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The other Man's Best Friend
Next Tribute ♦
About the Movie
Minor Story and character Spoilers
Character
Friendship.
As a general rule, I prefer Pixar over Dreamworks. Films like Shrek or Madagascar do nothing for me, yet films like The Incredibles and Toy Story I really like. But after reading a lot of praise about How to Train Your Dragon, I decided to go in blind and give it a go. And guess what my initial reaction was? WOW THIS IS AWESOME! Caps intended. So why did it surprise me? Well read on fellow Dragon lover...
Quote I’m going to start this article with something I don't normally have as my favourite aspect of the film, but this case it deserves the top spot. The score. I have always said that a good score can make a movie seem pretty good, but an excellent score just lifts the movie in all areas. How to Train Your Dragon has probably the strongest score of any animation, and one of my overall favourite scores of all time. Yes, I thought it was that good.

The movie starts off perfectly from the opening credits (speaking of which, did you spot the night fury in the Dreamworks logo?) with an epic piece to go along with the action packed opening scene. This is a fantastic way to set the tone for the movie and the soundtrack from the very first scene. The next few scenes are of a quieter, calmer nature. But when Hiccup meets Toothless, the score really gets into it’s stride. From there, all the way to the end battle scene, it pushes the epic-ness, emotional or action scenes to a new height. I would say it’s actually better outside the movie, so just go and listen to the score afterwards.

I’ll mention Pixar again so they are the ones to beat in my books. They very well know how to create memorable lead characters which are well liked by kids and adults alike. (Woody and Buzz, the Incredibles family, Mike and Sulley for some picks). I’m glad to report that with How to Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks have done exactly that.

Hiccup is a boy that doesn’t really fit anywhere and not your typical Viking. He’s not tall, he’s not strong and is certainly no dragon killer. Unfortunately for him, success in Berk, the island that his village is situated, is measured by how many dragons you kill. So during the latest of many dragon attacks at Berk, he decides that enough is enough and tries to use his newest invention – the Bolas launcher. After catching the mysterious night fury (that no one sees) his life changes for the better.
[Toothless and Hiccup]All the main cast and dragons that appear in the movie. They all look different don't they?
He saves the Night Fury and befriends it, rather than killing it. The relationship that forms between Hiccup, an average non-viking teenager, and Toothless, a very rare dragon, over the events of the film is really interesting to see develop. Toothless doesn’t trust humans, and Hiccup doesn’t trust dragons. But little by little both of them begin to trust each other little by little, until a bond is formed between them. The film follows both characters and how they change for the better. It’s one of the best main characters duos I have seen in a long time.

As Shrek, Toy Story and A Bugs Life will tell you, sometimes the supporting cast are just as important as the main characters. The whole cast of characters, including the humans and the Dragons, are brimming with good personalities and awesome designs. It also doesn’t fall into the trap of having too many main characters, keeping the focus on Hiccup and Toothless.

If you thought Hiccup was a bit of an oddball, then wait to you meet the other main characters. Meet Stoick the vast and his booming presence. Being the chef of the village, he has many responsibilities, especially when dragons start attacking. But his biggest responsibility is he is Hiccup’s father. You have never met two family members that are so different. Gobber the Belch is Stoick’s first hand and friend of Hiccups. With his wise cracks, “advice” and his expert blacksmith skills, he keeps the peace Hiccup and his father.

Gobber also trains the new dragon recruits, to become expert dragon killers. Astrid has good looks but is very tough, and the most accomplished among the trainees. You also have Snotlout, the not-so-brainy trainee who thinks that he is, Fishlegs who is brainy and the twins Tuffnut and Ruffnut who aren’t the brighest bunch. These characters all offer something new to the film, especially at the end of the film. I won’t spoil what happens, but you will like it!


Closing Thoughts
Classic Classic
How to Train Your Dragon is the strongest animation film Dreamworks has ever made. It barely puts a foot (or wing) wrong. If your craving for a Pixar style movie with Pixar quality, then check this out. It’s exactly that – that's biggest compliment you can give with a CGI film. Check out the Sequel, and the Dragons TV series for the continuing adventures of Hiccup, Toothless and the gang.

My One Big Highlight
Spiderman The film explores Hiccups and Toothless friendship and this finally gets awarded with their first flight. The fantastic animation and score make it even more so a great achievement: “Yes I've done it!” thinks Hiccup, and too right! Things only get faster and more impressive from there.
Elephant In the Room
elephantThe only slight problem that could occur with How to Train Your Dragon is quite subjective – Hiccups voice. Some people may find his voice annoying (my parents do) but then I have no problem with it.
Article
Daring Dairy
Minor Spoilers
[Hiccup's Diary]Look at Hiccup's drawing. Quite a good sketch for a smart viking. That's something you usually don't see written down do you?
March 1st 2010
Dragons have been part of my whole life, literally. My dad had to fend off a Dragon attack when I was being born. But for one reason or another, which may or may not have anything to do with my dad saying writings are for wimps, I have never kept a diary of my dragon encounters and killings. Who am I kidding, I have never killed a dragon. So here is my dragon diary. Of my epic encounters and vicious killings, erm, of my Dragon findings. I just have to make sure my dad doesn’t see this.
March 8th
Nothing to report
March 15th
Excitement! A Monstrous Nightmare came into the village. Well, when I say came, more like burned the village. But my dad managed to fend him off. I was at Gobber’s shack at the time, he looked he enjoyed taking it down. Didn’t see if he killed it though, thankfully.
March 18th
Still nothing, maybe I’m either asleep when these attacks happen, or this diary maybe a waste of time.
March 26th
Wow, what an action packed day! Well, we had a giant, and I mean, giant swarm of dragons attacking all over. Me and Gobber had a lot of weapons to fix and sharpen. I wanted to try out my new weapon but Gobber wouldn’t let me go, saying I wasn’t a dragon killer. He had a point, but still…

I managed to sneak out and set up my new catapult at the back of the village. I heard someone spotting a Night Fury a few minutes earlier. So I set it up and waited. I spotted it. I fired… and I managed to hit it! I couldn’t believe it! But before I could react, that Monstrous Nightmare returned and I nearly got burned. I tried to tell my dad about the night fury, but because I managed to get the dragon to burn down the village tower, he wouldn’t listen. I’ll show him who’s a Viking.
[Hiccup's Diary]You see? You CAN train a dragon.
March 27th
Early this morning I set off into the woods to track down the Night Fury. I first thought that someone had got to it first, but then I found it. It was just lying there, with it being tangled up in the bolas I shot from my canyon.

I’ve never seen a dragon so close up. I went up to the beast and got my dagger out. I thought to myself: this is it, your going to kill your first dragon. Kill the dragon, and bring the heart to my father. But I couldn’t do it. He looked into my eyes and looked as scared as I was. So, I went against what my dad in my head was telling me, and I cut him loose. The Night Fury then jumped and slammed me to the ground with his claw. But he didn’t finish me off (but you knew that because I’m writing this), he just roared at me and left. Let's just say I couldn't remember just after that.

I came back home, only to have another of my one-sided conversations with my dad (that's what you get when your Dad is chief of our village) saying that I start Dragon training in the morning. How messed up is that! So I went along with it, for now.
March 28th
I did dragon training this morning, only to be nearly blasted by a Gronckle. One thing that Gobber said stood out to me: “A dragon will always go for the kill”. But why didn't the Night Fury while it had the chance? Time to get some answers.

I snuck off after training and found the Night Fury in the canyon, just next to the area where I found him yesterday. I couldn't understand why he hadn't flown away. While I was working it out, I sketched the Night Fury into this diary. I then discovered that a part of his tail was missing, so that's why he's still here. He can't fly! But then, in my typical clumsy fashion, I dropped my pencil, and then he stared at me. I left before he tried to attack me or something.
March 29th
More dragon training. I asked Gobber on how to sneak up on a Night Fury. He said that no one has lived to tell the tail. Great. Thanks Gobber. Once training was over, I'd thought I’d feed my new friend, considering he couldn't catch any fish yesterday. He happily eat it, as soon as I got rid of my knife. He then starts sniffing me and regurgitates the fish for me. How nice, but that wasn't enough. He wanted me to eat it too! So I did. If a dangerous dragon wants you to eat his fish, you don't ask any questions.

The Dragon, which I named Toothless, due to his attractable teeth, mimics me for the rest of the day. Smiling, sitting down and drawing in the sand, it doesn't look like he's been around a human before. But then after some clever foot-work, to get out of Toothless' maze of drawings in the sand, I nearly bumped into him. I reached my hand and touched his face! Is he starting to trust me now? Well, nearly, as he flew away after that. What a surreal day.

There's more to come! But I'll have to write down later. It's been a busy few days. Bye Bye Diary.