How To Train Your Dragon 2 needs to do well if DreamWorks doesn't want to risk sliding down a slippery slope from which there is no return. With three of their last four movies resulting in financial losses, this sequel to the 2010 blockbuster can breath some fire back into DreamWorks if it brings its A-game.
But what will How To Train Your Dragon 2 a worthy sequel to the original? What are the determining factors that will guarantee success or assure failure? The following are only my opinions, but I have a feeling we'll be on a similar page.
Family Is Key
This movie is going to live or die based on the family dynamic between Hiccup and his parents. If we don't feel the love between Valka and Stoic, or even the awkwardness at reuniting with a long-lost family member, the story won't work. It's been marketed to death as a family tale and that's what people are expecting.
It'd be nice if Toothless and Astrid are counted as family, too, since both are super close to Hiccup. I mean, Toothless is really more than just a pet, and even pets are often consider family members. And Astrid's relationship with Hiccup seems set on a serious trajectory, making her just as important. I hope the five of them go through plenty of ups and downs together, growing close all the while.
New Dragons Everywhere
One of the cool things about the original How To Train Your Dragon is that it introduced audiences to a handful of novel dragon species. It even broke dragons down to a science, with statistics and fireball-breath counts. All of it was great, but within that greatness lies a danger: lazy writing.
I just hope that, instead of falling back on their pre-established dragons, DreamWorks gives audiences a whole crop of new dragons that get just as much detail. I know that Valka has a Stormcutter named Cloudjumper, and the massive Bewilderbeast will be featured as the Alpha Dragon, but they'd best have more than two new species. I mean, we've seen the Dragon Manual, and it's huge! There has to be some more faces worth showing.
The good news is, DreamWorks has, so far, done a good job including new dragons in all the secondary materials (books, features, TV shows). So as long as they keep up the pace, the movie will be all good on the dragon-front.
An Underdog Must Prove The World Wrong
A large part of what made the original film so good was Hiccup's journey to awkward-screw-up to hero. He was wholly different from everyone else in Berk. Instead of being a lumbering, dragon-killing machine, Hiccup worked on more inventive endeavors. Technology guided him to capturing and eventually befriending Toothless, and it led him to becoming his village's hero.
The only problem is, now Hiccup has grown up. He's confident and sure of himself because he stumbled into becoming a prodigy with dragons. But there's no way he can know everything. We already know Hiccup's mother will teach him plenty about dragons, but I hope we get to see Hiccup reminded that he can still grow. I want to see a cocky teenager's mistake force him to become a man. If the movie is just Hiccup kicking ass without learning anything, it'll have lost any kind of message and a lot of my interest. I want consequences, people!
At the same time, I'd also be alright if someone else were the underdog with a lesson to learn. It's a big cats, and I think there's room for others to shine. Alternatively, the entire village of Berk seems set up as the underdog from the looks of the main-villain's massive army. Still, the story will have to focus in on someone's struggle against insurmountable odds, and I just hope it's done well.
Give The People What They Want
As "the people," what do you want to see in the How To Train Your Dragon 2? I alone cannot decide how well this movie does, and everyone has different expectations. What I think we can all agree on, though, is that we want this movie to succeed. We already know there's a third movie coming up, so it'd be best to set the series up for a fitting ending. But will DreamWorks succeed? We'll find out Friday.