Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is the story of the war between a village of Vikings and a group of flying, fire-breathing dragons that keep raiding the village. Talk about a movie that could go one of two different ways! Throw out the fact that it’s animated. So were 300 and BEOWULF. This could be either a cute, kid-friendly comedy with humor, anachronistic dialogue, and “awww” moments, or a dark, gritty action movie with lots of intense violence, stirring music, and spectacular images.

Well, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON doesn’t make that choice. It’s actually both of those things, and somehow it works really well.

The appearance of the human characters is exaggerated and cartoony, but the dragons are fairly realistic. (Yes, I know how odd that sounds, but you know what I mean.) The attacks on the village are pretty harrowing. The protagonist is a teenage boy called Hiccup, definitely a comedy name, but at the same time he’s dealing with some angsty issues like being a disappointment to his heroic father, the leader of the village. Death and mutilation figure heavily in the back-story, although there’s not much in the actual film. Eventually the action elements begin to dominate, pushing the cuteness into the background for the most part, and this becomes a good old-fashioned adventure movie, which you probably wouldn’t pick up from the marketing campaign.

A lot of times when I start watching an animated film, I don’t know who does the voices, and part of the fun is trying to figure out who they are. One of the characters here is pretty easy to pin down, but I didn’t have a clue who the other actors were. They all do excellent jobs, though. (And I’m not going to say who they are, in case you watch this movie and want to guess, too.)

I didn’t really know what to expect from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, but I enjoyed it a lot. I think it’s definitely worth watching.


Paul Bishop said...

A really fun movie...I especially liked the Vikings all talking with Scottish brogues...hilariously anachronistic.

Rick Ollerman said...

We took our kids to see it and were pretty disappointed by the violence, especially in the grand battle at the end with the Vikings smashing the dragons in the eyes with hammers, etc. I wanted to leave but my wife said we should stay. When it was over, I asked our nine year old how she like it and she said it was okay except for how the people beat on the dragons.

On the other hand, no one else I know seems to have been particularly struck by it. It seems especially incongruous given the harmony at the end. Anyway, being a bit smarter now, I wouldn't let my kids see it. My wife or I should have vetted it first.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have been trying to get my grandson to watch it with me. I thought when I had a grandchild I would get to see all these movies but so far he's not a movie kid. I guess it may be just as well based on Rick's comments.

Chadzilla said...

Pretty spot on description of one of the best animated movies of 2010. My son adored this movie so much that he opted to go and see it again...on his own, paying with his own allowance, another two or three times!

Another thing that we (the family) all loved about it was how Toothless looked and acted exactly like our black cat. We were giggling at the unintentional resemblence throughout most of the movie.

Great movie. Great memories of seeing it.

Richard R. said...

In the Netflix queue... and I bought the soundtrack upon reading your comments and some reviews on soundtrack sites.

James Reasoner said...

I admit, I didn't even think about this movie's suitability (or lack of same) for kids, because we were all adults watching it. But it is pretty violent and in some ways reminded me of THE 13TH WARRIOR, one of my favorite films. I think it would be okay for kids 12 and up, say. Maybe it should have been rated PG-13.

Speaking just for myself, though, the more I think about it, the more I like it. And buying the soundtrack's not a bad idea. Might be good music to write by.

George said...

I liked HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. The relationship between father and son was surprisingly poignant.

Anonymous said...

My 11-year-old daughters wanted to see this, so we went to see it in the theater earlier this year. I wasn't expecting much, but was very, very pleasantly surprised. A great film.
~ Ron C.