How to Train Your Dragon directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders:
From the people who have brought us “Shrek”, “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” comes DreamWorks latest animated feature and it is a tale of Vikings and dragons. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Well, while there are some humourous and exciting flying/action sequences what really was at the heart of the film was the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father and trying to figure out his path in life. Basically a coming-of-age film. Meaning it was more touching than I thought it would be. I thought I was there primarily to laugh, but found myself genuinely moved on several occasions. At several points in the film I had to admit to having some water in my eyes. If you catch my drift.
Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, “How to Train Your Dragon” is the story of Hiccup (voiced by Montrealer Jay Baruchel), a teenage Viking, who has always dreamed of being a great dragon slayer like his father, Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler). Things don’t work out that way for Hiccup and he doesn’t really fit in with the rest of his village. In order to keep his clumsy son safe his father keeps Hiccup working with the village’s one armed, one legged weapon maker (voiced by Craig Ferguson). This doesn’t make Hiccup very happy. Or popular.During one particular dragon attack, Hiccup manages to slip out and using a weapon believes he has struck the most elusive type of dragon, the Night Fury. Before he can go investigate he is dragged back to the village by his father, who doesn’t believe a word he has said. The next day he is able to sneak out of the village again and discovers an injured dragon downed with his weapon. Realizing this is his chance to gain some respect and notoriety in the village, Hiccup tries to kill the helpless dragon, but finds that he cannot.
After some trepidation and leeriness on the part of the dragon the two begin to trust one another and Hiccup even names the dragon Toothless. Hiccup realizes the dragon cannot fly because of the damage to one of its rear rudders. Being an inventor of sorts, Hiccup is able to fashion a device in order to replace it. This allows boy and dragon to fly together.
All this experience, which he keeps secret from everyone, allows Hiccup to have the upperhand on all the other kids in dragon slaying class and gives him insight into the fact that dragons are not the killing machines that every other Viking thinks they are. They only slay things to bring back to the giant dragon in their nest. The same nest that his father is searching for to destroy. You know there is going to be some conflict down the road.
This is a film that is great for the entire family (except for the most sensitive of types) no matter the age. While it is a crowd pleaser, it is not your usual animated fair with its character development and emotional complexity. This is a smart film filled with plenty of imagination. At certain points when the Vikings were spewing their stuff about the dragons, which they had little to no real information about, you had to wonder if it was alluding to what governments in the so-called developed countries today are saying about Arab/Muslim societies. The film really hits home that it is silly to fear what you don’t know.Don’t go into this thinking that the animation will be as beautiful as something coming out of the Pixar stable as you’ll only disappointed yourself. Though I don’t want to make it seem like the animation is subpar as it is a film that really focuses on the little things visually. Pay attention to the shadowing, the flicker of flame and the hair on the characters arms to understand what I am getting at. Also there are a variety of dragon species that are wonderfully drawn. Each one looks completely different and wonderful.How to Train Your Dragon 2 directed by Dean DeBlois:
When you have enjoyed a film and then you hear that a sequel will be made it makes you cringe a little. The cringe is as a result of having suffered through many a poorly executed sequel and having it sour a little your view of the entire film series. While How to Train Your Dragon was not a ground shaker it did have its heart in the right place and was as a result an enjoyable watch. I took in Dean DeBlois’ (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon), a Canadian which made my hope that this was a good film double, film with my fingers crossed.
Five years have passed since Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel – Million Dollar Baby, This is the End) managed to bring peace between Vikings and dragons on the island of Berk. So much so that each Viking there now has a dragon to ride. Times are good in Berk so they spend a lot of their time taking part in dragon races. Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, End of Watch), Snotlout (voiced by Jonah Hill – Moneyball, The Wolf of Wall Street) and the rest of the young Vikings engage in the races.
Hiccup spends his time creating a map of the world. This irritates his father Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler – 300, P.S. I Love You), who wants Hiccup to assume the leadership of Berk from him. Hiccup is not interested in this type of life, but doesn’t know how to tell his dad. While exploring the world aboard his beloved dragon Toothless Hiccup stumbles upon a dragon trapping outfit led by Eret (voiced by Kit Harington – from television’s Game of Thrones). Eret tells Hiccup and Astrid that he is capturing dragons to supply Drago (voiced by Djimon Hounsou – Gladiator, Blood Diamond), who is amassing a dragon army.
While trying to locate Drago in order to talk him out of his dastardly plan Hiccup stumbles upon the icy world of the mysterious and feared Dragon Rider (voiced by Cate Blanchett – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Blue Jasmine). It turns out that the Dragon Rider is someone from his past and is actually a protector of dragons. Together with his new ally Hiccup will try to talk Drago out of his plan without violence occurring. In this quest Hiccup is going to set out on the road that will lead to his discovering his lot in life.
My fingers uncrossed very early on. It did not take long for me to relax and realize that the second film in the series was just as good as the first. And maybe even a little better. This is what animated family films should be about. It is filled with feel good moments, action, suspense, laughs, and plenty of emotion. All this is made possible by the strong script co-written by DeBlois and Cressida Cowell. It is simple, but not dumb. It is emotional, but not sappy. It involves plenty of lessons for young viewers, but is not preachy. In other words, it has a solid base.
That base is well supported by the voice talent in the film. Besides the lead Baruchel, there is Ferrera, Blanchett, Butler, Hill, Hounsou (who possesses such a perfect “villain” voice that I wonder why he hasn’t been asked to do this before), Harington, Craig Ferguson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, and T.J. Miller. All use their voices to convey the emotions of the story and flesh out their characters making them realistic.
What I really have to give props to the people behind the film for is the fact that they do not shy away from bringing tough stuff to the screen. Just because it is an animated film doesn’t mean it has to be aimed solely at the under 6 age group. Older kids enjoy animated films and they should be made for them as well. DeBlois does not shy away from dark moments in How to Train Your Dragon 2. It is definitely scarier than the first in sections. This is definitely a more mature film than the first.
Finally the animation is great. It is crisp, clear and colourful.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World directed by Dean DeBlois:
Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is now the leader of his village, Berk. Chief Hiccup. The Viking village exists peacefully. Humans and dragons co-existing. Things begin to change after Toothless discovers love. He falls for a female dragon dubbed Light Fury by Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera). Astrid is involved because she would like to move into the love zone from the friend zone with Hiccup.
Love and utopia is disrupted by a villainous character named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham). Being anti-dragon he wants to halt all communication or contact between humans and dragons. This leads to the dragons hiding out in a newly discovered place called Hidden World. For safety, there they will stay until Grimmel and his forces are defeated. Both Hiccup and Toothless are forced into making tough decisions during the battle waged.
Sad that this is the finale. Third and final film in the How to Train Your Dragon animated film series. It has been a good ride. Not as bumpy as being on the back of a dragon, I would presume. That being said everything with the the dragons is fantastic. The way they look and the score. All of the animation looks beautiful. Those two elements, animation and music, come together in a spectacular way especially in regards to the love story between Toothless and Light Fury. Both animation and music, which most don’t think about or notice, accentuate and compliment the story in their own way.
Shows how much care was taken in the making of the movie by Canadian screenwriter/director Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon 2, Lilo & Stitch). DeBlois has been the driving force behind the entire film series and throughout it is obvious he has been highly invested in making a “different” kind of animated film. Oh, it is fun and silly at times like many animated films, but there is a heart and some social commentary to grasp onto. A film series for all ages. Here he has focused on the character development of Hiccup and Toothless – a human and a dragon. Both are dealt with with integrity and intelligence. This brings a maturity to the proceedings of a level that was not there prior. Plenty of personal growth is part of the wrapping up of the Hiccup and Toothless story. Many of the viewers of this film series will feel like they have grown up alongside the human and dragon.
Emotion runs high here. You will be moved throughout. During the last 10 minutes there will be plenty of tears shed by most who watch it. There is a slightly different tone to this film in that it is quite dark. Probably due to the personal and social themes which form the core of the story. Compassion, self-doubt, the true nature of sacrifice, and friendship all drive the story forward. Then you get a view towards subjects like disabilities being looked at as strengths and how true great leaders (pay attention, Mr. Trump!!) always look out for all under them with special attention paid to the weakest of the lot. Lessons which adults and kids alike need to see and think about.
A fitting end to an animated film trilogy which has entertained and moved people of all ages. Dreamworks should be applauded for bringing to the big screen a timeless series which is filled with emotion and entertainment.
-Dawn of the Dragon Racers
-Fishlegs’ Dragon Stats
-Drago’s War Machines
-Berk’s Dragon World
-Hiccup’s Inventions in Flight
-Where No One Goes: The Making of How To Train Your Dragon 2
- Frozen Episode of DreamWorks’ Dragons: Defenders of Berk
- Book of Dragons
- The Ultimate Book of Dragons
- The Animators’ Corner
- Trivia Track
- Viking-Sized Cast
- How to Draw a Dragon
- The Story Behind the Story
- The Technical Artistry of Dragon
- Gobbler’s Training Secrets
- Filmmakers’ Commentar
- Alternate Opening with Intro by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
-Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
-How to Voice Your Viking
-Creating an Epic Dragon Tale
-How I Learned from Dragons
-Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome
-The Dragon Sheep Chronicles
-A Deck of Dragons
-Growing Up with Dragons
-The Evolving Character Design of Dragons
-Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds
-Welcome to New Berk