Interviewing four people at once can be daunting when it comes to getting everyone to join in the conversation, but the gang from the Dreamworks animated film HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 had spent so much time together since the making of DRAGON 1, that they were almost a single entity. When I spoke to them on June 2, 2014, they were positively burbling with delight at talking about this sequel, and rightly so in my opinion. It’s one of those rare sequels that is as good as the original, advancing the story and developing the characters.
The latter point came up right away, when I asked Jay Baruchel if he was doing anything different with is voice work now that his character, Hiccup, is now 20, five years older than in part one. His answer, self-deprecating and as ribald as one would expect from the co-star of THIS IS THE END, as well as co-star and co-writer of GOON. I won’t spoil it except to say it’s anatomical. Once we had all recovered from that, we went on to talk about America’s input on her character, Astrid, Arnold’s thoughts on the new animating process that allows for more subtlety in expressing emotions, and DeBlois’ temptation (or not) to go back and use that process to re-animate the original film.
In this sequel, it’s five years since the events of the first film, and our intrepid characters have acclimated themselves and their Viking town of Berk to peaceful cohabitation with dragons. Now 20, Hiccup, voiced by Baruchel, is busy mapping the farthest reaches of the world thanks to the air travel afforded by Toothless, the Night Fury dragon that started the pro-dragon trend in Berk. New adventures, old friends and several surprises are in store for Hiccup and gal-pal Astrid (voiced by Ferrera), as well as dazzling battles, nail-biting close-calls, and a thumping good story. The film co-stars Cate Blanchet, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Daniel-Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Honsou, Kit Harrington, and Randy Thom as the non-verbal voice of Toothless. DeBlois directed from a script he based on Cressida Cowell’s series of the same name. His previous work includes the first film in the Dragon series, as well as LILO AND STITCH, the latter bearing an odd resemblance to Toothless. Arnold returns as producer of the film and her previous work includes TOY STORY. Ferrara’s previous work includes a delightful stint as television’s Ugly Betty, as well as starring on screen in THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, and CESAR CHAVEZ. Baruchel’s previous work includes THIS IS THE END, ROBOCOP, and co-writing as well as co-starring in the criminally underappreciated paean to ice hockey, GOON.