Dragon riders return with flair

Still from How to Train Your Dragon 2

Still from How to Train Your Dragon 2

FIVE years after the events of the first film saw dragon-killing come to an end in Viking village Berk, How to Train Your Dragon 2 revisits a changed township living peacefully alongside their fire-breathing friends.

First film hero Hiccup (fantastically voiced by the dry Jay Baruchel, The Sorcerer's Apprentice) returns with his loyal sidekick, the dragon Toothless, alongside all of the other primary characters for another adventurous movie, even cuter than its predecessor.

In a city that now embraces dragons as a normal and increasingly irreplaceable part of life, Hiccup and Toothless attempt to map and explore faraway places, to discover all that they can about the world beyond their own borders.

In their travels they encounter Eret, son of Eret (voiced by Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones' Jon Snow), a dragon-catcher who reports to the villainous Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou, Gladiator). Drago has been building a dragon army to serve his will, and threatens the livelihood of the newly dragon-friendly Berkians.

Disobeying his father Stoick's (Gerard Butler, Law Abiding Citizen) commands to remain locked down inside the village walls, Hiccup leads Toothless and girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera, Ugly Betty) on the path to negotiate with Bludvist, to show him the loyalty and kindness inherent within dragons when treated correctly.

Soon into his journey, Hiccup is accosted by another mysterious dragon-rider (voiced by Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine), somebody from his past shakes up the young hero's whole world.

Every part of How to Train Your Dragon 2 is of a larger scale. The setting of the story extends well past the familiar surrounds of Berk — there are more dragons, the emotional stories hit harder and the stakes are much higher.

Even the animation seems to be of a higher standard, with such detail put into each character's every movement, into the individual hairs of a Viking beard.

The music is beautiful and breathtaking, especially in an early free-fall sequence between an incredibly cute Toothless and his master.

All the dragons, as is common in modern animated films, appear to have the characteristics and demeanour of dogs, fetching various items for their owners, licking their faces and generally displaying canine traits.

Children will love How to Train Your Dragon 2 as it is filled with lovely, colourful dragons, a decent smattering of laughs and a storyline that should keep them engaged for length of the film.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is rated PG.

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