Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movie Review - How to Train Your Dragon

by Alex Popp

In "How to Train your Dragon," a teenager from an island in viking times is dying to be a dragon killer like the other island residents. But he shoots down an attacking dragon known as the Night Fury that everyone hardly knows anything about. But as he sets out to kill the dragon he shot and impress his father, he gets a change in heart, but is still forced to be trained to kill dragons. In his spare time he tames the black dragon and learns to ride it.

This animated film really doesn't deserve the ratings its been getting on the internet. Although there are parts that are cute and funny, it's still a bit hard to enjoy as it's painfully predictable. Although there isn't anything particularly wrong with it, the plot is basically where "The Little Mermaid" meets "Ratatouille" in the viking world.

Rated PG for sequences of intense action that may scare young kids.

Two stars (out of four) for "How to Train your Dragon."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


I have to watch the film in order to counter this review. But from what I've heard, a lot of people like it (and it did very well in theaters, having "legs" where it kept going where other films would lose steam). I think the reason is because it's simply fun and enjoyable, although I should see for myself.

This film is also notable because the director Chris Sanders, is a Disney animation veteran in the 90s, and he wrote and directed Lilo & Stitch (playing the voice of Stitch). He followed it up with American Dog (renamed to Bolt), but Lassetter cut up the movie so much (Lassetter called it too quirky for its own good) that Chris bolted from Disney.

Chris Sanders then went to DreamWorks, and this was his first film (I think he actually started working on a caveman film, Crood, but he switched over to this one as soon as they got the rights to the book and were probably looking internally for the right director. The other film, Crood, will probably be out next year. I think Chris just pressed pause on that one and is finishing it up now.

In a year of Shrek 4, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind, Despicable Me, Legend of the Guardians (Owls), and Tangled, I think it's anyone's game for the Academy Award. The Academy doesn't really like sequels, and I see Megamind as too much of a sellout and not endearing enough (and it didn't fair nearly as well as the similar but better Despicable Me), which means it's down to How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Legend of the Guardians, and Tangled. Guardians has the fact that Happy Feet (from the same studio) won the award previously, but it wasn't nearly as successful as Happy Feet. Likewise, Tangled was a step in the right direction for Disney, but the lack of character development (other than Rapunzel) and the lack of Disney magic and spectacular songs/numbers, means it might not win. So my money is on either How to Train Your Dragon or Despicable Me. I can't decide right now. We'll see.

- The Emperor

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