The most wondrous and resonant moments of DreamWorks’s 2010 animated surprise “How to Train Your Dragon” had less to do with the writing than with the rendering. There seemed to be little dialogue in scenes of young, nasally Viking misfit Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) bonding with the mythical creature he’d wounded but couldn’t bear to kill, and eventually soaring through the skies with him. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” recaptures those lyrical highs. But returning writer-director Dean DeBlois also aims to layer on more poignancy for Baruchel and his castmates to play. At points, we’re left feeling a little detached.
A frenetic, Quidditch-like dragon-racing opener reminds us of the attitude adjustment that Hiccup brought to Berk, his harsh island home, with his exploits of a few years back. The Vikings have warmed up to their former community scourge, and now realize how perfect dragons are for stoking the hearth and going really, really fast. No need to tell Hiccup, whose happy place is still with his exotic winged pal, Toothless, touching the clouds and skimming the ocean’s surface. Our hero has even applied his gadget-cobbling skills to make himself motocross-cool flight armor complete with glider wings. More than ever, these magical 3-D visuals feel like a Blue Angels routine customized for the Tolkien crowd.