How to Train Your Dragon 2

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A sequel to (guess what) How to Train Your Dragon. The IMDB raters (as I type) have given this a slightly lower rating (8.0) than its predecessor (8.2, and number 152 of the best 250 movies of all time). But I liked it a bit better.

The Viking land of Berk has settled into a cooperative harmony with its dragon population. Hiccup, the previous movie's hero, is getting along with his dad, Stoick. Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless, are devoted to each other, and like nothing better than to explore the neighboring lands.

But Hiccup and his pals happen upon a ragtag crew of dragon-trappers, who are accumulating the beasts for the brutish, evil, wannabe-world-conquering Drago. And another strange character appears, a masked dragon-rider whose skills are comparable to Hiccup's. Who is it? No spoilers, sorry.

This movie has a fine plot and sympathetic characters, but wait, there's more: The animation folks at Dreamworks continue to display their almost-Pixar levels of imagination and expertise to make it jaw-droppingly gorgeous at points, hilarious in others, and butt-clenching at others. So good on them.

And, yes, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is apparently in the works. I'll be there.