I don’t always get out to see movies these days and I’ve missed some this summer that I wanted to see. My Mary and I had a chance to sneak in a film this week and we chose to catch How To Train Your Dragon 2 before it disappeared from the movie theaters. We had seen the first one and I had been impressed: good story, good animation, and a sense of things having consequences.
I liked the sequel even more.
I should note that sequels can be notoriously difficult to pull off well. You’ve already told your story. What else do you have and, if it’s any good, why didn’t you tell it first? Mind you, there are notable exceptions to the rule. Godfather II is not only better than the first film, it’s often described as one of the best films of all time. The Empire Strikes Back is also a better film than its predecessor and, for many Star Wars fans, the best of the bunch. The Dark Knight was, for me, the best Batman film thus far.
However, you have others that just don’t live up to the original. Iron 2 was rather sucky, for example. Superman 2 was not as good as its predecessor. Babe is a favorite film in our house; Babe 2… rarely watch it. Once upon a time Warner Bros considered making a sequel to Casablanca. Fortunately, they never got around to it.
The problem with a lot of sequels is that they exist, not because the creators have a new vision but because the studio, seeing how much money the first one made, wants another bite of that apple. Sometimes, all you get is a refried version of the first movie.
So – what makes How To Train Your Dragon 2 even better than the original? (Mandatory spoiler warning now issued. If you haven’t seen it yet – and you should – you may want to avoid the rest of the column. I’ll be as circumspect as I can.)