I have to admit, my expectations were pretty low when I went to see How to Train Your Dragon. The trailers made the movie look like a mediocre animated movie at best—something akin to Monsters vs. Aliens. I expect a certain caliber of movie when I go to see something produced by DreamWorks as opposed to Pixar. I enjoyed the Shrek movies for their ability to poke fun at culture, a little bit like the golden years of the Simpsons. However, each successive Shrek movie diminished my faith that DreamWorks would pull itself out of the hole it seemed intent on digging. Madagascar delivered the coup de grace in 2005 when it oozed onto the movie screen.
Still, I was hearing some good things about How to Train Your Dragons. The critics were giving it good reviews—surprisingly good reviews. It was sitting in the green on metacritic, and even though the movie never achieved twitter buzz, people were talking about at—and they were saying good things. So I decided to see it, and in 3D to boot. I try not to be a 3D glutton. Unless a movie is filmed in 3D, I don’t see much point. I’ve heard people saying the Clash of the Titans was downright unpleasant as a result of the attempt to adapt it to 3D after the fact (this, in addition to any of the film’s other shortcomings).
Ok, so getting to the point. How to Train Your Dragon was awesome! A movie on par with some of my favorite pixar films. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the best animated movie of the year (for me). Toy Story isn’t really my thing (I played with Legos as a kid), so with Pixar out of the running, HTTYD is likely to be top dog…err, dragon.
The story is surprisingly original, and yet it plays to many of the best tropes of fantasy and storytelling. The world—the fragment we get to see in the movie—seems well thought out, not thrown together to accommodate the story. The dragons, while silly, are fun and unique, a strange combination of dog and cat in one. The movie had humor for kids as well as adults, and it was very good-spirited in nature (whereas some animated movies can sometimes border on malign).
Not to belabor the point: I think the movie is worth seeing, and I heartily recommend seeing it in 3D. The 3D gave depth to the world and the creatures populating it, and it made for some stunning cinematics in scenes that involved dragons flying. And if you’ve already seen the movie, well here’s a treat for you too. I was going to stat up all the types of dragons but lacked the time.
Oh, and if you’re curious about this monster format, you can see more of it in Bill’s ampersand article this month and last month, and you can look forward to more of it in the upcoming adventure, The Slaying Stone and my books Monster Manual 3 and Vor Rukoth. Okay, shameless plug done.