Five years have passed on the Isle of Berk since the events of “How to Train Your Dragon,” and things are peaceful: Those long-suffering sheep are still being tossed through the air (complete with hilarious expressions of sheepish panic), and Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), now a young adult, is still happily tussling with his beloved dragon, Toothless. But nothing stays simple when a sequel is afoot, and early in the delightful “How to Train Your Dragon 2” we learn the hard-earned peace between dragons and Vikings is threatened — and that Hiccup is about to be reunited with a key figure from his past.
The plot doesn’t matter in the slightest; young and old fans of the first movie will be lining up for the wit, for the inventiveness of the characters, for the breathtaking visuals — and just the sheer fun of it all. (It’s written and directed by local resident Dean DeBlois, who co-directed the first film.) Legendary live-action cinematographer Roger Deakins served as a visual consultant, and it shows: The scenes of dragons soaring through the skies have a roller-coaster breathlessness; the sea’s water splashes toward us with uncanny life. It’s a pleasure just to observe the goofy details of the character design: the funny necklessness of many of the Vikings, or the way Toothless makes the kind of good-kitty-cat eyes that would do Puss-in-Boots proud. Along the way, Hiccup becomes a man, we learn once again that dragon saliva doesn’t wash out, and a good time is had by all. I suspect we haven’t seen the last of this franchise — and, judging from the enthusiasm of the all-ages audience at the preview screening, that’s actually just fine.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org