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How to Train your Dragon 2 Blu-ray Review

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It sets out to open up the world of Berk and it succeeds brilliantly, yet manages to keep an intimate story thread

by Simon Crust Nov 30, 2014 at 5:44 PM

  • Movies review

    3

    How to Train your Dragon 2 Blu-ray Review

    What's it all about?

    A sequel that equals and, in some cases, betters the original film is a rare beast, but this Dragon, rare or not, is one such beast!

    Taking place some five years after the events depicted in the original film, the citizens of Berk are now living very happily with their Dragons, even building a ‘quidditch’ type sport around their unique abilities. All seems well in the world, save that Hiccup, still inventive and still empathetic, does not want to take on the responsibility of leadership, even though his father insists that he do so. He would rather continue to explore their world and map it out, but on one fateful day he comes across Dragon trappers and discovers that there is a new threat; Drago a warmongering Viking who can also control Dragons (though through fear) wishes to rule the world and sees Berk and the mysterious Dragon Rider as targets in that aim. It is up to Hiccup and his faithful sidekick Toothless to try, once again, to save the day; but it is only through sacrifice, reconciliation and some truly shocking events that this is possible.
    Returning director Dean DeBlois game to the project with a definite idea and a true direction for the franchise – a trilogy of films, the second of which to be an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ type of expansion of the universe. And boy did he hit the nail on the head. Dragons 2 is a much, much darker film than the original though it shows just as much heart, but looks at things from a far more adult perspective – much like the characters do, being that much older themselves. There are some shocking scenes in the film, one in particular that doesn’t just tug at the heart strings, but rips them out, stamps on them, then pour salt into the still open wound. This ultimately, however, makes for an extremely rewarding film that is brimming with characterisation, empathy and a willingness to see ‘right’ done. A film that sets out to open up the world of Berk and succeeds brilliantly yet keeps an intimate story thread that no amount of wild fantasy can dampen. Thoroughly recommended.

    Blu-ray Picture Quality

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 Blu-ray Picture Quality
    The disc presents a theatrically correct 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region Free.

    Stunning. The picture on the previous ‘Dragon’s film was reference and this one has bettered it with an astonishing image of rich, rewarding detail, colouring and depth. The detail on show is amazing; there are certain elements that are photorealistic, such as some of the ocean shots, or cliff faces, or even clothing, check out the wear and tear in the Viking leathers! Dragon scales, human hair, tooth and nail; these are just some of the close up imagery that, if it wasn’t fantasy, could be real. Wave action, flames, smoke and snow plumes are all expertly seen and add so much to an already incredible looking picture.

    Stunning

    Colours are sublime, all the primaries come off without wash or bleed, reds are simply gorgeous, greens shimmer and blues are epic. There is no banding or posterization either. Check out the turquoise of the dragon’s snow breath, how it has a depth. Flesh tones look entirely natural in this animation too.

    Contrast and brightness give rise to stunning black levels that add a huge amount of depth to the frame – even in this 2D version there is plenty of available 3D pop. I’ve commented on the photorealistic nature of some of the elements, well the black levels push that beyond into some sort of hyperphotorealistic nature.

    Digitally there are no compression problems, edge enhancement, banding, jaggies or anything else to spoil what is a fully rounded and absorbing image. Truly stunning.

    Blu-ray Sound Quality

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 Blu-ray Sound Quality
    I went with the dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, and it is just as stunning as that of the picture quality. Dialogue is faithfully represented, sounds perfectly natural and given plenty of directionality when called for matching the on screen action along with the other countless effects that employ the surround speakers. This is no ‘wall of sound’ this is a well-engineered mix that works in layers as well as directionality mirroring the on screen antics and throwing you centre stage of all the action. Effects are myriad from dragon fly passes, flames, catapult nets, roars, explosions – you name it, the track has them all whizzing in all directions. But away from the more action orientated scenes there is still plenty to marvel at with ambience being provided to give a near realistic nature, camp fires, wind, outside living etc.

    The score too makes full use of the speakers and sits well within the mix to enhance the story telling to a tee. Bass is very well manages, filling out the bottom end, and providing plenty of LF effects when called for, no thick barrage of bass though, it is tight and ‘musical’ in its delivery. A thoroughly absorbing surround track that has you panting for more.

    Blu-ray Extras

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 Blu-ray Extras
    Fishlegs’ Dragon Stats – A brief look at the different Dragon classes, watch individually or with play all.
    Drago’s War Machines – Similar format, only with the Dragon trapping equipment.
    Hiccup’s Inventions in Flight – Déjà vu? Same only with Hiccup’s flight gear.
    Berk’s Dragon World – A look at Berk now that it houses Dragons.
    Stills Gallery – Plenty of production artwork and pictures; manual or automatic advance.
    Deleted Scenes – Four scenes, all with introduction from DeBlois, none are needed and are in varying quality of animatic or animated storyboard.
    Theatrical Trailer
    Sneak Peeks – Trailers for coming soon
    World of Dreamworks Animation – Trailers for available content.

    And that’s your lot – once again the UK disc is missing some excellent content that the US disc contains, this time the best of the lot: a newly animated short, an audio commentary and an hour making of documentary – disgraceful and loses this disc a point.

    Verdict

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 Verdict
    The Dragons franchise seems to be going from strength to strength. Returning director Dean DeBlois has taken this second film in a bold new adult direction, in terms of character arcs and the fantasy world as a whole, and expanded it in every direction; thematically, emotionally, geographically and story emphasis. And all for the betterment of the film, for this sequel matches and could be said to better the original.

    The story this time around takes place some five years after the events depicted in the original; the citizens of Berk are now living very happily with their Dragons, even building a ‘quidditch’ type sport around their unique abilities. All seems well in the world, save that Hiccup, still inventive and still empathetic, does not want to take on the responsibility of leadership, even though his father insists that he do so. He would rather continue to explore their world and map it out, but on one fateful day he comes across Dragon trappers and discovers that there is a new threat; Drago a warmongering Viking who can also control Dragons (though through fear) wishes to rule the world and sees Berk and the mysterious Dragon Rider as targets in that aim. It is up to Hiccup and his faithful sidekick Toothless to try, once again, to save the day; but it is only through sacrifice, reconciliation and some truly shocking events that this is possible.

    As a film that sets out to open up the world of Berk, it succeeds brilliantly, and yet manages to keep an intimate story thread that no amount of wild fantasy can dampen.

    As a Blu-ray Dreamworks have released a decent enough package. The Picture quality is outstanding in terms of detail, dynamics, colour reproduction and sheer magnificence, a clear benchmark, while the sound, being bombastic and refined in equal measure keeps up the reference score for quality. The extras are a very thin on the ground and it is a bit stiff that the UK comes up so short compared to the US disc (again) and as such the verdict loses a point for buyability. However the film is good enough to bypass this major shortfall. Recommended.

    The Rundown

    Movie

    9

    Picture Quality

    10

    Sound Quality

    10

    Extras

    4

    Overall

    8

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10
    You own this Total 1
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

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