How to Train Your Kittie
I feel a bit late to the party since AZM Ally’s Tyler Anderson and Mikey D have both turned in their reviews of Dreamwork’s latest flick, How to Train Your Dragon. But I figured it deserves more attention. For some reason, people just aren’t going to the theater to see this charming film. So if another review will finally convince you to get your ass to the theater, it will be done!
The Northern island town of Berk is a dreary, desolate, bleak place where none but the heartiest of Viking can survive. Indeed, the residents of Berk must be extra durable for their town is regularly attacked by hoards of dragons. Big ones. Small ones. Some as big as your head. The town is defended by the larger than life Stoik the Vast, voiced by Gerard Butler. He’s so badass that he fights dragons with his bare hands. He is a Viking’s Viking which is terribly unfortunate for scrawny little Hiccup, Stoik’s son, voiced by Jay Baruchel who seems to be everywhere these days.
Whereas even the skinny girls his age are sword wielding, dragon fighting jocks, Hiccup is an inventive and somewhat clumsy nerd. He pines after the love of his life, Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera (sorry about your show getting canceled. Yes, I fucking watched Ugly Betty. However, that dream episode was certainly symptomatic of shark jumping). But unlike most teen girls in your typical romantic comedy, Astrid is far from impressed with Hiccup’s nerdy awkwardness.
Hiccup has a plan. He’s invented a weapon that might be able to take out the dreaded Night Fury, a dragon feared for its speed and deadly accuracy. In fact, it’s so fast no one has actually ever seen one. Hiccup is sure his weapon will work but none of the muscle bound, axe wielding Vikings are interested. So he ventures out on his own to see if he can bag his first dragon. As you might imagine, he comes across a fearsome Night Fury. And as you might guess, the weapon knocks the elusive dragon out of the air. But when Hiccup finally comes across the downed beast to deliver the kill blow, he can’t bring himself to do it. And so begins an awkward friendship between Hiccup and the Night Fury whom he names Toothless.
The story is a familiar one, to be sure. But the fantastical setting, the whimsical and varied dragons, the expressive character designs, it all breathes new life into the nerd-coming-of-age genre.
The voice acting is quite good. My favorite, by far, is Gerard Butler as Stoik. As expected, he great as a larger-than-life boisterous Viking he-man. But he’s also quite good in those awkward quiet moments between Stoik and Hiccup. He demonstrates a lot of range that I wish he was able to show more in his live action roles.
All of this is very nice. And visuals are amazing in their own right. But if you couldn’t tell from the fanart I whipped up above, my absolute favorite part of this movie is the Night Fury, Toothless. He’s a real show stopper. I’m going to have to watch this movie again because whenever Toothless was on screen, I tuned out everyone else. He moves just like a cat. Well, a giant cat with big ass wings who flies like a stunt plane. But a cat nonetheless. His mannerisms were totally catlike. He totally reminded Audrey and me of our own cat who happens to be black and has big cat eyes. In fact, ever since I saw the movie I’ve been referring to our cat as a little baby dragon. Many of the other dragons have catlike mannerisms in the way they play and the way they snuggle up to hiccup. I guess there are some dog mannerisms in there, but since I’m a cat owner, I only noticed the catness.
How to Train Your Dragon is an absolutely wonderful film and one of my favorite Dreamworks pictures since Kung Fu Panda. It’s a perfect date movie, a perfect dragon lover movie, a perfect kick ass Vikings doing kick ass Viking stuff. Now I know Kick Ass opens this weekend and most of us geeks are totally looking forward to seeing Hit Girl kick the shit out of stuff. But Dragon is still in theaters and needs your support. It should have opened bigger than it did and if we want more Dreamworks films of this caliber, we need to support them. Pixar needs some decent competition and I think Dreamworks is certainly getting there.