Check out our review of this thrilling second chapter of the epic How to Train Your Dragon trilogy that returns to the fantastical world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless. The inseparable duo must protect the peace and save the future of men and dragons from the power-hungry Drago.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
DreamWorks - 2014
Feature running time:
English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, Spanish, French
Voices of: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrer, T.J. Miller, Kristin Wiig, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Cate Blancett, Kit Harrington, Djimon Hounsou
Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell
Blu-ray Disc release Date:
November 11, 2014
"Together they have the power to change the future of both men and dragons"
Based on the children’s book series by Cressida Cowell, How to train your Dragon 2
is the thrilling second chapter of the epic trilogy. Five years have passed since the heroic young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) befriended an injured dragon and forever changed the way the residents of Berk interact with the fire-breathers. Now, Vikings and dragons live side-by-side in peace on the fantastical isle that has been transformed into a dragon’s paradise.
But when grown-up responsibilities loom on the horizon, Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless take to the skies in search of answers. It’s much more than he bargained for, though, when Hiccup comes across a colony of dragons led by a mysterious dragon rider (whose secret identity hits very close to home), and discovers that the peace between dragons and Vikings is threatened by the power-hungry Drago.
In order to win out over Drago, Hiccup and Toothless, aided by Astrid, Gobber, Snotlout, Fishlegs and twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut along with Hiccup’s tribal chief father Stoick and new ally the dragon rider must work together to protect the dragons they have grown to love. In the process, Hiccup finds the answers he has been looking for in ways he could never have imagined.
I am admittedly a fan of How to train your Dragon
. It is a big hit with my family and I have seen it numerous times. It is one of those wonderfully entertaining animated films that never seems to lose its luster. When How to train your Dragon 2
was released earlier this year we saw it opening weekend. Like its predecessor the story is well developed and carries a positive message about friendship, forgiveness and family while adding a spirited element of adventure that combine for a delightfully entertaining animated film that’s easy to get lost in as it warms the heart, and tickles the funny bone.
As much as I like How to train your Dragon
I enjoy How to train your Dragon 2
a little more. With the characters now established we get a narrative in this film that has just a smidge more depth. Hiccup is coming into his own and is being looked to by his father for leadership among their village. His relationship with Toothless has grown to a point where they can nearly sense one another’s thoughts. The events later in the film will test that friendship in a way that you may not see coming. New characters, both good and bad, are introduced which enable the storyline to branch off in a meaningful direction.
There is no doubt that How to train your Dragon 2
is primarily aimed at a specific target demographic however its themes of coming of age, familial estrangement and loss elevate it, providing resonant tones that appeal to a broader audience. Having seen it twice now I found myself every bit as caught up and reveling in the well spun and familiar humor, captivated by the superlative animation and choked up by the pitch perfect and effectual emotion. The entire voice cast from the first film reprise their roles and are every bit as fun while newcomers Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou and Kit Harrington have no trouble fitting right in. As I mentioned earlier the production elements are simply amazing and add an enriching element that makes the experience all the better.
I can’t say enough about How to train your Dragon 2
. It is a befitting sequel that builds upon the foundation of the first film and takes it up a notch. It’s an endearing family film that is sure to see plenty of replays in my home. A third film has been announced and I eagerly await what lies in store for Hiccup, Toothless and the gang from Berk…
Available exclusively on the Blu-ray combo pack, DVD double pack and Digital HD of How to train your Dragon 2
fans will get even more excitement, adventure and, of course, more dragons when DreamWorks Animation releases Dragons: Dawn of the Dragon Racers
, an all-new animated adventure featuring the original voice cast. A hunt for lost sheep soon turns into a high-flying sprint in the all-new epic adventure as Hiccup and friends battle to become the first Dragon Racing Champion of Berk!
The rating is for adventure, action and some mild rude humor.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
How to train your Dragon 2 comes to Blu-ray Disc from DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps and lossless 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.7 Mbps.
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
This is a beautifully crafted digital film that looks amazing in high definition. From start to finish this presentation is nothing short of mesmerizing in its depiction of the film’s animated images. The video is exquisitely detailed, incredibly three dimensional and never left me wanting for fine degrees of subtle delineation and texture. The attention to detail in the construction of the animated characters physical features as well as objects within each frame is superb. Stoick is my go to for detail as the design of his beard, clothing, and physical make up draws out tons of nuance (in the scene in the cave with Valka when he removes his helmet check out the fine hairs on the nape of his neck). The same is true of riding suite and harness worn by Hiccup and Toothless, amazing. Other examples can be seen in the textural nuance in the physical characteristics in the wooden surfaces of the ships and interiors of the village dwellings.
The chromatic palette is fairly broad with colors that appear vivid and bold with an enriching level of saturation that exhibits subtle degrees of separation and eye pleasing depth. Contrast is exemplary and blacks are inky with extended dynamic range and deep gradational highlights. The sequence in chapter 12 where Hiccup and Toothless follow Valka though the cavern to the dragon sanctuary looks incredible as the varying gradations, cascading light and shifting shadows pop against a multi-staged/dark background. Those with high contrast displays can fully appreciate how superlative this sequence looks.
The film’s remaining low level sequences look just as stunning as the dark and shadow filled backgrounds exhibit a near infinite level of dimension, with superb contrast and visible shading that draws out lots of detail. As good as the first film looks in high definition I have to say that this looks even better. I tip my hat to DreamWorks who continues to prove that Pixar isn’t the only pristine animation game in town.
The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio soundtrack is an engaging mix that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is excellent as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated so that sound effects seem to traverse the room. Surround activity is abundant as discretely placed directional and spatial information mixed to the rear channels weaves an enveloping pattern of sound. Dynamics are energetic and forceful which lends weight to the plethora of impact felt moments during the movie.
I wouldn’t describe this as an aggressive LFE mix but it makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its dynamic range. Fans of plaster cracking bass will probably be disappointed as there is little low frequency content in this mix that descends to the those depths. This does coincide with my experience of the track when I saw it in the theater. This should not be taken to mean that the surround mix is unbalanced or lacking in response however it doesn’t hit as low or as hard as the soundtrack on How to train your dragon. Dialogue is rendered with aplomb and sounds terrific throughout. John Powell’s rousing music is an essential component to this soundtrack as it helps to intensify the action with its energetic instrumentation and high level detail that maintains a prominent and engaging aural presence. While some may find the lack of ultralow frequency content disappointing there is no question that this is an entertaining audio presentation where the surround mix is clearly the star of the show.
I found this to be a faithful overall presentation where the video may have minimally outshone the audio but nevertheless combined for a fun home theater experience that complimented the source material.
- (HD) Fishleg’s Dragon Stats – How much do you know about your favorite dragons? Explore the Dragon 2 Guide and learn more about your favorite fire-breathing friends!
- (HD) Drago’s War Machines – Gobber the Belch narrates this inside look at the fierce creatures and “high-tech” weapons used by Drago to expand his growing dragon army.
- (HD) Berk’s Dragon World – Explore the massive stable created to house the dragons of Berk, along with other changes made on the island to promote harmonious living.
- (HD) Hiccup’s Inventions in Flight – Learn the secrets of how Hiccup and Toothless work together to form the ultimate high-flying team in this fascinating interactive tour.
- (HD) 4 Deleted Scenes with writer/director introduction -- The awesome adventure continues with telling deleted and extended scenes.
- Commentary by Simon Otto, Bonnie Arnold, Dean DeBlois, and Pierre-Olivier Vincent
- (HD) Where No One Goes: The Making of How To Train Your Dragon 2 – Writer-Director Dean DeBlois and his team take you behind the scenes of creating the film’s eye-popping visual effects and epic story – 54 minutes
- (HD) Dawn of the Dragon Racers: All new animated short – 26 minutes
- (HD) Image Gallery
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
- (HD) World of DreamWorks Animation (6 segments) – Move to the music videos from your favorite DreamWorks Animation feature films
- Bonus DVD
- Digital HD Copy
Like its predecessor How to train your Dragon 2
is high flying family entertainment that warms the heart and tickles the funny bone thanks to a strong script, excellent casting and apt direction from writer/director Dean DeBlois. DreamWorks doesn’t miss a beat with its stellar video presentation and rousing DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that shines in high definition on Blu-ray Disc. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment includes a host of bonus material which includes Blu-ray Disc exclusive features, filmmaker commentary, a behind the scenes documentary, and the animated short film “Dawn of the Dragon Racers”. I thoroughly enjoyed How to train your Dragon 2
and highly recommend it for inclusion in your Blu-ray library.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package