(The Dreamworks-uary logo is shown, before showing clips from How to Train Your Dragon. Snippets of John Powell's score play in the background throughout)
Doug (vo): By all outward appearances, I should hate How to Train Your Dragon. This has so many things I can't stand in a movie: The geeky dweeb who becomes the hero, the prejudiced parent who will never listen, the misunderstanding that'll break them apart and just result in them moping and doping, the hiding the pet so that nobody sees him, a lean towards modern-day talk in a fantasy world. This is stuff I usually can't stand. But for some reason, here, it really, really works. There's just something about the way this story is told and presented and paced that just really, really gets it. It's almost like I was hearing the story for the first time, even though I've heard it a million times before. Which is funny, because the people who did this also directed Lilo & Stitch, another movie that's been done a million times but seemed very fresh and new when they put their spin on it. And this movie works very much the same.
Story[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): A young boy lives in the world of Vikings, who spend most of their time trying to fight off dragons. Why? Because they believe dragons are evil. And who can blame them? They constantly attack, breathe fire, and are just dangerous animals. But the boy starts to see things a little differently when he comes across a wounded dragon in the middle of a field. So the boy decides to study him. As he spends more and more time with him, he realizes that dragons are not inherently evil. They're like any other animal; as long as they can be understood, they can be trained to be peaceful. And he uses this advantage to fight off other dragons...in a sense. He doesn't really fight them, he actually finds non-violent ways to defend them off, which gets the attention of the village, and more importantly, his father, who always regarded him as a bit of a disappointment, but now finally sees something they can connect with. But, gee. Will the truth be revealed and will the father's prejudice get in the way to where he says he doesn't have a son and all that other stuff? Yes, but...it's actually done pretty good here.
Review[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): The only thing I can think of as to why it works here and not in other stories is that the pacing is just so good. In that, every single time something happens, you see how it affects the character. You see when the boy learns something that it'll sink in. You see him actually taking the time to figure stuff out with the dragon. Even his father, you can see sort of the turmoil he's going through with trying to love his son, live with his son, hate his son. He goes back and forth like a real human being would and not just a one-dimensional character. He's not just a bad guy, he's a human being who happens to have a prejudice, but it's a prejudice you can well understand. That doesn't mean it doesn't break his heart when he has to disown his son. And maybe that's what makes it stand out. Every emotion feels genuine. When the characters are happy, they feel genuinely happy. When they're jealous, they feel genuinely jealous. And when they're heartbroken, you really feel how heartbroken they are. And I think so much of that just comes from the fact that they take the time to let us know these people, and it's not rushed.
[Various clips focusing on Hiccup and Toothless flying in the sky are shown]
Doug (vo): The flying scenes are unbelievable. I mean, they are just beautiful to look at. When this movie came out, it was in 3D, and I still stand by this is the greatest-looking 3D movie I've ever seen, even better than Avatar. I saw it in IMAX, and it blew me away. Every time there's a flying scene, you felt like you were on this dragon and you were riding through the canyons. I don't know what they did, how they did it, but more movies need to do it. Or at the very least, re-release this movie so we can see it again in IMAX 3D, 'cause I know a lot of people who didn't see it that way and they should see it that way. But the great thing about the film is, even if you take that aspect out of it, it's still a good story and there's still good characters. It's one of the few movies that can have this combination of things I usually don't like and can somehow really pull it off. It can be funny, it can be harsh, and it can be very, very genuine.
[The villain of the movie, the Red Death dragon, is shown in several clips]
Doug (vo): The one problem I have with the film is when it's revealed exactly how the dragons work. Even to this day, I'm sort of confused how it all goes down. It's like there's a giant dragon and all the little dragons have to feed that giant dragon, so they're kind of slaves, but they can just fly off if they wanted. Couldn't they? Why did they have to return to this dragon? Why is that the reason they have to attack the people...? It's pretty confusing. But once again, they make up for that with just how creative and cool the dragons are, and how different each one is and how they function. Each one has their weakness, each one has their strength, each one even sort of has its own personality.
Final thought[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): Like I said before, a lot of time went into the details of this film. I think it's just a straight-up wonderful flick. If at any point you can see it in IMAX in 3D, definitely take advantage of it. But if not, it's still a great film regardless.
[A scene showing Toothless touching Hiccup's hand for the first time is shown]