How To Train Your Dragon 2 hits cinemas in the UK on the 4th July 2014, so I only had under a month to catch up on the first film in this series. It was about time too, with countless recommendations from friends and great reviews from critics surely HTTYD would live up to the hype? Yes, yes it did.
Okay so let me set the scene for you, this animation includes Vikings, Dragons and the voice of McLovin – could this be the most awesome animation ever!? It is most definitely one of the best efforts I have seen, and certainly the best film to come out of DreamWorks Animation. Although this film features a storyline seen many times before (The Iron Giant, Tarzan) it presents it in a fresh and intriguing manner meaning that the usual lull that often occurs in animations about 3/4 of the way through doesn’t take place. The combination of interesting characters, great visuals and humour throughout make HTTYD a joy to watch. Lets talk about that cast, Jay Baruchel voices the main character, Hiccup. An inspired choice, as he has clear talent for this kind of role but isn’t a hugely well known actor so doesn’t detract from the character. What I mean by this is that his voice isn’t instantly recognisable so you are able to fully embed yourself in his storyline without distractions something that could be an issue with some other performances (Tom Hanks as Woody and Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, just a few examples). The rest of the cast are maybe more well known but they add quality to this film all in their own ways. Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig are only some of the other names featured in this movie, a star-studded cast no doubt but a really effective one too.
One of the best things about How To Train Your Dragon is it’s subject matter, the dragons! The designers of these dragons must have had a field day, as there are so many different designs on offer in this movie, all of which are pretty cool. None more so that Toothless the dragon that Hiccup ultimately develops a fantastic relationship with. Throughout the film we are treated to scenes of dragons flying, fighting and the dragon training sequences which combine humour and action so brilliantly. The film comes to its head with a finale not unlike a scene that you might find in the 2013 sci-fi epic Pacific Rim and certainly more exciting than the finale of this years Godzilla movie and yes HTTYD is an animated movie! At no point in this movie did I feel bored or question why I was watching it, not uncommon for me whilst watching animations. HTTYD of course features the stereotypical life lessons and journeys of growth for characters but it doesn’t feel anywhere as near as cheesy or forced as it usually would. Also a fantastic score is included that seamlessly includes itself accompanying scenes just wonderfully.
For me How To Train Your Dragon joins the ranks of my favourite animations including Wall-e and Wreck It Ralph. The only bad thing about this is the fact I now have an overwhelming desire to train a dragon however I think it’s a good thing for all of us that they are merely things of fairy tales.
BIGGEST FLAW – Similarities to previous animations (not really an issue though)
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – Creating a more mature feel for an animation but never losing its sense of fun
Rating – 10/10