How to Train Your Dragon Review
How to Train Your Dragon is a 2010 animated fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation and it is their best film do date and arguably one of the best animated films ever made.
It follows a Viking teenager who is a clumsy outcast. He accidentally captures a dragon and establishes a bond with him. But that development puts him against his father and the whole village as they deem dragons their enemies. This may sound like a familiar story, but it is anything but as it’s executed perfectly. It is so professional, so mature and so well crafted while simultaneously being sweet and simplistic and thus achieving a perfect balance. I loved the plot here. The first act wonderfully introduces you to this world and its characters, the second act is a pure character-driven drama and the third act is an action spectacle, but done in such an entertaining, emotionally powerful and epic manner. The ending alone just might be one of the best finales in an animated film. It is that good! It is a happy ending, but something is unfortunate there and that was such a bold choice on the part of the filmmakers and that ending makes this movie so mature and an instant classic, among other things.
The character development is really good. Hiccup is undoubtedly one of the very best animated protagonists in recent years and maybe of all time. He is such a different character with his flamboyant and clumsy behavior and weak physique and that is so refreshing. But he is also so complex and so wonderfully developed and grounded in reality. His conflict with his father is so phenomenal to follow and so dramatic, while the relationship between him and the dragon is simply fantastic and the heart of the movie. Toothless is such a great character as well and the mannerisms he displays along with the evident care towards Hiccup are so heartwarming. But he is still realistically portrayed and dangerous with his animal qualities intact which I appreciated a lot. I liked how the film emphasized the importance and beauty of human-animal bonding with many spectacular moments.
Stoick the Vast is the most realistic character of the bunch as he fits the time period perfectly. The father-son relationship is so wonderful to witness here and I liked how his character is so brave and tough, but is still caring. That is so truthful for men and especially those during those times. As for the supporting characters, they aren’t some of the best ever written, but are still solidly depicted and given their lack of screen time, they still manage to become memorable which is a great achievement. Gobber is fantastic and so inherently likable in his relationship with Hiccup and Stoick. And he is definitely the funniest character in the entire movie. Astrid I also really liked. She was annoying and one-note at first, but proved herself to be more than that later on and the love relationship between the two is sweet and wonderfully understated. And the other kids are all pretty good and sometimes quite funny.
The voice cast did a splendid job here. Jay Baruchel surprised me with a very good performance, but Gerard Butler is also phenomenal and Craig Ferguson and America Ferrera both did a splendid job. Everyone did great here.
How to Train Your Dragon has superb animation. It isn’t top-notch due to some natural inconsistencies, but it is mostly terrific with the aerial sequences being so spectacular and the character design being awesome. The characters aren’t too pretty and they are all very grounded with Hiccup being so realistic as well as Stoick being wonderfully animated. But the design of the dragons is really something. They for once look different and refreshing with fat and thick looks replacing the usual lean physique. Toothless in particular looks amazing and is both instantly recognizable and instantly adorable.
The movie is visually stunning. It is so well animated and shot with the flying sequences being just mesmerizing. Those are my favorite scenes after the ending as they are so emotionally moving, epic in scope and just overall satisfying and beautiful to watch. They are accompanied by the amazing score which is without any doubt the best in any DreamWorks movie. It is so epic, so dramatic and unforgettable with at times being perfectly moving and uplifting. This is the kind of flawless music that helps a movie a lot and makes it a classic. And I liked how they went with the fittingly old-fashioned Viking music to accompany its setting.
It is a deftly edited and paced movie with not a single rushed or wasted scene. It all flows magnificently and is always intriguing to follow. I adored the silent scenes between the boy and the dragon as those are so wonderfully subtle, classic in style and so mature and just timeless. And the moment when they bond and he touches Toothless for the first time is the moment that should go down into history how unforgettable and impeccable it is.
I liked how unpredictable it is and how the movie took its chances with sometimes violent and sad outcome. The tone is wonderfully handled with the action scenes being so well realized, the drama being so well crafted and the fantasy elements are all riveting with the qualities of the dragons all very well explored. But it has a great humor as well with a couple of truly funny moments and lines and it did made me laugh a couple of times, but did not get in the way of the story. It is smart and mature, but also wonderfully childlike and simplistic on surface. It explores the theme of animal-human bonding so well and also the prejudices and hatred of the unknown. It has a great message well put to use. But above all that, it is endlessly heartwarming and so emotional with its heart being in the right place.
It has simply fantastic world-building and a great attention to detail with the clothes, hair and dragons all beautifully animated and the characteristics of different dragons are well explored. And I love the fact that we get to meet all these different dragon breeds. That makes the movie look large-scale and epic. It is not only the company’s best movie to date, but also one of the best animated films period. It is that good and it will be a classic when enough time has passed, but is already a masterpiece. And it also can lead to one of the best franchises ever.
How to Train Your Dragon is an almost flawless film. The animation is mesmerizing, the characters are so well developed, the world-building is superb, the emotion is evident, the editing is deft and it has many memorable scenes with the flying sequences being so moving and the ending being bold and simply fantastic. It is a simplistic and sweet story that is executed in a sophisticated manner with great message and themes, it succeeds on every level imaginable and it is undoubtedly DreamWorks Animation’s best film to date and to me one of the finest animated films of all time. This is a timeless masterpiece that has both brain and heart and is a movie that may also lead to one of the best franchises ever made.
My Rating – 5
Interior & Exterior Stills from How To Train Your Dragon
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