DETROIT -

Most movie sequels are not actually necessary. "How to Train Your Dragon 2" is not one of those movies. Smart, funny and exciting, this sequel not only matches the original, it surpasses it.

The sequel picks up five years later where Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless have turned their hometown, which used to wage war against dragons, into a place where dragons are, well, pets. As the movie opens, we find out Hiccup is being groomed by his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) to someday take his place as chief of their Viking tribe on Berk.

Like the first film, the animation is spectacular. The original film's all-star cast returns, including America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Craig Ferguson and Cate Blanchett, who plays Hiccup's long lost mother.

The film's villain, Drago Bloodfist, is assembling a dragon army that becomes a threat to the peace on Berk.

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is not just dragons. It carries much more depth and emotion than it's predecessor. The writing is brilliant, and the character development is phenomenal, considering it's an animated children's movie. The tragic turn of events are executed in an almost "Lion King" esk manner. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this film, and at the very least, you'll get a good laugh.

RATING: 4.5/5 STARS