CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Heroic, Visually Bold ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’
CHICAGO – “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is spectacular in 3D, the filmmakers actually geared the film to enhance that much maligned vision. It also features a warm and heroic story about the coming-of-age for the character Hiccup, and his now fully trained dragon, Toothless.
The film evokes emotion in its visuals, they are so beautiful. From the Viking home of Berk, to the travels of Hiccup and Toothless, there is a stunning and artistically graphic world created – both above and below the clouds. The story is a bit more common and expected, but fine for the intended child audience. The combination of dragons, Vikings, flight and goofy humor should be irresistible to the kiddies, and the famous voice over actors behind the characters aim to please. While not sharing a classic story status with “Frozen” – as the previews imply – “How to Train Your Dragon 2” satisfies with its own ability to create awe at the movies.
It’s five years after the events of the first film, and the Viking village of Berk is at peace with the dragon population, who now live amongst the villagers and participate in their hottest spectator sport, dragon races. The gang from the first film is back, including Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), with his faithful dragon companion Toothless. Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is satisfied, and he’s planning to pass along the role of chief to his now famous son.
A twist occurs when Hiccup and his galpal Astrid (America Ferrera) discover the remains of a burnt out fort. It is the work of an insane conqueror name Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and it involves a dragon trapper named Eret (Kit Harrington). This opens up a hidden drawer of secrets including the manipulation of the dragon’s alpha species and the possibility that a mystery woman named Valka (Cate Blanchett) may be Hiccup’s long lost mother.
Hiccup (Voice of Jay Baruchel) and Company in ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox