22 Jump Street, How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Movie Reviews

22 Jump Street22 Jump Street – R
Release Date: Fri 13 Jun 2014

The sequel to my favorite R-rated comedy of 2012, 22 Jump Street is an equally self-aware satire of itself. As Nick Offerman’s deputy chief tells them in the trailer, no one expected the Jump Street reboot to work, but they got lucky. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return as Schmidt and Jenko respectively, undercover cops now attending college to track down a new designer drug dealer. In some ways, this removes a little of the fun of seeing two grown men pretend to be in high school as college is a much more permissive environment, but it still largely works here. The opening sequence is just as over the top as the car chases from the first movie and both the leads get there share of laughs.

If there’s a problem with 22 Jump Street, it’s the frustrating first half that reintroduces the conflict between Schmidt and Jenko that was resolved by the end of the first movie. It’s a cliche that the movie forgets to eschew or make fun of, and it’s depressing to have to wait for them to be on the same page and team up agains the world. Buddy cop movies work best when they’re actually buddies. They can snipe at each other and make jokes at the other’s expense, but we need to know deep down that they’re partners. This doesn’t happen until they head to spring break, but the movie really shifts into high gear once this happens.

Stay for the credits sequence and see all of the proposed sequels for some great premise gags and cameos. They start from 23 Jump Street and work their way up into the 40’s along with a 2121 future version. It’s great fun, and I appreciate it even more for the unstated agenda is to end the series on a high note. I can’t see a third film working and I don’t think the filmmakers would push their luck either. This movie has fewer belly laughs than the original and much of that is due to the idea no longer being novel. It’s still a very good R-rated time at the movies.

R.C., Cal and I saw it in the theater had a discussion in the car:

How to Train Your Dragon 2How to Train Your Dragon 2 – PG
Release Date: Fri 13 Jun 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 suffers from the over-complication of an extremely simple story. The broad strokes are there in the trailer: Hiccup (the lead human character) is reunited with his lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) and has to stop the evil dragon master Drago. The exposition is exceedingly wordy and relies on a series of flashbacks explaining the backstory of Drago and what happened to Valka. Once this is all established it plays out mostly as expected, with one twist that I found to be hollow emotional blackmail but I won’t spoil it here.

The animation is really stunning and among the best work Dreamworks has produced. The lighting effects and details on the dragon scales are excellent and some of the design work, particularly on Valka’s armor and her home “nest” are really gorgeous. The visual humor is also very good. There are several scenes where dragons are doing playful and funny things in the background while characters have a conversation. This further brings home the point that even distracting from the lengthy dialogue doesn’t cost much as the basic ideas are simple and easy to follow. Before Valka’s identity is revealed and we only see her in a face-covering armor with a primitive, tribal paint design the character is riveting and full of intrigue. As great as Cate Blanchett is, her spoken dialogue and the character’s role in the rest of the movie never delivers on the promise of those early encounters.

It’s a problem when a movie with this much dialogue lets you leave the theater without remembering most of the character’s names. Part of this is the mental gymnastics it takes to translate “Val” or “Valka” from some of the heavy accents, but even more is the generic names that describe characters like Hiccup, Toothless and Drago rather than properly name them. With three separate factions of humans and dragons to keep track of, secondary characters get lost in the shuffle even if they were big players (like Astrid) from the original film.

Still, this is a high-caliber family film that is a worthy successor to the 2010 hit and sure to be enjoyed by kids of all ages. It’s still fun to be a dragon rider.

Cal, Zak and I saw it in the theater had a discussion in the car:


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