How to Train Your Dragon
Told in the narrative perspective of Hiccup, it shares the story of one gawky but inventive boy's journey to discovering the real world of dragons, and paves the way for a different mindset of thinking. Hiccup is an awkward boy who also turns out to be the son of Stoick, the leader of Berk. He's known to be clumsy and unreliable when it comes to catching dragons. He's not physically strong as the rest of the kids, and have relied on his devices and tricks to do jobs he himself cannot accomplish. When one of his gadgets managed to catch a infamous dragon, he was ecstatic to prove himself worthy to be a Viking, until he meets the actual dragon. Instead, he starts to care for the dragon, the two forging a bond of friendship.
The animated film factors a great story about how one person can inevitably change the thinking of the many, and through his discovery, can show that there is a path to peace between two species who just go and kill each other. It also taught Hiccup what it means to be a Viking - to protect their people, but to extend that protection to others in need as well. Besides that, we get to see the bond between Hiccup and Toothless, from their rocky start, down to their fun and later on, heroic adventures. It's a simple story, but there's a lot of heart.
Animators really can't get their scenes wrong, after all, they are in control of what they produce - from the characters, down to the setting and those little details. Some of these have weaved wonderful animated films that capture the essence of the story, but it's rare that we get presented with a cinematic moment. The scene where Toothless dives in to save Hiccup? It was just done beautifully that, in context, captures that strong bond the two had before they get engulfed in flames.
Final Word: It's a fantastic film with a lot of heart, and deserves a top spot on the greatest animated films of all time.
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Chris Sanders & Dane DuBlois
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The film also introduces us to a new character, and a new villain, Valka, who was Hiccup's mother, and Drago respectively. Valka paves the way for Hiccup to understand where he gets his personality from, and at the same time, to learn and understand who he was as a person and as the potential leader of Berk. Drago was also someone who utilized Hiccup's beliefs when it comes to dragons, however he uses their capabilities for helm more power, instead of creating lasting and peaceful relations between mankind and dragons. When something went awry, it was up to Hiccup to step up to the plate to defend dragons and the citizens of Berk.
While it doesn't boast the same heart as its predecessor, it can be said that the sequel can be treated as a mature version of the former film. It introduces Hiccup to another world where he is not only responsible for himself, but for many others as well. Just because he knew his calling when he was younger doesn't mean that he can run away from his other responsibilities, nor should he stunt his growth. Meeting his mother has just allowed him to understand his different way of thinking, but it doesn't hinder his development as a person. When the tragic scene occurred between him and Hiccup, that scene was crucial to their relationship, but was not dwelled on for a long time. The important part of the film was that Hiccup must learn how to resume responsibility, even if the relationship between him and Hiccup suffered a tremendous stride.
It was a great film in its own merit; the story grew up with its characters, and not only did it boast more of the dragon/viking world, it kept the elements that made the first movie worked. The finale could have used a bit of smoothing over, and the greatest fight scenes could have been placed there, but they've used most of the climactic material at the build up.
Final Word: A grown up story still filled with the sense of adventure, wonder and danger.
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
Director: Dane DeBlois