Quick Hit – A visually breathtaking Dreamworks film that brings you in with animation, but keeps you with heart.
When I first heard of this movie, I was a little skeptical. I think the last time I had watched a movie that was slightly “dragon” related in a family friendly way was 2007’s The Water Horse, which had left me feeling strangely empty despite all its merits as a film. Pushing heavily into this was the fact that I either really love Dreamworks films, or really don’t, and the fact that they somehow manage to make sequels for years past their films’ prime, I wasn’t sold on Jay Baruchel as a Viking boy – this was also around the time that She’s Out of My League came out.
However, from the opening scenes, it’s very clear that the film was going to rely on its visuals and allow the animation to be the true star of the story. While that’s true, it’s also really wrong, because the dragons and the inner relationships inside the story almost (not quite) steal the show from the look of things. I’m not going to spoil everything, because there are some fun, if predictable turns to Dragon, but I want to speak mainly about the relationship between a boy and his father.
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) desperately wants to please his father, even if it means becoming something that he doesn’t want to really be. His father (Gerard Butler) doesn’t really know how to treat a child – he has one volume, one speed, and one goal – be loud, be fast, and keep his little town alive. But you can tell that the love is abundant between the two, and it’s what makes everything continue to move forward even when the story seems a bit cheesy. I am often times a bit critical of movies for not featuring enough of women that have something to do in a film. However, this is a case where the focus on a father-son relationship was done really well, without any maternal influence. It may be a bit cliché, but I can't help but enjoy those moments.
This is coupled with amazingly voice pairings to characters. Along with Baruchel and Butler, this film also features Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and T.J. Miller. All of them are strangely matched to their character personalities, and so whoever did the casting was excellent (upon research it was Leslee Feldman). There is a subtle, eye-winking humor that takes place throughout the entire film. It allows both adults and children to slowly sink into the world, feeling more and more that dragons are possible.
Speaking of dragons, there is enough here for those that like mythology to be happy. There are subtle winks in the dragons design to different myths of dragons throughout history. Along with that, the design of Toothless, the dragon that Hiccup ultimately befriends, is designed very much with children in mind, so that even his scariest moments seem a bit tame. Along with this, there is a definitive “Stitch” like quality to him – probably because there were crew in common with Disney’s underrated Lilo and Stitch. I really liked the animation of the fights, but what really was amazing were the flights that took place. This movie was originally in 3D, and I’ve only heard good things about it – I can only imagine the spatial explosion that would allow the dragon flights to be seen in 3D.
Overall, a very good film with loveable characters. Who can’t see themselves in Hiccup? I’m going to give this one an “A”.
For more on this film, check out its IMDB page.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"