Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Movie Review: How to Tame Your Dragon

How to Tame Your Dragon


Hiccup and Toothless
How to Train Your Dragon (also released by the name How to Train Your Dragon 3D) a computer-animated fantasy film by DreamWorks Animation is loosely based on the 2003 book of the same title. The film stars the voice talents of Jay Baruchel - Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, Gerard Butler - Stoick the Vast , Craig Ferguson - Gobber the Belch, America Ferrera - Astrid Hofferson, Jonah Hill - Snotlout, T.J. Miller - Tuffnut Thorston, Kristen Wiig - Ruffnut Thorston fraternal boy and girl twins, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Fishlegs Ingerman.  David Tennant  plays Spitelout: a Viking who is not named in the film, he appears to be Stoick's Second-in-Command, and bears a striking resemblance to Snotlout

The plot is simple.  In a mythical Viking village, a scrawny kid, Hiccup, surrounded by barrel chested and overly muscled men, seeks to take his place alongside everyone as a dragon killer.  Instead his awkward antics leads him to capture, befriend and tame a dragon.  Through this friendship he uncovers the true secret of the nuisance dragons, which allows him to save the entire village.

A quick word on voice casting.  The entire village are all stupid Scottish sounding voice actors.  The leading man, Hiccup and the leading lady  Astrid, both have regular, American accents, or lack thereof.  When listening to the other cast you have full immersion into the story.  When listening to Hiccup, you are brought jarringly back to your seat sitting in sticky floor Cineplex 6.  His, is a voice, I would never dream of hearing as being allowed to voice act.  Also, Vikings and Scottish accents, do not mix.  It would have been 10 times funnier if the actual Scandinavian accents were used, for everyone, including Hiccup.  It would have added an entire dimension to the film, that was not present.  Also, are we Americans so dumb as to equate Scottish people with Vikings somehow?

As usual, I found Jay Baruchel's voice to be just as whiny as he is live.  He seriously makes me want to kill kittens.  I don't like whiny women, why on earth would I enjoy a whiny guy?  He whines throughout the entire movie.  And, once again he's type-cast into the awkward nerdy boy-can't-get-girl role.  Enough already!  The guy is not bad looking.  When he's in his civilian clothes, he's a real looker.  If they put 40 pounds of muscle on him and stop chopping off his hair, a la $10 supercuts look, he'd make a fine leading man.  Come on, Superbad was not that damned funny that we need 1 beellion and one spin offs, nor a whole new genre of pre-adult sexually titillated boy films.

How to Tame Your Dragon
If you think I'm off base, go read the books.  The books are intended for a very young audience.  Included in the series are titles like "How to Speak Dragonese", "How To Twist a Dragon's Tale", and "How to Break a Dragon's Heart". And characteristic to each book is a compilation of abbreviated chapters, slapstick humor, childlike drawings, and kid pleasing names like Snotface and Fishlegs. Much of this is purposely discarded, as directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois opt for an older demographic. Among the most significant alterations are the character ages from tween to teen, the Vikings' relationship with the dragons from training to hunting, and the size of Toothless, from a small green dragon in the book to a full-sized, fire breathing terror called the Night Fury. These changes give the film a more ominous and mature dynamic.*

So instead of them making an overly funny, tongue-in-cheek movie about a preposterous relationship between a boy and a mythical dragon, they instead give you Superbad in animated form, with a lovesick teen and a giant BLACK dragon, with nigh-shark rows of teeth.

Finally I'm really over the whole PITA bleeding hearts that want to read into this movie what they translate as a message to not harm animals.  Open your damn eyes!  The entire movie shows them killing dragons, all the way to the very end credit.  There is no message to get along with animals and not harm them.  The entire impetuous of the movie is to KILL DRAGONS.  I don't know how much more clear that message could be.  Gee, without giving away too much, the entire purpose of the chief of the village, Stoick the Vast, is to not just kill the dragons, but to find their lair ans slaughter them all, to finally be done with them, once and for all.  So the build up is for him to find it.

If you want pretty moving pictures, this has it.  Gutted is the actual story from the books.  Gutted is the humor from the books.  Gutted is the relationship of the characters from the book.  They shoulda just named it "Superbad, a Dragon's Tale".  It would have been just as close and way more obvious.  Please spare me any more whiny performances by this kid Jay Baruchel.

[credit: Mark Sells of the Oregan Herald]

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