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Hiccup is a Viking lad
Upon the isle of Berk.
He cannot seem to please his dad
With his inventive work.
His father Stoick only cares
For hunting dragon pests,
But Hiccup is the worst of heirs,
As everyone attests.
He shoots a dragon from the sky,
A Night Fury, the worst,
But when he tries to watch it die,
His feelings are reversed.
He lets it live; it follows suit,
And cautious friendship grows.
He names the beast Toothless to boot,
And learns what no one knows.
Since half the dragon’s tail was torn,
It cannot fly away,
But Hiccup crafts prosthetics worn
Around its tail each day.
As he is trained with fellow teens
To fight each flying creature,
Astride his pet Hiccup careens,
With practice as his teacher.
With inside knowledge of the brutes,
He handles them with skill
And wows his dad and the recruits
And earns the right to kill.
A girl named Astrid follows him
And threatens to reveal,
But Toothless scares her on a whim
Yet proves he has appeal.
They find the hidden dragon nest,
Ruled by a giant beast,
And Hiccup sees they act the pest
Or else become its feast.
So Hiccup tries to prove his point
In front of his whole town,
But Hiccup’s efforts disappoint,
And Toothless is brought down.
His father stubbornly insists
To find the dragon nest,
And Toothless grudgingly assists
With Stoick’s killing quest.
Since Hiccup knows they cannot fight
That dragon monster thing,
He and his Viking friends take flight
On dragons they’re keeping.
The monstrous dragon is released,
And Stoick saves Toothless.
They all engage the mammoth beast,
And Hiccup’s acts impress.
He taunts the beast, astride his friend,
And brings it down with flair,
But very nearly meets his end
If not for Toothless there.
Though injured, Hiccup quickly mends,
And witnesses with glee
Dragons and Vikings can be friends
And live in harmony.

After the Madagascar movies, I began to not expect much from DreamWorks. Their focus on parody made them pale in comparison to the originality of Pixar, but How to Train Your Dragon was a welcome surprise. Boasting a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s awesome in both concept and execution. Based off of Cressida Cowell’s book series, the film combines rowdy Scottish-accented Vikings with various species of the legendary flying reptiles to create something exciting, touching, and just plain cool.

Jay Baruchel brings a geeky likability to Hiccup, and Gerard Butler deepens his voice and accent to give heft to Stoick the Vast. Other roles are filled decently by America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, etc. The character I especially admire is Toothless, the Night Fury. I love how his behavior is often cat-like, and his scenes of flight are so exhilarating and beautiful that I wish I had one of my own.

As far as the story, there are some clichés, such as the overbearing, disappointed parent who doesn’t understand the more open-minded child (sounds like The Little Mermaid). The various teen stereotypes aren’t all that memorable, but their interactions in the entertaining training scenes are. There’s even the familiar he’s-dead-no-wait-never-mind cliché, though unlike other movies, Hiccup doesn’t escape completely unscathed, giving the loss more weight. Even with its action-oriented story, the film also extols inventiveness and the value of reading and, yes, open-mindedness.

John Powell’s fantastic Celtic-influenced score heightens the excitement and the fun; it’s probably my favorite score of all of DreamWorks’ animated films. My VC doesn’t much care for the film, considering the dragons to appear too cartoonish, but I think How to Train Your Dragon is DreamWorks Animation’s best film in years. I hope to see the sequel soon.

Best line: (Gobber, to Hiccup about his father) “Now, you’re thinkin’ about this all wrong. It’s not so much what you look like, it’s what’s inside that he can’t stand.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 9
Originality: 6
Watchability: 8
TOTAL: 45 out of 60

Next: #174 – Mulan

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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