A viking more interested in inventing than slaying is elated -and then terrified- to find out that his dragon catching machine works. Now he just has to figure out what to do with the one he's caught.
For me, Monster Vs. Aliens was a bit of disappointing follow-up to DreamWorks' nigh flawless Kung Fu Panda. Funny? Yes. Enjoyable? Sure. But all and all a step backward by comparison. It would seem however, that DreamWorks got my strongly worded letter, because How to Train Your Dragon is a rather strong front-runner for the best movie they've ever made. And this is coming from the guy that just called Kung Fu Panda "nigh-perfect".
That it's Jay Baruchel's voice emanating from within the freckled face viking Hiccup (that's his name, not a typo) is fitting since I just got down screaming from the mountain tops in my review of She's out of My League that every time I watch -or hear- him I enjoy him just a bit more. As of my viewing of Dragon, his record remains intact. As with all of these animated movies, this cast is star-studded (and rather small now that I think about it), but the stand outs are easy to pin as Gerard Butler, who gets to use his native accent on full blast for a change, and Craig Ferguson who never pretended to stop using his. They play Stoick the venerated dragon slayer, and Gobber the blacksmith, respectively.
Though the entire cast gets it's shot at delivering a juicy punch line or two, I would dare say that Dragon probably isn't as funny as all it's predecessors. This isn't meant to be a complaint however, as I would also say that its goal is as centered over making the audience laugh in the first place. To put all that a bit simpler: Dragon is absolutely hilarious, but it seems that directors Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois (the team that delivered my beloved Lilo & Stitch) were more interested in creating a sense of wonder than laugh out loud hilarity- and they were utterly successful in their goal.
This is true even beyond the most obvious factor: the dragons. The array of different species evokes a pokemon-esque sense of desperation in terms of learning everything you can about each one (i.e. catching 'em all), but at the same time never takes away from the emotional core of the story. Which is to say: you never fell like their just Toy 'R Us filler. Blending dynamics is something Dragons does very well. Another example: that overly articulated line that states out right the point of the story is definitely still there, but it's also in moments that cut just a bit deeper- albeit silently.
Whether your a lover of medieval fire breathers, a cartoon fanatic, or just bored on a Saturday afternoon, Dragons has a lot to offer any who are willing to give it a chance. DreamWorks has again offered us a heaping helping of interesting characters and heart friendly stories, while at the same time making approaches at a bit more complex of a morale. Not to complex, however. This is kid's movie after all; they need their drama mixed into their food so they don't notice their taking it.
Watcher X says: "I want one!"
Reel Deal Recommends:
Million Dollar Baby: What can I say? I love Jay Baruchel as "Danger".
Reign of Fire: Butler in a slightly different take on dragons.
A Wee Bit O' Revolution: I try to keep this to movies but Ferguson's stand up is just so funny!