By Fred Topel | Image property of DreamWorks Animation
How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon is better than most of the Dreamworks animated films. I can’t even see the 3-D effect but I still found it visually engaging and the story is moving, without a lot of cheap humor.
Review: How to Train Your Dragon
It’s still got the basic structure of an animated film. A social outcast finds his surrogate family and returns to lead his people. In this case, Hiccup isn’t good at killing dragons like the other Vikings, so he goes out into the woods where he meets a dragon, Toothless. He learns to ride Toothless and brings that new skill back to the Vikings.
The dragons don’t talk so that does make it a little more original than the usual Disney knock-off (including every Disney movie post-Lion King). They actually have to communicate visually and learn the lessons without witty banter. You can’t fault a movie with the message: “Don’t kill. Learn instead.”
There’s big dragon action, flying around. Training is more exciting and emopowering than killing. There’s real danger of a human flying at those heights, if he falls, if he crashes.
The bonding scenes between Hiccup and Toothless are really sweet. It’s the classic boy and his dog story, where they communicate without words but totally get each other. Toothless kind of looks like Stitch, at least in the face, but even if that’s an unintentional homage, it works as such.
There are a lot of deep corridors and arenas to show off the 3-D depth, if your eyes work that way. The environments looks like they could be real. The grass and rocks looks like real grass and rocks. It’s only the human characters that look like cartoons, and the dragons because they don’t actually exist. The film finds creative ways to explore their world visually, lighting scenes with certain dragon light and playing with perspective.
There are lots of different dragon types that ensure you’ll have plenty of toys to buy. Either way, there’s lots of cool creatures to look at in the movie. It’s the next real movie in Dreamworks’ canon, along with Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. Don’t worry, it’s not another Shark Tale, Over the Hedge, Madagascar or Monsters Vs. Aliens.