Thursday, March 25, 2010

How To Train Your . . .

It's the day after How to Train Your Dragon was realised, and is also when I went to see it at the cinema.

I didn't sleep much last night mainly because my mind was still racing with images from the film, moments imprinted in my mind that left me quite impressed, inspired to make something beautiful as it. I'm listening to the soundtrack now. I'm typing a review.
I'm a little bit obsessed.

But let me backtrack.

Apart from the obvious elements in the film such as colours, lighting and backgrounds etc, all of which were very delicious to the eye (I particularly love the part when Hiccups face is blown with hot air as he gazes longingly at Astrid), it was the acting and character interaction I felt which really made the film.

The difficult relationship between Hiccup and his father, Stoic, immediately took my interest. Hiccup, trying to gain the respect of his father, though not knowing where to draw the line. Stoic, trying to maintain the balance of tribe leader and father figure towards his son. It's complicated, even more so without the presence of a mother figure, whom Hiccup's mentor and Stoic's friend, Gobber, I thought replaced the role of emotional translator quite well.
Also, he comes with accessories, which I thought was cool.

Then there's the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless. The transition between natural enemies to friends was pulled off nicely, not too rushed or too drawn out. Being constantly reminded that Toothless was indeed a wild animal also kept the balance between confidence and uncertainty for me as a viewer. For example, after Hiccup touches Toothless's snout, he snarls and quickly backs away even after it seems trust was solid.

Skipping ahead of time, after the 'great battle', Dreamworks did something that restored my respect for them after allowing Shrek and his spouse to reproduce. Recovering from a few lumps in my throat when Hiccup had been engulfed in flame, and the heartfelt scene with Stoic to follow, you discover that Hiccup, after having recovered, is not perfectly fine at all. They didn't wash over the inconveniences of reality like a Disney janitor, but showed that Hiccup had payed a price. The relationship between him and Toothless is strengthened further in this last scene. The boy needs the dragons help to walk; the dragon needs the boys help to fly.

Again, another lump in the throat.

I'm going to cut it short here because I've just realised I'm beginning to ramble. If I have any criticism for the film it's that Hiccup and Astrids relationship felt a little rushed, though given the time frame I suppose they couldn't have drawn it out for much longer anyway.

Also, 3D was not necessary.

Can't wait to see it next week on the big Imax screen.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in Paris in mid 2009 and this film was all 'top secret', the DreamWorks recruiter who was at Gobelins scouting talent gave a talk about what she looked for in student work. Her main theme was how characters interact. To quote Tim, "it was the acting and character interaction I felt which really made the film". I wholeheartedly agree.

    The scene where Hiccup and the dragon are starting to communicate is animation GOLD! It is non verbal gestural communication and it is totally understandable (I wonder if James Baxter had a hand in it?). I found that it harked strongly to the scenes in the "Iron Giant" (Warner Bros) where Hogarth makes initial communication attempts with the Giant. Just the way the dragon sits and the Giant sits is so similar, the staging is so similar.

    Watch "The Iron Giant" before we go to see Dragons on Thursday, you'll see what I mean. My Viking senses are tingling that they may be scenes we will be studying.

    Nice review Tim. You might have to put a *spoilers* note at the top.

    I look forward to seeing the film on our field trip on Thursday.