Tuesday, April 06, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon, a Review

Call me a sucker for animated films, but I can’t help it.  They’re almost always a win in my book, as I usually find myself engrossed in the world of CGI.  DreamWorks new feature, How to Train Your Dragon, fits great into the scads of computer-animated films that I like to say I enjoy.

how_to_train_your_dragon_ver3 The story takes place on the island of Berk.  Young Hiccup, the Viking chief’s son, is a walking disaster.  Everything he touches breaks.  Even venturing outdoors often invokes fear and awe in the villagers.  Hiccup is a scrawny lad, lacking all the rugged muscle and bulk all the other Viking’s have.  His father is the most famous of all dragon slayers, and though Hiccup longs to be like everyone else, he’s hampered by his physique.

But Hiccup has more than just daddy issues to work on.  His village is constantly attacked by dragons.  They come in the night and steal their livestock, burning down the homes as they fight the mighty Vikings.  One night, during an attack, the dreaded Night Fury, a dragon so mysterious and dangerous that no one’s ever even seen one, shows up.  Hiccup, in an effort to prove himself, decides that he will capture and kill the Night Fury, thus earning his father’s respect, the admiration of the town, and the heart of the cute little blond Astrid he’s had his eyes on.  While the village is occupied with the dragons, Hiccup sneaks away and launches his plan, and things will never be the same…

As I mentioned, I really like animated films.  They seem to pack more of a punch than many live-action movies.  Mayhap this is because we feel a little safer when dealing with imaginary situations.  Maybe it’s because we see them as children’s movies and we let our guard down.  Whatever the case is, many of the computer-animated films deal with heavy issues (see Up if you don’t believe me).  How to Train Your Dragon was no different, dealing with daddy issues, self-confidence, and moral objection of societal views to name a few.  And while movies like this often have “feel good,” happy endings, I don’t feel cheated or mislead when I see them.  No, I cheer.  Our lives have too many problems as it is.  If I can see achievement and accomplishment in someone else, even if that someone is a computer-animated Hiccup, then I can find meaning and apply it to my life as well.

This movie is different from other CGI films, too.  I was expecting a lot more comedy (like Shrek) thrown in with the adventure, but instead it was the other way around.  The worldbuilding is massive and creative, filled with possibilities for adventure, and our hero finds himself on one.  The movie does succeed in delivering funny jokes/scenes, but honestly I was more excited about the plot.

My favorite thing of the film, however, was definitely the dragons.  (What fantasy reader can resist dragons when they’re done right?)  The writers have imagined many different kinds of dragons.  Some are small and dorky looking.  Some are fierce monsters as large as a building.  Some have thick scales.  Some have multiple heads.  All of them were visually stunning and beautiful.  Yes, there are plenty of dragons in the movie, and my favorite was definitely the Night Fury.  This dragon reminded me of my pet dog Stella.  Some of the mannerisms and actions were identical, so it was hard for me not to like the Night Fury.  In addition, the relationship between the dragon and Hiccup was endearing and heartfelt, harkening up familiar feelings to anyone that’s ever owned and loved a pet.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie.  I watched it in 3D (as we had my 8-yr-old brother-in-law with us), and it was impressive, but plain-ole 2D would have easily sufficed.  DreamWorks has some failed movies in its past, but How to Train Your Dragon isn’t one of them.  I can easily recommend the movie for anyone who wants to be thrilled and entertained.  To me, it was worth the full-price of the movie ticket(s) on a weeknight, so that’s saying something.

Hiccup and Toothless

9 comments:

Krista said...

This sounds super cool and I love animated films, too, as well as my 2 year old. :) You can never be too old for a good animated film, I say!

I don't think I've seen a preview for this movie before but your right us fantasy fans love dragons! lol I'm definitely gonna have to see it.

P.S. I got The Things Christians like for free yesterday and I've been listening to it whenever I'm on the computer and so far I like it, he is funny. I have only listened to an audio maybe once or twice before but I gotta say I like it and think his voice and character add to the book. Its pretty cool...

Crystal said...

How to Train Your Dragon sounds fun. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Great review!

Mattson Tomlin said...

first positive review I've found...

logankstewart said...

@Krista: Never too old, indeed. I hope you like the SCL book!

@Crystal: 'Twas fun. Thanks!

@Mattson: Really?! Wow. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 98% fresh right now. I've not heard much about it elsewhere, but I liked it.

David Wagner said...

May have to check it out. Thanks for the review, bro.

logankstewart said...

@Dave: You're welcome, friend.

Kristopher A. Denby said...

Great review. I have been looking forward to this one, and just haven't had time to get out and see movies. I love me some Vikings! Thanks Logan!

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

We are wanting to see this. My 10 yr old son and I are excited to go see this, and my husband is okay with going along. Thank you for this great review of the movie. We are going to have to go see it soon now. :)

logankstewart said...

@Kris: You'll love it, I have a feeling.

@Melissa: Thanks, and I hope you get to see it soon.