Djimon Hounson as Drago and America Ferrera as Astrid

Djimon Hounson as Drago and America Ferrera as Astrid

There is something for all family members at theaters this weekend. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” has double the appeal of its predecessor.

“Dragon 2” returns to the magical island of Berk where Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) first met Toothless, and not only visually captivates, but introduces other compelling stories with unexpected outcomes.

Djimon Hounson took his son to see the 2010 “How to Train Your Dragon,” never realizing he would be appearing as Drago in it’s sequel. “The first one I saw with my son and was very impressed,” Hounson recollected. “But I never dreamed of being in the second movie.”

Hounson also never imagined the hard work that went into the filming. “It was quite a different experience,” he explained. “It’s just you, the mike and the director. Once you’re in the room by yourself and reading, you have to dig down deep for your character. It’s a lot of work. I thought it would be a walk in the park going in there to just lay your voice down, but it’s not. There’s so much more involved and can be exhausting. I felt like I was working out.”

Gerard Butler (Stoic) thought the story was heart wrenching at times because the animated film had so much to offer to children, and adults alike. “This kid’s film deals with some adult issues like estranged parents, parents who have split up, abandonment, a single father bringing up a son, [etc.],” Butler reveals. Certain parts of the movie were very profound for me. I didn’t see my father for 14-years and didn’t even know he was alive. One day he just turned up out of the blue. Kids love fantasy and if you can show a young boy a life lesson, and tools that will get him through strife during his teenage years, I think that’s brilliant filmmaking.”

Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristen Wiig round out the cast.

For the teenage crowd and the geek squad crew there is “The Signal,” that stars Laurence Fishburne (Damon), who plays a doctor. This stylized sci fi is a thinking man’s esoteric extraterrestrial film. In it, three college students who are hackers go on a road trip and confront Nomad, the hacker that has piqued their interest online. They should have taken the old adage, “curiosity killed the cat,” to heart because not all fared well. This thriller will keep audiences on pills and needles and guessing right up to the end.

Fishburne’s attachment to the project helped to put “The Signal” on the radar. Director/co-writer William Eubank was forthcoming in his comments about the esteemed veteran’s involvement. “He [Fishburne] knows how much weight his voice gives to scenes and knows how to use the slightest expression to the utmost extent,” Eubank offered. “He asked me if he had to wear his character’s [protective] costuming the whole time. I said, yes. He said, ‘Are you sure?’ and I told him, ‘yes.’ ‘Okay, I’m onboad,’ he said. ‘I just wanted to make sure.’ He loves getting into a character, past the point where some actors whould go; he’s unafraid and bold about his character choices.”

Laurence Fishburne in The Signal

Laurence Fishburne in The Signal

Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp also stars.

If you thought Charles Bronson (“Death Wish”) and Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) were ruthless when it came to the scum of the earth, well meet Eric (Guy Pearce) in “The Rover.” Steal something from him and he becomes your worst nightmare. If all carjackers met the kind of justice Eric doled out, there would be less carjacking. Pearce’s co-star, Robert Pattison, is almost unrecognizable in the role of Rey. Pattison, know for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and the teen dream Edward Cullen in “Twilight,” has successfully broken out of his juvenile appeal phase without going buck wild and acting the fiool. Pattison lets his work speak for him.

Set in the Australian outback ten years following the collapse of society, the rule of the law has disintegrated and life is cheap. When a motley three steals the one thing that matters to hardened loner Eric, there is no length he will go through to get his car back. Eric finds the half dead hick, Rey, on the side of the road. He gets him patched up and makes him an unlikely accomplice.

The different types of music interspersed throughout the movie are ingenious. Seeing Rey sitting inside a car in the middle of a desolate, barren Australian sun scorched wasteland singing “Pretty Girl Rock,” along with a Keri Hilson recording, changed the whole landscape. The haunting spiritual “I Heard the Voice of Jesus” by Pattie Rosemon with Frankie and Odie Rosemon, and The Ink Spots’ “Do I Worry,” were among the incredible musical selections.

Directed by David Michod (“Animal Kingdom”), the cast also includes Scoot McNairy, David Field and Tawanda Manyimo, who born and raised in Zimbabwe but moved to New Zealand at the age of 22.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected].