Director(s): Dean Deblois, Chris Sanders
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson
‘How To Train Your Dragon’ is probably the best animated film franchise that DreamWorks has ever produced. It is both beautiful and profound on levels that eclipses most American made animated films. Before watching the film, I thought the concept of a boy interacting with a dragon and the two of them learning from one another to be a fascinating idea. The trailers for this movie suggested there was much more to the film than just crude humour and simple characters, the trailer was definitely enticing and I hoped the film wouldn’t let me down. Thankfully, the movie left me in awe with its impressive visuals, but it was the clever narrative and character development that kept me coming back.
The story is about a young man named Hiccup, who dreams of killing a dragon; a sign of manhood in his Viking village. However, Hiccup is not graced with the ferocity and physical strength of his father, so to counter this he uses his intelligence to build weapons and tools to help him in his endeavor. In one of his first attempts, he hits and injures a dragon known as Night Fury, perhaps the most mysterious of all the dragons in the land. Hiccup soon realizes that he is unable to follow in the footsteps of those before him. Instead, he decides to walk a new path and discovers that so much of what he had been told was untrue and only the combined forces of dragon and Viking combined can rid the land of the imminent threat.
The most striking aspect of the film was the dedication to its visuals. I’m not a fan of the 3D format, as I don’t consider a few visual tricks being worth the extra price, but this was the first film where I saw it work effectively. Even in 2D, the Viking landscape looks amazing. Some in the community want to wipe the dragons out completely, while others such as Hiccup want to teach the community how to live in harmony with the dragons, with both viewpoints expressed well within the movie. The musical score, crafted by John Powell, is just as beautiful as the visuals. His score fits perfectly with the tone of the film, to add an extra layer of emotion and heart to the whole experience. Quite simply, this movie is incredible; filled with heart, laughter, and valuable lessons about life and discovery. It also doesn’t sugar coat life, there are consequences to every action and sometimes a pristine ending isn’t realistic – a refreshing viewpoint for a family film to transmit.
There’s actually very little I didn’t like about this film. At times, the humour didn’t quite match the seriousness of the rest of the movie. Understandably, the movie’s target demographic is young children and so there needs to be some humour to lighten the mood. However, sometimes that humor was more childish than I felt it had to be. DreamWorks Studios have enjoyed success previously with the ‘Shrek’ and ‘Madagascar’ franchises, but ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ takes the company’s output to the next level and with so many successful franchises, it could be argued that Pixar might not have as firm a grasp on top spot as we all think. What better argument can there be to support DreamWorks claim to supremacy, than the brilliant ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. A film which is in my opinion, one of, if not the best animated features of all time.