A How To Train Your Dragon 2 Rant

How To Train Your Dragon 2

What I really should be doing at this moment is working on a review for Beautiful Redemption (and then Dangerous Dream and Dangerous Creatures), but I cannot concentrate on it. I am too overwhelmed with emotion. So instead, here is another rant. I know, it’s probably going to be a lot like the rant I did after watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and you can feel free to skip it. Or you can keep you reading. This one is going to be written more from the depression side than the rage side (though I’m entirely sure there will be a few rage-filled moments). So, here I go. Before you move on, know 2 things:
1. This will container spoilers for the film How To Train Your Dragon 2
2. There may be swearing. I’m not sure how much or what level because I don’t swear as much when I’m depressed as I do when I’m angry, but it still may happen.

Knowing those things, you may proceed.

Let me start with a little background. When I saw the preview for How To Train You Dragon, I wasn’t overly excited. It looked cute, but it wasn’t something I was dying to see. But it was playing at the drive-in with another film that looked interesting, so I went, I saw, and I loved it. I loved everything about it. It was epic and amazing and it is now easily one of my top 5 animated movies ever. Maybe even one of my top 5 movies period. I have watched that movie more times in the few years it has been out than I have watch Beauty And The Beast (another favorite of mine) in my entire lifetime. Hiccup is brave, Toothless is adorable, and the pair is an unbeatable match. So, when I heard about a sequel, I was ecstatic. Had you asked me at the beginning of the year, what movie I was most excited to see this year, I would have said How To Train Your Dragon 2. Sure, I was excited about The Lego Movie, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and even Veronica Mars (though I would have been a close call between VMars & HTTYD2), but this movie was it. My excitement for this film reached a level I didn’t know was possible. I impatiently awaited the release. I literally bounced with joy every time I saw the preview. I sat in the theater waiting for it to start just hoping it would be half as good as the previous one.

And that’s really the hard thing for me, but take out the few things I have issues with and it was amazing. The animation is gorgeous, the characters have all grown up a bit, and the story was pretty interesting…at least up until the part that I had problems with because I more or less stopped watching there and starting crying. Seriously crying, like shoulders shaking, gasping for air, ugly cry.
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But, before that point, this movie had so much promise and it was living up to it. Even the bit I saw of the end through the tears was great. Toothless gets even more epic with the blueness and defeats the evil alpha. But it’s all overshadowed by that moment that kills me. Okay, people, the spoilers are next, so if you don’t want to read them, leave and leave now.

The story starts out well enough, with the village playing Dragon Races and Stoick trying to convince Hiccup it’s time for him to take over as Chief of the village. Hiccup is naturally resistant to this and goes off exploring, coming across a group of dragon trappers who collect dragons for a man named Drago Bludvist who is supposedly a dragon master. He escapes and flies back to Berk to warn his father and the village. Stoick wants to close the village and more or less hide because Drago is a crazy asshat who can’t be reasoned with. Hiccup wants to find Drago and try to reason with him. Stoick says no and Hiccup disobeys and flies off with Toothless. He finds a dragon nest and meets his mother and the Alpha dragon that protects the nest. He learns about his mother and the past and all that nonsense. And then Drago attacks the dragon nest. And all hell (and my emotions) break loose.

The dragons and the Alpha, along with Hiccup and his gang of compatriots and his dad and Gobber go out to face Drago and defend their nest. Fighting happens, but they are more or less winning, until Drago brings out his own Alpha. A new part of lure is introduced here, stating that a dragon must obey the Alpha. He has no choice and no will and he must do as he is commanded. We will get to my issues with this momentarily, but first, the death scene(s). The two Alphas fight for dominance, with Drago’s Alpha winning. This is the first scene I had issues with. Drago’s Alpha, who I am going to refer to as DA from this point on, gets the other Alpha, who I am just going to refer to as Alpha, onto his side and rams him with his tusks. This is the only shot we get of this “death.” I say that in quotation marks because I don’t understand the death. DA ramming Alpha is clearly the killing hit, yet when he pulls back there is not blood coming from Alpha, no blood on the ground around Alpha, and no blood on DA’s tusks. You know the tusks that were just rammed inside Alpha? So how exactly does Alpha die? And it’s heavily implied he dies because Hiccup’s mom is super-sad and we never see him again. Does he die from the shame of being pushed over? I realize that this is a kids movie so they can’t really show the gored remains with having to bump the rating to PG-13, but there in lies my point. If you want to make the film adult enough to have this kind of death, then at least have the balls to show the effects.

Alpha’s death was heartbreaking enough, but they don’t stop there. Hiccup flies down to try to talk some sense into Drago, which is a useless endeavor. Drago commands DA to use his “Alpha mind control” abilities to take control of Toothless and attack Hiccup. Toothless fights momentarily before giving in and relinquishing control to DA. From there on, things deteriorate rather quickly. Hiccup tries to talk Toothless out of his haze, but is unsuccessful. Toothless fires a plasma fireball thing-y at Hiccup but Stoick jumps in the way and bye bye Stoick the Vast. Toothless snaps out of it but Hiccup pushes him away in grief. Drago captures Toothless and rides off.
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From this point on, my ability to recall the film dwindles considerably because I stopped paying attention. I feel into a short rage about how all the character deaths lately piss me off and quickly fell into a sobbing depression. And I mean that literally. I truly spent that moment and everyone after it sobbing until after it ended. I have been told that this was a wholly irrational reaction to a fictional character death and I see that side, I do. But that’s only part of the reason for my depression. At that moment, all I could think about was how this asshats at Dreamworks were ruining one of my favorite stories and taking these characters I love like real people on a journey they never should have gone on. That was another reason I was sobbing. I love these characters. LOVE. They feel real in a lot of ways even though I logically know they are fictional. Haven’t you ever felt that kind of connection with fictional characters? Be it from a film or a show or a novel, that soul-deep bond with a character? I have, on several occasions and the first film and to have the film makers make this mockery of that love devastated me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I make no secret of the fact that stories need to be character driven for me to truly get into them and this had that in spades, and then brutally ripped out my heart.
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This was worse than Gwen Stacey’s death in so many ways. At least with The Awful Amazing Spider-Man 2, the actions leading to Gwen’s death were believable. Gwen was stubborn and insists on helping, regardless of what Peter says, so it makes a certain sense that she would follow him into danger and die. The Green Goblin was off his rocker and would have no qualms causing the situation leading to her death or killing her himself. But I have an impossibly difficult time believing Toothless would attack Hiccup. I can’t. My brain refuses to acknowledge that it is even a possibility. Toothless is completely loyal to Hiccup, as Hiccup is to him and the idea that Toothless would attack him is utterly preposterous to me. That would never happen. Ever. I don’t care what kind of argument you throw at me about the Alpha and that bullshit, just fucking no!
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THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN! Not ever, not in any reality, in any lifetime, in any convoluted plot. Never. Toothless would never hurt Hiccup. Period. Is that irrational? Fuck off, I don’t care. I just don’t believe it and if I don’t believe it, how am I supposed to connect with the story?

This is my main issue with the film and from the comments I’ve been reading on the almighty interwebs, no one else really gives a damn. This bothers no one but me and a handful of others. And I’m at a complete loss as to why. How does this not bother you? If I hear one more comment about how it was obvious one of the parents was going to die or how it makes it more realistic, I’m going to go on a murderous rampage.
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A: Just because you can feel it coming doesn’t mean it’s the right move for the film to make. As with everything else, I hope that the filmmakers are about such petty shenanigans.
B: Why is death realistic? Killing everyone off is no more truly realistic that letting everyone ride off into the sunset. I hate how the term “realistic” has become a synonym for “death” when that isn’t at all what makes things life-like! Life is a mix of the good and the bad, not strictly either or.

I think I’ve harped a lot on the fact that the point is to take the journey with the characters, but I’ve had a lot of people who tell me that this type of reaction is plain-out stupid and so I feel compelled to explain again. Maybe I’m different? For me, part of the beauty of any form of storytelling is it introduces you to new “people” and allows you to go on an adventure with them. In order to care about how good or bad this adventure goes, we have to first care about the characters, yes? Is it such as stretch to say you start to love them? You celebrate their triumphs and lament their defeats and experience every range of emotion as they do.

There have to be some fangirls out there who understand this concept? Supernatural fans, imagine Dean dying. Really dying, no cross-roads deal, angel intervention, or demon resurrection, but truly dying. How do you feel? Depression? Rage? Then you understand. Furthermore, why are you angry? Because Dean’s dead obviously, but maybe also at the writer’s for bringing us to this point? For not only allowing it to happen, but actively seeking it out because the writer has all the power? They could have steered the story in a different direction, but this is the path they chose and you have to live with it. You understanding my anger a bit more now? Sorry for all the SN references, but it’s a fandom I understand well enough to make analogies.

ANYWAY, back to my original point of being angry (and sad). This has put me in an awful position. I want to like the movie. I do, but I don’t think I can. How am I supposed to just get over it? How am I supposed to let it go? I don’t know how to do that! I don’t know how to not be affected by Stoick’s death at Toothless’s hands. And I’m not mad at Toothless but I’m furious at the writers and the producers and whoever else was involved in letting this get into the film. Does no one care about Stoick? I can’t be the only one!

Okay, I realize I’ve started talking in circles now, but it’s a product of how upset I am by this. Now, a full 24 hours after seeing the film, I am still at a loss for how to move past it. This movie broke my heart and spit in my face and I…just…
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I kinda feel like I’ve rambled and not cleared anything up at all, but I feel a bit better putting my thoughts out into the universe. Maybe someone else out there feels the same as me and will know they aren’t alone after reading this. It is okay to have intense reactions to films. It is not stupid to get attached to the characters and wish for their well-being. If I’m being honest, I think I will try to watch it again and see if I can let it go and that alone is a testament to how much I love Toothless because I have no intention of ever watching Sherlock Holmes 2 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ever again. But I want to like this. There was so much epic amazing-ness in it and as much as I’d like to hate it on principle, I’d rather like it some. Maybe I can get over it? Maybe? I’ll try again, but not in the immediate future and I make no promises as to the reaction. I love Toothless enough to give it one more shot, but after that I’m done. Let’s hope it’s at least a tiny bit better and I don’t end up crying again.

Tabitha's signature

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32 thoughts on “A How To Train Your Dragon 2 Rant

  1. i haven’t seen either dragon movie, but i am totally on board w/ your upset at the writers of this 2nd movie. there are all sorts of journeys in real life, and there are an equal amount of journeys / escapes in fictional life. i completely disagree w/ the trend in kids’ movies lately to try & be “edgy” and by edgy to mean killing off characters or making kids sad. why? what’s wrong w/ having a feel-good kid movie where good triumphs over evil & perhaps there are casualties but not main character casualties and not main characters who are forced to act … well… out of character! there are plenty of teen & adult movies for those kinds of storylines. (and even then, i don’t agree w/ that kind of thing being used for “shock value” because i go to movies for the same reason i read – to escape & enjoy a happy ending in ppl’s lives!) sometimes storylines call for tough things – totally okay w/ that emotional journey, even if the emotions are sad or angry. if i can understand or see the reasoning behind it, i still mightn’t like it, but i at least will have a bit of empathy for it.

    but in kids movies? just, no. not to the degree you described.

    okay, mini-rant on your rant over. *laugh* : )

    • Exactly! I still highly recommend the first film because it is truly amazing (and death-free), but they dug their own grave by making the first one perfect and then giving me this. I’ll watch it again in a few weeks and most likely write another rant, but maybe I’ll enjoy it this time? Hopefully? My husband is hell-bent on getting me to like it at least enough to own it eventually because he really loved it, despite the character death.

      I’m glad someone else gets it. Kids movies shouldn’t have epic deaths. Kids movies should have better ways to create dramatic and emotional situations than just killing characters. Some children haven’t realized their mortality yet and what an awful way to learn about it!

  2. I have watched HTTYD 1 (just finished watching it now, in fact) more times than I can count so I know how it feels to be emotionally attached and invested in these characters. I can get that plot twist of putting Toothless under the Alpha’s control and him having to fight it, but what I can’t agree with, like you, is it being successful (albeit only once) and even go so far as him killing his best friend’s dad. Toothless won’t hurt Hiccup. He just won’t. Looking at the events in the first movie, it (Stoick’s death) has kind of been foreshadowed but that only makes things more unacceptable to me. ): Even though as an adult I can understand that things like this could happen and I pretty much accept it (and I think the movie was still epic), the child in me that loved the characters and their world died more than a little at the theatre when I saw HTTYD 2 that time. ):

    • Yes! My husband says that he can understand Toothless being overwhelmed and giving in, and had he attacked anyone else, I *might* have been able to buy it, but Hiccup? Never.

      I agree that there was a bit of foreshadowing, but that just makes it worse for me because it feels like this might have been the plan all along, to kill in this way, and why would we want to build up to that? X_X

  3. I’m so glad to see your review. I couldn’t agree more with you. I love these characters too. My favorite part of the original story is the Stoick\Hiccup relationship where they are so different from each other yet love each other and makeakward but sincere attempts to connect. Now that’s over. I knew when the sequel was announced to be about Hiccup’s journey to becoming chief they would kill Stoick. Still I convinced myself they would wait till HTTYD 3 to do it. Seems like they went for maximum angst and irony having beloved Toothlessbe responsible for Stoicks deathe. And I feel terrible for Hiccup who has now lost the one parent that raised him and is left with a mother who willingly abandoned him and he knows nothing about her.

    • I agree. Stoick and Hiccup trying to get along even though they are completely different was amazing to watch. It’s clear there is love there, but it’s also clear that Hiccup makes Stoick epically angry a lot.

      I think I could have tolerated Stoick’s death if it had happened ANY other way. Dying defending his son is a noble death that I could have dealt with (though unhappily), but having Toothless be the cause is just beyond unacceptable to me! And I know! Everyone loves his mother, but she has already abandoned him once, what’s to stop her from doing it again?!?

  4. Thank you SO much for writing this article. I thought I was the only one who felt this way! In many other ways the movie was really great. But when toothless actually killed hiccup’s dad…I couldn’t get over it! It was noble for Stoick to save Hiccup, but couldn’t it have happened later? Couldn’t it have happened in any other way?

    One of my favorite parts of HTTYD was the connection between Hiccup and his dad. I like that they got along more, but I wanted to see their relationship grow even more. What if we would have seen them actually joke and laugh with each other? It may have made us love these characters even more, showing that even though they are different they could still get along. Stoick was a strong caring leading character. His death could have been delayed for him to see his son become a leader thus making him even more proud of Hiccup, and being with his wife again.

    • p.s. I forgot to mention, it makes you feel like the writers don’t care enough about Stoick…come on. He’s Stoick the vast. Give him more time, and appreciate him a little more. Also, the villain could have better. Last but not least…..the rest of the movie has little complaints. Everything else was great!

      • Yes, yes, and YES! I felt like Stoick’s death was that much more heart-breaking because he had just been reunited with his wife. OOO…yay! Finally a happy ending…..NEVERMIND. X_X I still can’t get over it. It makes me so sad to think about it.

        Thank you so much for commenting! I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

    • Yes! Let stoick grow old with his wife while hiccup goes to kick ass….let them both be proud of him….fuck u dreamworks…stupid cunts

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  7. I was very disappointed with this pointless death in general. I feel it was added to make the movie go on longer instead of making the climax right there. Its there for cheap thrills.

    The shock of the mother being alive is something and having a happy reunion was a bit odd, but now I see it was all just to set up for this worthless death. Its just jarring and puts me out of the movie and hate the experience in general.

    I love these movies, but I don’t think I’ll watch a HTTYD3. The series is simply over for me.

  8. Couldnt agree more…killing hiccups father was cheap and completely un called for……he was also one of the best characters ….my daughter was in fucking tears u cunts…..fuck u dreamworks…u have ruined possible the greatest trilogy (to be) in the last 10 years…..wankers

    • Exactly. I can’t imagine my world if I had a kid and took them to see that movie. I would be unable to help calm them down because I was also in hysterics.

  9. My husband and I just got finished watching the movie with our two boys, and we couldn’t agree with you more!! We so WANT to love this movie, because everything was “more awesome” than the first, EXCEPT the death of Stoick! The digital projections, the characters, the “battles,” the new dragon world, the relationships. The sheer possibilities of this movie were near epic; however, when they killed Hiccup’s father, and ESPECIALLY by using Hiccup to do it, just KILLED our admiration of this sequel! (No pun intended) The writers could have concluded this movie so differently. They had so much potential for the new relationships of this movie. They had shown the father as actually being able to appreciate the need for family, to be romantic with his wife and to be able to reminisce of days gone by. I mean, my goodness, they had him singing a duet! Okay, sorry, I will not go on my own rant here. Just wanted to say you have 4 more here who are in total agreement with you on this! 🙂

    • Exactly! It was a bigger scope and better animation! And YES to watching Stoick be romantic with his wife. It felt particularly cruel to reunite them only to rip them apart again! I meant to mention that in the review but obviously got sidetracked!

  10. I feel like you took all the words out of my mouth and we had the EXACT same reaction. Why couldn’t we have the joy of them all being together that they built up? Trade one parent for another for no reason!!!! I hope I can watch it again, but I never saw this coming and can’t say enough how much it upsets me.

    • I know! It felt especially cruel to kill him just after the reunion! What the hell where they thinking? I actually bought a DVD copy on release day, which was last week and I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it again. I think the only way I’ll be able to tolerate it is to skip that whole fight scene and pretend it doesn’t exist.

  11. I wish the writers would have a look at this blog because it touches on everything that makes me extremely disappointed in HHTYD2. I was as much of a fan of the first movie and the episodes from Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk BECAUSE of the amazing father and son relationship that Stoick and Hiccup shared. How ever akward it might have been at some points the love was clearly there… The writers put an abrupt end to that for me and replaced it with a “mother” who decided dragons were more important then her child… It’s as if they created this whole story for my son and I to connect with and love together just to tear it away for what? To be dramatic? To be edgy? It all seems like a major cop out for me Stoick was my connection to the entire series and the father son relationship was my soul reason for being able to get into the series with my son as much as I have been but now it’s gone… Thanks DreamWorks, you ruined something my son and I were sharing for years now, and for what? Seriously FOR WHAT??? It’s a complete slap in my face.

  12. I was looking for a review like this. There was a darker feeling to this sequel. For the villain to kill Hiccup just for cheap thrills, for a good character like Toothless to turn evil and be used to murder – not ok. Character death is acceptable, but not in that way. I’m not feeling comfy, uplifted and satisfied like with the ending of the first movie.

  13. Stoick is not dead! I can just feel it. I agree with you 100% i still get emotional every time i think about it. My theory is that, because they only showed Stoick getting hit by toothless then strait to a boat in the water that catches on fire then quickly leaves that scene. Now that is a bit suspicious to me. I feel that they would have showed a little bit more of his burial. I believe he will show up in the third movie if not the forth. A. he shows up on a crazy new dragon that pulls him away from the burning boat. or B. He returns with the white alpha who also had a fast not detailed enough death. Long live Stoick The Vast!!! fu*k all non believers!

    • I hope you are right because I don’t know if I can watch the next film otherwise. That completely ruined this movie for me. I know it’s awesome in other ways, I know the baby dragons are cool and blue Toothless is amazing, but I just can’t wait Stoick die. I CAN’T!

  14. Well… This was an overreaction.

    Hmm, I wonder how you would have reacted had they gone with the idea in the very first draft of the script 😛
    Originally, it was Valka who was the sympathetic antagonist of the movie. It was she who forced the Bewilderbeast to turn Toothless against Hiccup, and you know what comes next.

    • Ha. You sound like everyone in my real life. I kinda know it was an over-reaction, but obviously it really riled me up and I couldn’t get it off my mind for days.

      I’d just prefer a version where Stoick didn’t die at all. Valka could have died and it would have been okay. Hell, anyone but Hiccup, Astrid, Toothless, Stoick, and the main dragons would have been fine.

  15. I disliked this movie on so many levels but the movie really shat the bed in one area in particular – the whole “alpha”-thingamajig is a concept that lessens both humans and dragons as well as creating a crapton of problems between the first and second movies.

    In the first story the dragons are ruled by a big thug but through cooperation both the humans and the dragons realize that together they can make a better life for themselves and kick his/her/it’s ass. This time the big one just farts pheromones or uses it’s psychic power and all the dragons turn into mindless drones. Turns out the dragons they’ve spent a whole movie fleshing out into very distinct types and pokémonized semi-human characters are in reality not much more than different classes of ants. Bummer.

    This also leads to a problem this movie shares many other stories: mind control is a very delicate thing to write into a story. It’s a plot device that is way overused in movies, comics and tv-series containing fantasy, sci-fi and/or supernatural elements. At the same time it’s very seldom used in a way that really takes stock of all the depressing repercussions of someone getting their mind violated. It’s a concept that gets really dark really fast and this movie dives headfirst into that clusterfuck only to dismiss it when the story decides it’s time for everyone to be friends and work together again.

    How the fuck would anyone recover from that without years of work at establishing new trust? “It’s okay that you tried to murder me and killed my father little buddy. You got mindjacked and that’s just life as a dragon I guess. Just try to avoid it next time, okay? I don’t want you murdering me and I have only one meatshield/parent left.” The movie works really hard at turning Hiccup (and most of the cast) into an egotistical idiot devoid of proper emotional responses, but this is still a real stretch.

    In the end I really don’t consider it a win that Toothless gets the power to rape the minds of all the other poor dragons. He’ll use it responsibly ’cause he’s a good guy, so it’s okay right?

  16. Finally saw the broadcast on TV last night. I loved the first movie, and really had no interest in the sequel but it was on and I watched it finally. Loved the movie, right up until the mind control by the alpha. Very upset that Toothless killed Stoic!! Could have been any dragon like the alpha but not Toothless! I wish Stoic didn’t die, and the fact Hiccup is not completely devastated after the fact that his dragon buddy, his best friend would hurt Hiccup or has even accidentally killed Stoic while trying to kill Hiccup makes no sense. His father is dead and his own dragon killed him, I can’t get over that. Hiccup sure recovered quickly. The whole mind control thing was stupid. Fuck Dreamworks, I will never go see another one of those films again.

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