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Posted on 11/08/10 05:59 PM
Vikings? Dragons? 3D? This movie could have been some sort of CGI-ridden, terrible plot disaster. Luckily, it wasn't even close. How to Train Your Dragon is action-packed, very unique, and quite funny.
The characters are very strange in this movie, and that's not a bad thing. The main character, Hiccup, with his terrible name, is a gangly, skinny Viking who'd rather invent a cannon to ensnare dragons than have to kill one. Hiccup is hilariously sarcastic at times and manages to infuriate the entire village at multiple points in the movie. After ensnaring a deadly Night Fury his world is turned upside-down. Hthe Night e eventually heals, domesticates and learns to fly the Night Fury, which he names Toothless. Another character is Astrid, who is the quintessential Viking, lusting for glory as a successful dragon-slayer. Other characters include Hiccups' dad, Stoick the Vast; the town dragon-slaying trainer, Gobber the Belch; and Fishlegs Ingerman, a nerdy Viking who likes to express his dragon knowledge like he's playing a RPG. Some of the characters can be hard to distinguish, but they're all likable and fairly original.
The plot is at some points fairly predictable, but is good fun and has a nice message. Some of the key plot points are obvious, but some are nicely surprising and unique. I liked the film's messages supporting peace and fair treatment of animals. While the film is good fun without those, it's nice to be able to take away more from an animated film than just a good story.
The voice acting is really good in this. Jay Baruchel, who voices Hiccup, was the perfect casting choice. He delivers Hiccups' sarcastic remarks with the perfect amount of seriousness and a spot-on tone. Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast may have been a slightly strange choice, but he is, if nothing special, not at all a drawback to the movie. The same can be said for America Ferrera as Astrid. I liked how Christopher Mintz-Plasse, a.k.a. McLovin, was cast as Fishlegs.
The animation is very impressive in this movie. While I'm a huge fan of Pixar's look, and this clearly was a DreamWorks movie, I thought that it was imagined, and rendered, beautifully. I thought that Toothless was designed perfectly. He looked enough like a dragon to be believable, but he also looked fairly tame, sad and lonely. His frequent feline actions make him easily relatable and easily lovable for a "useless reptile". The Vikings all looked fairly Viking-like, the town was fairly predictable but unique at the same time, and the other dragons were all surprisingly diverse and interesting.
Another great aspect of this movie is the music. The score by John Powell is both delicate at points, and very grand and impressive at others. It is a great compliment to the film, and really makes the action scenes, the training scenes and the heartwarming scenes that much more powerful.
I have but a few complaints. I wasn't a big fan of the whole Aladdin-style dragon ride that Hiccup and Astrid took when Astrid found out about Toothless. That seemed more like the result of a lack of any better ideas than a scene that the screenwriters were really proud of. Also, I wasn't a big fan of how most Vikings were still treated fairly singularly, without too many variation in their personalities or actions. Also, I think that the movie could've been slowed down a little. 1:40 isn't long. It could've been lengthened a little and I think that it would have been a little more cohesive.
Lead acting: 19/20
Supporting acting: 13/15