How To Train Your Dragon is one of those strange anomalies within the echelon of Dreamworks, as it remains one of few feature length animated films from the box office giant that is generally positively received by most people. Needless to say, I was expecting great things as a result of this fact.
Its plot follows the outline that you’d expect: a young man trains a dragon. Exactly what it says on the tin. Of course, there are other small facets to the story, such as the fact that the characters are all Vikings who pride themselves on being able to fight the dragons, and the idea that the main character’s Father is deeply disappointed that his son refuses to do so.
For a plot that is seemingly so simple and predictable, it’s actually still really cute. It’s difficult to articulate why this movie stands above a lot of other Dreamworks animations, but if I were to hazard a guess, it’s because there’s dragons. Put dragons in anything and it’ll be a success, right?
Rather upsettingly, I didn’t find Dragon as funny as most other animated films. Freshman Dreamworks animation Shrek, for instance, is renowned for being one of the funniest animations of all time, and this one doesn’t quite hold up to that standard. Why? There are just barely any jokes! There’s some real comedy heft within this cast, with the likes of Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig voicing, so why not use them?
Poor writing is sadly evident in other ways, too. The main character, Hiccup, proves to be possibly the most boring leading character in any animation I’ve ever encountered. There’s literally nothing interesting about the kid; he even looks average, with a small, skinny frame and pearly white skin. Even his haircut is boring – there are no distinct things about him whatsoever. I put both the comedy failures and the lack of interest in the main character down to poor script writing, but at least Toothless (the titular dragon in question) is excellent.
Where the script is Dragon‘s downfall, the animation is its upside. I could not fault a single second of it, and it stands side by side with any other animated film ten years since its release in terms of quality.
There is an obligatory “message” in here, maintaining the animated movie trope that all of them should have one. This time it was simple: appreciate differences, be kind to one another. A message that is important, and it’s necessary for young children to learn. That’s one box that the script ticks successfully, at least.
As you can probably tell by now, this wasn’t my favourite of all time. I’m still, as of yet, able to see why it receives such rave reviews. But it’s not offensive to the eye, and still something that will undoubtedly keep kids entertained. And remember: there’s dragons!
How To Train Your Dragon is available to stream on Netflix, Now TV and Sky Cinema in the UK.
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