Monday, March 29, 2010

Stitch-Dargon!

This past weekend me and a couple of my friends went out to go see Dreamwork's How to Train Your Dragon as one of Rachel's students was working at the theater that night and offered us free comestibles. That was probably the only reason that we went to go see the movie- the previews that I had seen were not terribly enticing, so we thought it would simply be a coming of age story told in a kid friendly manner.

Well, we were kind of right. First of all, just to get it out there, this movie is good. Really good. The animations are fantastic, the character choices lean towards the generic but still get their own spin, and the dragons are really well done.

The story is that this village of Vikings (who all mysteriously have Scottish accents) is constantly under attack by dragons that steal their sheep and burn their houses. Our hero, Hiccup (yes, that really is his name), is not your typical Viking. He is scrawny, not terribly good with weapons, and has been relegated to serving in the foundry as his "help" on the front lines tends to cause more harm than good.

Luck is with our hero when he manages to ensnare the most fearsome dragon of all, a Night Fury*, with an invention that he built. Of course no one believes him, but he is determined to prove them wrong and find the dragon that he snared.

Without spoiling too much, the Night Fury is the second lead in the movie. Rachel likened him to "a dragon version of Stitch [from Lilo and Stitch]- Stitch-Dargon!" And, really, that's what he is. Think of the grace of a cat crossed with the loyalty of a dog crossed with Stitch and bound up into a sleek black ball of wonderment, supersonic flight and destructive mini-nuke breath. His interactions with Hiccup are definitely the highlight of the movie- their getting to know you sequence is completely adorable, hilarious and surprisingly well thought out. And the level of expression that he can get out of his very Stitch-esque face is amazing. And he's CUTE! Yet bad-ass enough at the same time to lend credence to his rep as "born of lightning and swift death." To quote Rachel again "I want one!" So do I, Rachel, so do I.

The flight scenes are really well done and the progression from hunter and hunted to BFF is done nicely. Hiccup definitely doesn't get it right away, and even when he takes to the sky on the dragon's back there are setbacks. It's a bit refreshing to see a kiddie movie where character progression isn't necessarily so cut and dried. There is also the progression of his relationship with his father, who is chief of their village. There are some pretty cute moments between the two that are animated to great effect.

The flight sequences are really well done and I can imagine that in 3D they'd be even more awesome. All of the action sequences have great effects that match the aesthetics of the movie really well. Dragons crackle with flame all over their bodies, the little bulldog/beetle dragons zip around with a bemused grin on their faces, and others light up the sky with huge rivers of well rendered flame.

All in all, a very fun movie and one that I would definitely go and see again. And you should too!

*They have a Pokemon or Harry Potter-esque delineation of different kinds of dragons, each with a different weak spot, breath attack and fighting style. Gotta slay (or tame) 'em all!

Until next time...

"A village fire-company does not often get a chance to show off, and so when it does get a chance it makes the most of it. Such citizens of that village as were of a thoughtful and judicious temperament did not insure against fire; they insured gainst the fire-company."


- Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain

1 comment:

Ken said...

Good review. I'm looking forward to seeing that movie now. Your proper English speaking mother would not approve of your use of "me and my friends" in the first sentence and would much prefer to see "I and my friends", as you know grammatical correctness is next to godliness".
Dad