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Somehow it's been a full three years since How To Train Your Dragon surprised just about everybody by being not just another Pixar knockoff, not just good enough, but really great on its own terms. And it's taken a while but the animated hit is finally getting a sequel, set for release June 20 next year. That's our first look at it above.
In the true spirit of a teaser, this doesn't give us a sense at all of the movie's plot, just the feeling of what we're in for. A year before a movie is coming out, that's really all you need. How To Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years after the original film, which explains that glimpse of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) at the end there looking surprisingly grown-up. This scene of Hiccup and Toothless exploring the skies isn't just a one-off-- in the sequel the two of them are officially explorers, "charting unmapped territories and exploring now worlds." Here's more from the synopsis over at Empire:
"The thrilling second chapter of the epic How To Train Your Dragon trilogy brings back the fantastical world of Hiccup and Toothless five years later. While Astrid, Snoutlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace."
That's the great thing about making a sequel to a fantasy film set in a very big world-- you can always just throw in a new cave and a colony of dragons and have more than enough conflict for a second film. Word broke over a year ago that Game of Thrones' Kit Harrington would be voicing a "villainous warrior" in the film, and it seems pretty safe to guess that's the Dragon Rider mentioned above. We've also been promised that How To Train Your Dragon was "the first act in a much larger story," and with a third film already scheduled, How To Train Your Dragon 2 looks more like the scene-setting, Empire Strikes Back kind of sequel, leading us into the giant conflict of the trilogy's conclusion.
In addition to Harrington and the returning Baruchel, the How To Train Your Dragon 2 voice cast includes a lot of familiar names from the first film-- America Ferrera as Hiccup's crush Astrid, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as other dragon warriors in training, and Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler lending their authentic Scottish accents to play the Viking grownups. Having those funny people on board is all well and good, but the real draw of How To Train Your Dragon 2 is right there in this teaser-- the promise of getting to feel like you're soaring through the air, and that you have an actual pet as entertaining as Toothless (my cat has just never lived up to that standard). Give us more soaring and flying and John Powell's score, and everything else ought to fall into place.