Artificial Continuum

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon maybe among the best animated films I’ve seen in the last few years. Easily outranking numerous other Dreamworks films such as Monsters Vs Aliens, and the two Shrek sequels, How To Train Your Dragon is an animated comedy that is filled with wit and spectacle. However, it is not a perfect film and struggles from several minor flaws that prevent me from giving it a higher rating.

The film follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) a hapless scrawny Viking, who lives in a village where the only occupation is dragon killing. Hiccup is a screw up inventor, only venturing outside to make mistakes that put others in danger. To make things worse his father Stoick (Gerad Butler) is the village leader, who forces Hiccup to take part in the village academy for dragon killing. Hiccup’s only success is shooting down the elusive Night Fury, a supersonic dragon that strikes in the dead of night. However when Hiccup attempts to kill the downed reptile, he panics and instead lets the dragon loose. Over the time this act of mercy, and Hiccup’s continued fascination with the wounded creature lead to a partnership through which the movie derives its title.

The real star for this film is the beautiful animation and 3D effects. The dragon themselves are creatively designed and are beautiful to watch on screen. There is also impressive detail added to the human characters. This may be a bizarre comment, but never before have I seen hair rendered better then in this film. However, the film really excels when Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless, take flight. The expert animation, editing, and 3D effects create beautiful and breathtaking sequences that are unparalleled in scope. Never before has a sequence of this type aroused such an emotional response in me.

Also of note is John Powell’s beautiful score, which adds to the amazing air sequences. Combining contemporary orchestral music with traditional Vikinig-esque sounds, Powell’s score is beautiful and breathtaking. It is simply a wonder to listen to, and it supplements the animation and actions to a perfect degree.

The story itself is familiar, but well executed. It strikes with a creative heart that is unfortunately missing from so many other animated films these days. The dragon, Toothless, is a scene stealer, and it is hard not to love the creature. It is also expertly voice acted, and Gerad Butler is a standout. However, the film struggles with falling into the occasional cliché, and is riddled with moments of cringe-worthy dialogue. The laughs are also a hit or miss. Some moments you’ll be chuckling heartily and others you will just shake your head at the films attempts at humor.

Despite this How to Train Your Dragon is a well-executed endeavor, and is one that is filled with heart and spectacle. Like Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon is a film that must be seen in a 3D theater in order to fully appreciate the experience. How to Train Your Dragon is a great, if slightly flawed film, that is sure to enthrall audiences of all ages.

Score: -A


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