How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

“I’m not listening to anything you have to say!”

“Then I won’t speak. Just let me show you.”

How to Train Your Dragon

There’s been a renaissance in animation over the last decade, thanks to technology developments but also – significantly – some versatile and creative directors. Films like Wall-E, Up, Wreck-It Ralph or How to Train Your Dragon aren’t just memorable for their colourful, imaginative worlds and bold character designs, they’re also characterised by exciting cinematography, daring to take chances in a field – blockbuster filmmaking – not known for ingenuity.

The best place to find non-verbal cinematic storytelling nowadays is animation, where despite a target audience of children, directors are happy to tell their stories without relying on excessive – or even any – dialogue. Think the powerfully moving montage that opens Up, or Wall-E’s first hour, which might as well be a silent film.

Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon isn’t quite as good as those Pixar films; but it was filled with scenes where the protagonist, Hiccup, spends time interacts with his dragon, Toothless: an effective emotional story told without dialogue. The film’s strengths lie in what it avoids – no excessive dialogue, no clunky attempts at humour, just good, old-fashioned storytelling with the cinematography to support it.

Rating: 175/200

4 thoughts on “How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

  1. “Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon isn’t quite as good as those Pixar films”

    LOL bye. How to Train Your Dragon rivals Pixar’s best films and sh*ts all over their worst, and its certainly better than Up or Wall-e, which, although both fantastic films, lost a majority of their steam after the first sequence and the first half, respectively. I would even go so far as to say that HTTYD deserved the Best Animated Feature in 2010’s Oscars over Toy Story 3. You can admit that a Dreamworks movie is better than Pixar movies, it’s not going to kill you.

    • Trolling tone aside, I actually watched How to Train Your Dragon because it received high praise from friends – specifically, that it deserved the Oscar over Toy Story 3. I don’t agree – TS3 was in my top 5 films of that year – but I don’t think it’s a ridiculous opinion either. Personally I’d rank Up, Wall-E and Toy Story 3 over HTTYD, put Monsters Inc on par, and I think it beats the rest (though I’d need to rewatch TS2).

      Up and Wall-E do have issues, certainly, but they’re more ambitious than HTTYD which is why I prefer them. HTTYD is certainly the most visually imaginative of the bunch (I do wish I’d seen it in 3D!) but it’s never trying to be more than a kid’s movie – the narrative is predictable because we’ve all seen the basic story dozens of times. That’s not necessarily a flaw – it’s telling a traditional story well, as I said above – but Up and Wall-E both strive for something more. Yes, Up never reaches the highs of its first five minutes again, but it provides an aching core of loss that propels its adventure story and lifts the whole film. Yeah, Wall-E’s last half hour or so is surprisingly clumsy, but the first hour is so beautiful and different that I can forgive some last act missteps.

      Personally, my preference for an ambitious but flawed film over a beautifully animated film with a straightforward narrative, but I don’t fault anyone for preferring the prettier, more “perfect” film that is HTTYD. I do have an issue with someone strawmanning me as a “Pixar is always better than Dreamworks” shill when I said no such thing, though.

  2. Pingback: The Lego Movie (2014) | ccpopculture

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