How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Desperate to prove his Viking mantle in the eyes of his village and chieftain father Stoic the Vast, cynical blacksmith Hiccup tries to earn his place in dragon training by killing the dreaded Night Fury. Using his technical wiles to ground the infamous beast, Hiccup finds himself unable to do the deed and instead finds himself warming to the unexpectedly docile dragon. Naming him Toothless, the two slowly develop a friendship only for Hiccup to find himself enrolled in training anyway. Sure of his inability to kill a dragon, Hiccup must overcome overwhelming resistance to convince his village that dragons are not the monsters that they believe them to be.

I don’t know how many reviews of How to Train Your Dragon I’ve written now, but as my favourite film of last year – and one of my very favourites of all time – I feel it is my duty to pay it dividends whenever possible. This month, and practically every month since its release, I revisited Burk for another dose of nigh unbeatable story-telling.  Satisfied entirely, I couldn’t help but consider why it is this film – and not any other, including Academy Award winner Toy Story 3 – that made such a lasting impression.

Coming not from celebrated animation studio Pixar but from DreamWorks, the company responsible for Shark Tale, How to Train Your Dragon certainly had the element of surprise. Although the company had shown rare imagination with Kung Fu Panda, and were finally shaping up to redeem their flailing Skrek franchise, nothing could have prepared audiences for the cinematic treat afforded by Dragon. Less reliant on an all-star cast, and with a beautifully written script and John Powell’s phenomenal score supporting the admittedly excellent animation, the film was proved a three dimensional, immersive experience in more ways than one.

Jay Baruchel paints an endearing hero, cynical beyond his years and with a witty retort saved for any occasion. Alienated from his peers and tolerated by his father, Hiccup’s encounter with Toothless and their subsequent friendship resonates with truisms as relevant to adults as they are to the film’s principle child audience. From the note-perfect performances – even the supporting cast shine – to the simple but effective character animations – Toothless in particular emotes with enthralling conviction – the stars have certainly aligned for a studio in serious need of their own bona-fide masterpiece.

While I never fail to marvel at the effects – my jaw is still somewhere in Screen 1, beside my 3D glasses – it is another aspect of the movie that has left me aching for more. 24 tracks culminating in Jónsi’s whimsical “Sticks & Stones” the film’s soundtrack is a piece of art on it’s own. Matching and often transcending what escorts it on screen, Powell has produced a truly magnificent and inspiring piece of music that soars with the dynamic duo as successfully as it haunts the film’s more contemplatative moments. Endlessly uplifting, it will honestly leave you smirking for days.

With a sequel due for release in 2013, and a television series set to air in the meantime, it is easy to fear oversaturation might somehow diminish the charm of the delightfully understated original. If the studio can duplicate their astonishing success however, the result will be well worth the slight trepidation. Even if this budding franchise goes the way of Shrek, however, we can at least console ourselves with one of the most truly outstanding children’s animations films ever made.

 

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

4 Responses to How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

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