‘Dragon 2′ covers surprisingly deep territory

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, left) tries out his gliding contraption while Toothless keeps watch in "How to Train Your Dragon 2." (AP Photo/DreamWorks Animation)

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, left) tries out his gliding contraption while Toothless keeps watch in “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” (AP Photo/DreamWorks Animation)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

I’ll go ahead and admit it: I’d like my own dragon, so I could climb on its back and terrorize Northeast Mississippi.

And both of my kids had fantasies about dragons or dragon-like creatures when they were younger.

We were primed for “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the continuing story of daring, young Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless.

In the first film, Hiccup earned the respect of his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), and transformed his village.

This time out, his father has new expectations that Hiccup doesn’t think he’s up to. He’d rather prolong his youth by hanging out with Toothless and discovering new territory.

But there’s a problem brewing in the cold Viking seas. A villain (Djimon Hounsou) is intent on enslaving dragons and ruling all of humanity. It’s a threat Hiccup would rather avoid, but can he do that and still keep the people he loves safe?

This is excellent storytelling that was written by director Dean DeBlois with inspiration from Cressida Cowell, author of the “How to Train Your Dragon” book series.

It’s an animated kids movie, but it tackles complex ideas about forgiveness, grief and responsibility. It also examines the hope for peace and the reality of war.

There are, of course, comedic moments, especially when Toothless gets overly enthusiastic with his tongue, but “How to Train Your Dragon 2” mixes action elements with drama and bits of romance to produce a well-rounded experience.

Baruchel is the perfect voice for Hiccup, who sounds sure of himself and his skills without sliding into cockiness.

And we’ve been trained to expect high-quality computer animation, but the world of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and the characters who inhabit it are wonderfully rendered. I can almost imagine stepping right into it, hopping on a dragon and flying away.

I give “How to Train Your Dragon 2” an A minus.

It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.