DreamWorks’ "How To Train Your Dragon 2" considerably expands the world introduced in the first film, and that expansion includes a significant new presence: Valka, the long-lost mother of dragon-riding protagonist Hiccup, voiced by Cate Blanchett. The film devotes much of its sweet, sensitive middle act to introducing her, and building her up into a complicated, nuanced character. She’s mysterious and formidable, capable of taking Hiccup and his dragon partner Toothless out of the sky with casual ease. She’s knowledgable: Two decades of studying dragons means she knows Toothless’ anatomy better than he does. She’s wise. She’s principled. She’s joyous. She’s divided. She’s damaged. She’s vulnerable. She’s something female characters so often aren’t in action/adventure films with male protagonists: She’s interesting.
Too bad the story gives her absolutely nothing to do.