How to Train Your Dragon

April 18, 2010
When it comes to Dreamworks Animation, I'm usually hesitant about what films come out from that company. The films can range anywhere from smart and nicely-animated (Prince of Egypt) to mind numbingly boring/stupid (Madagascar). Despite this, when I learned that the creators of Lilo & Stitch - arguably one of the most creative Disney films in a long time - were behind How to Train Your Dragon, my interest for the film skyrocketed. The two men behind the film had done very little since Lilo & Stitch, so I was profoundly interested in seeing what heir next work would be like. While their latest film isn't as good as their first, and it actually seems to take a few plot elements from that film, I still found myself enjoying this Dreamworks Animation film.

The film follows a young teenage Viking named Hiccup, who was so named in order that his "tough" name may strike fear into the hearts of dragons everywhere. For, in this mythical Viking world, dragons have been an issue since the earliest days of the Vikings, and neither side seems to be capable of attempting a ceasefire. Hiccup, however, isn't exactly Viking material, as he's nowhere near as tough, bloodthirsty, or bold as the rest of his fellow Vikings seem to be. Desperate to fit in, Hiccup tries multiple times to capture a dragon, sadly meeting failure at every turn. One night, after finally capturing a real dragon with a new device, Hiccup finds himself unable to kill the creature, and instead befriends the pitch-black-colored dragon.

Visually, this film is just wonderful to look at. With bright colors, great-looking backgrounds, and CGI that's just a treat to the eye, the film's visuals are just stunning. I loved every bit of this film's design, as one could easily see the craftsmanship and work put into this extremely good-looking film. Nothing's out of place, and the vibrant colors, rich textures, and nice designs really helps to sell the film.

Character-wise, the film's only OK. These characters are likable and charming, but they're not exactly the most memorable, or the most original for that matter. There's the self-loathing teenage boy, the cute girl who's out of his league, the demanding father - they're nice archetypes, and I have no problem with simple characters, but it makes me feel as if I've seen this film before. The same could be said for the film's plot. Overall, I'd say that, as far as characters and story go, the film's predictable but still very cute.

The pacing throughout the film is quite nice as well, and the film flows well during its moments of frantic chaos and its moments of calm tranquility. The first and second acts are really quite interesting, as the world that's been set up in this film is engrossing due to its background and focus on heritage. Sadly, the same can't be said for the third act, which is all flash and little to no substance. We've got impressive-looking dragon fights, that's true, but it seems as if the story was put on hold so that the kiddies might get some good action in.

Though it's pretty cliche and the third act is a snore-fest, How to Train Your Dragon is a fantastic-looking movie with cute characters and an interesting concept to back it up. A pretty good movie through and through.

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