I positively gushed over How to Train Your Dragon back in 2010. The sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, had a pretty high bar to clear, but unfortunately the same sort of mindset that slapped a "2" on the title seems to have shaped some of the storytelling.
Hey, I'm still sick (I fell ill on the road a week ago -- that's a story for a different blog entry) so maybe that colored the experience for me. I still love the characters and the setting, and the story isn't a bad one, but my movie-viewing experience was punctuated by moments of "that doesn't make sense" and "something needs to happen soon" and "wow, this feels long." Those moments are not usually good signs. And I kept asking myself whether a better title for the film wouldn't reveal itself during the story, because the existing title makes it sound like a "2" movie, and certainly DreamWorks can do better than that.
If you've seen it, please weigh in down in the comments. Can you think of a better title? Even something corny, like "How to Train Your Dragon for War" or "How to Raise a Dragon Army" might have served this film better than just the number. Ultimately the title of the film makes a promise, and the appended "2" promises only "more of what we thought you wanted," which usually ends up not being what we wanted at all.
(Did I have unrealistically high expectations? Maaaaybe.)
I did have fun, and the film cleared my Threshold of Awesome to land in slot #5, but I can't help but wonder whether the rank I'm assigning it is more a measure of my emotional investment in the characters before the movie started than my joy as the credits rolled. The thing is, I can't really put my finger on what went wrong, and that leaves me wondering whether I really WAS just running a low-grade fever and need to give the movie another chance. The action was great, the dialog was snappy, and the animation was brilliant. The story, though... I don't know why it didn't work for me, and that may mean it's time for more acetaminophen.