The Dreamworks movie How to Train Your Dragon just had its network TV premiere on FX, which is the first time I’ve seen it. I have caught the sequel TV series, which has the awkward although possibly AnneMcCaffrey-inspired title Dragons: Riders of Berk, and been underwhelmed by it; I found it okay but not very engaging. So I was curious to see how similar or different the movie was, but my expectations weren’t very high.
But it turned out to be pretty amazing. Well, it has a weak start — a big exposition dump with the hero narrating the backstory to the audience is kind of awkward. But the more I watched, the better it got. The story was pretty rich, with some good character dynamics and dilemmas, mainly between lead character Hiccup and his father the chief. There was some very good, subtle character animation, good music, a lot of quality stuff — and Jay Baruchel’s vocal performance as Hiccup was less annoying than it is on the TV series, because he had more subtle and multidimensional material to work with. And I really like the theme of the film — not only that there’s a better way to solve problems than violence and hate, but that intelligence, curiosity, and imagination are more powerful than brute force. But especially, the movie did an amazing job capturing the joy of flight. There were some moments of real visual grandeur and awe in the flying sequences, and I’m still a little stunned and breathless, even a bit misty-eyed as I think back on them. Really, really well done.
I think I’ll probably give the show another chance now. Maybe having a better sense of the characters and background will help. I still don’t think it will come anywhere close to living up to the movie, though.