One of the arts of writing anything - movie, novel, poem, play, music composition - is knowing the proper length for the work, the amount of time or space needed to make the story sparkle, with nothing more added and nothing less taken away. Only the essential should be kept in art. There is a “sweet spot” duration for any creative work, and every creative work requires a different amount of space. Some movies do a very great job of conveying everything they need in the course of ninety minutes, and adding time to it would be to drag out the tale unnecessarily. For others, ninety minutes is an unfeasible rush.
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ is 102 minutes long, and there are some areas which perhaps feel “skimped over,” suggesting that maybe the movie could be improved by extending the duration slightly. Eighteen more minutes, placing it at two hours long, could be about right.
Were these eighteen minutes to be added, I would think the following areas should have been targeted:
- Eret’s character and character plot arc could have improved with expansion. Every single canon scene with Eret demonstrates how he changes from wrangler to rider, yet sometimes the importance of his character feels lost given the movie’s current material. Given a little more screentime, Eret could have felt more “in place” within the movie rather than made him appear like a poor unwilling guy along for the ride. We have already seen one great deleted scene from him. He could definitely have been given more material.
- Drago could have been given more screentime likewise. Dean DeBlois himself has remarked that Drago lacks the dimension in the second film he will have in the third. While part of this is the intentional method in which the writers introduced the character, having him be “hearsay” for a long time before actually confronting Hiccup, there are still certain areas of improvement that could have drastically improved Drago’s portrayal on screen.
- A number of viewers also feel disjointed when Riding the Hatchlings begins. This scene starter is an abrupt, awkward transition after Stoick’s Ship. Appropriate time additions might alleviate this unpleasantly whiplashed mood change.
- Others could possibly argue that Astrid needs more glory moments. Appropriately done, sure. That could be cool.
- Very importantly to me, though: There are also some timing issues that could be fixed with a stretched time after the Battle of the Bewilderbeast and during the climactic fight sequence of Two New Alphas. Because the first battle is nine minutes long and ends with Toothless’ possession and Stoick’s death, the second fight does not feel as tense as it should be. It does not feel like the apex of action, especially given it takes place not long after the first battle ends. Some minor disproportionate time designations also factor into the timing wonkiness. Adding some extra time in the appropriate places could even out HTTYD 2′s plot structure and allow the final battle not to feel “tacked on” or “late”.
Therefore, while I am someone who believes only the essential should enter a final art product, slimming down to only the essence and giving nothing more… HTTYD 2 might have done well adding a little tiny bit more time onto the story. The producers probably felt like 102 minutes was pushing the envelope for their audience/genre as it was, but I would have appreciated some more material particularly involving Eret, Astrid, and Drago. It could have done well to iron out a few things.