Title: How to Train Your Dragon
Length: 98 minutes
Director: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Writer: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders, based on the novel by Cressida Cowell
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera
Music: John Powell
Oscars: nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Score
Synopsis: a young viking who’s not good at fighting lives in a village frequently raided by dragons
How I saw it: in the theater, yesterday
Story: Good. It has its fair share of cliches, but it’s engaging and pretty original overall.
Characters: Good. Wait, what? Good characters in a DreamWorks cartoon? What’s going on here?
Cinematography: Good. Some sequences are amazing, others not so much.
Special effects/design: Indifferent. Technically, it’s great. Creatively, it’s an unfortunate victim of the Every Cartoon Has to Be CG plague. There are some “2D” drawings in the closing credits which are absolutely delightful. I gaped and pointed and said, “I want to see that movie!”
Acting: Indifferent. Good acting from the animators, bad from the voice actors. And what’s with the Scottish accents?
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good). Don’t be fooled by the bad marketing and horrible title (like I was). This is a sincere adventure story, entertaining from beginning to end. There are no pop-culture references. There is no crude humor. The voice actors (while they might not have been the best choices) were clearly chosen for their voices, not box office draw. It almost seems like DreamWorks is coming to their senses and trying to do what Pixar does – tell a good story with strong characters. But, the thing is, this isn’t really “a DreamWorks Film” – because, come on, that doesn’t even mean anything; they’re just a f***ing movie studio. What this movie secretly is is the long-awaited (or would have been long-awaited in a perfect world) second film from the writing/directing team that made Lilo & Stitch. Remember that movie? You know, the best animated feature from the last 30 years that wasn’t made by Pixar or Miyazaki? You’d kind of expect that to be a selling point, wouldn’t you? Rather than the fact that it was paid for by the same people who paid for Shrek? I guess not. I didn’t find out about it until looking at the IMDb just now, but if They had made it known, I might not have assumed this movie was crap.
Objective Rating: 2.7/4 (Good).