The general public really has to understand that animated feature films are not only for kids to enjoy, but for adults to too. They may get this idea from many animated films featuring fart jokes and one-dimensional characters, but then they aren’t watching the right movies. Is How To Train Your Dragon a great example of an animated film done right?
The screenplay and dialogue were surprisingly deep and meaningful. If you break it down to its core, the film is about acceptance of others and animals (dragons). It’s also speaks loudly about how you shouldn’t judge others for being different from you and the bond between man and beast. The writers were trying and succeeded to spread a worthy message, speaking out to people who judge others before meeting them.
The animation was very well done. The village, Berk, which the Vikings reside on, had a lot of personality and uniqueness to it. Each dragon had a different look and style, even attitude. Nothing was generic, except for the famous stature of the Viking people. But that’s just something you can’t reinvent. The scenes where Hiccup and Toothless are flying are wonderfully exhilarating.
The humor found in the film was well thought out and funny, no fart or poop jokes here. Jay Baruchel’s performance was a big part of the reason the humor worked as well as it was written. Jay’s performance as the awkward, out-of-place viking Hiccup was excellent. His voice and the character matched up perfectly.
Throughout the film, Hiccup was trying to find whom he was in his world dominated by big-boned Vikings. In the end he manages to stay true to himself and change a whole village for the better. But not without Toothless, his helpful dragon pal. Toothless came alive on the screen, he was basically a mirror of Hiccup’s personality. The duo was a very inspiring pair. There relationship causes you to long for a similarly strong connection with another creature.
Gerald Butler plays the disappointed father of Hiccup, Stoick. He’s perfect for the role, and is a very convincing Viking. I really enjoyed Hiccup’s peers featured in the film, which included voices from Christopher Mintz-Plasse, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wig. Each of their respected characters played out a typical teenage persona: nerd, jock, popular girl, and action junkies. They all had fun with their roles, making their characters enjoyable and not tiringly similar for the audience.
There is really only one nitpick I had for this otherwise fantastic film. Maybe I am getting a little greedy, but I was hoping to be a little more emotionally hit by the movie’s message. I was affected by it, but not to the degree that I was hoping to be.
DreamWorks Animation has been trying to repeat the success they had with 2001’s Shrek for years, and they’ve finally done it with How To Train Your Dragon. The film feels fresh and new, even four years later. It’s meaningful, funny and just plain enjoyable. Young and old will enjoy this animated outing.
Director: Dean Deblois, Chris Sanders
Screenplay: Dean Deblois, Chris Sanders, William Davies
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wig
Running Time: 98 Minutes