How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) – On Growing Up and Letting Go

      “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is a really good film. It isn’t as good as the first 2 films, but this is a solid end to the franchise. If you’ve come this far I’d say it is worth finishing. The ending is one of the most heart touching things you’ll see this year and the animation and action are the best this series has ever been. Also I am biased in that I am glad this is the ending.  A trilogy is a a great way to end any series and when you go beyond that it is easy for studios to mess up.

The film was directed, produced and written by Dean DeBlois, with Brad Lewis being the other producer.

The story involves Hiccup and his dragon-riders continuing to rescue dragons and bringing them to Berk. This leads to overcrowding leading Hiccup to call upon his dad’s dream of finding the “Hidden World” where dragons and humans can live and peace. All doesn’t go according to plan when an old dragon hunter enters the scene. Grimmel who hunted the Night Fury to near extinction. With the warlords at his back he brings war to Hiccup and Berk.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – The action in this film is great. Grimmel (the main baddy) and his Deathgrippers (venom-fire spitting dragons) cause some great action sequences when they are escaping, capturing dragons or fighting against Hiccup. Visually the action sequences are a lot of fun. The fact that Hiccup and his main crew now use dragon armor and Hiccup has a burning swords adds to the visual appeal of it all.

The Animation – The animation is the best it is has ever been. It must have been difficult to animate the Hidden World when they finally reach it. There are such a variety of dragons and mirage of colors that it simply draws you in. Same goes for when Hiccup moves the Vikings to find a new land. The sheer amount of characters and creatures in motion is seamless, as well as the reveal of the new forest island they choose to call home. This is a movie animated on an epic scale and it loves it up to that. Every scene has so much detail to it, while still focusing in on the characters who drive the action.

Astrid and Hiccup – This is the core relationship that drives the series. Astrid and Hiccup are the heroes of the film. Astrid is the one who sees the big picture and sees the people, while everything Hiccup does is to protect the dragons. It is a wonderful dynamic and we see how they compliment one another. Hiccup is the idealist while Astrid is much more down to earth. I do wish Astrid had got more development as so much of her development is tied to Hiccup as chief, but it still shows they are partners. This is really them growing as leaders and in regards to Hiccup, him accepting that the dragons should be free and not domesticated.

Toothless and the Light Fury – This relationship is a relationship between two cats. Like Astrid and Hiccup they compliment one another as the Light Fury shows Toothless that he can lead all dragons and be their guardian. The Light Fury is also being used to her getting revenge is a mini-arc that I appreciated, as well as her coming to trust humans when she saves Hiccup after he frees Toothless from Grimmel’s control. This relationship was adorable and was just as core as the main relationship that drove the film.

The Ending – The ending is a reunion of friends. Astrid and Hiccup take their kids to the Hidden World where the dragons are living and meet the Light Fury and Toothless’s babies. It is really sweet and for any fan of the series you will feel. This gave the series a sense of finality too, which “Kung Fu Panda 3” didn’t give in the same way. This was smart and if the studio does go greedy, they’ll have to be really smart to give this trilogy a worthy epilogue.

Okay:

Grimmel the Grisley – F. Murray Abraham is good at giving us a threatening feeling character in Grimmel. His introduction is killing a dragon without reacting and escaping Burk, even with it being full of dragons. He also has the Light Fury that he uses to bait Toothless, which is clever. Traps are his game and they could have been used so much more. He has a trap that nearly works that should have killed at least one of the characters (Hiccup’s dad was killed last film, raise the stakes). But in the end it doesn’t work. This doesn’t help as from here on in he never feels like a threat. Our heroes beat him without their dragons after Grimmel takes control of them when he captures Toothless, and though we are given good visuals it is nothing more. He needed to truly hurt our heroes or have a real personal reason we saw to want to end all dragons. We don’t get either, which makes him the weakest enemy in the Trilogy. Still a decent villain but he deserved so much more lore and development.

The Cons:

The Villain Warlords – There are 4 warlords who clearly have different looking armor so should have had differing personalities and goals, but they don’t. Instead we have 4 people who hate Berk, want to kill dragons but not use them in anyway we ever see (resources, etc.) and are all just stupid fighters. The only thing that sets them apart is their armor sets and the fact that 3 are men and 1 is a woman. This isn’t good. They should have been in a more adversarial relationship against Grimmel (or split between them in loyalties) or at least have different expressed goals at what they’d do with the killed dragons. They served no purpose beyond paying Grimmel to take on Berk. David Tennant voiced one of the warlords, and I couldn’t even tell. He’s one of my favorite actors so it was such a horrible use of such great talent.

If you’ve come this far, you deserve to finish. The film itself is solidly good with a great ending and it does give a bit more lore. Where it fails is in the minor characters, which is a shame is that is the only thing keeping the film from greatness. I wanted more time with Hiccup’s mom Valka and his Uncle, or any of the Warlords. They deserved better development. I would still recommend to any who love the series and great animation. This film knows that this is the end and it goes all in on the operatic fights and the core relationships. This is a film that knows how to say good-bye.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 5 – “The Girl Who Died” – The Doctor Creates a Tidal Wave

The Girl Who Died

 “The Girl Who Died” could have easily been “Robot of Sherwood” bad but where that didn’t take the drama or characters seriously…this one did and elevated what could have easily been a joke script into a high concept Time Travel drama that is bigger than the sum of all it’s parts.

    The episode was directed by Ed Bazalgette and written by Steven Moffat and Jamie Mathieson.

SPOILERS ahead.

     The story involves the Doctor protecting a Viking village from a race called the Mire whose leader eats Viking Testosterone. It is up to the Shield-maiden Ashildr (Maisie Williams) Clara and the Doctor to stop them before the Mire make war on the village and destroy it.

The Pros: The Viking Village – The vikings are actually humanized! There is one character who is a father and a blacksmith and it is his child that makes the Doctor aware that he has the face he does so that he will always remember to save people…that he’ll always find a way (the man Caecilius the Doctor saved in “Fires of Pompeii”). The characters are all humanized and even though are played for laughs sometimes, never feel like jokes.

The Mire – The Mire are pretty cool. You have species who feed off of testosterone and are highly armored since their faces are giant mouths…I really liked their design and it’s wonderful seeing a new Warrior Race. I hope we see them again.

Clara – Clara is there to remind the Doctor of his role as a protector again as after they help save a species that a greater species was trying to kill they are put into the situation again when Ashilder declares war on the Mire for the destruction of her warriors. It is from here she is always pulling the Doctor back from his detachment and need to run. She is the one who reminds him he can stand and fight and think of a plan.

Ashildr – Ashildr is our new Harkness! She is the storyteller and Shield-maiden of the village who is the outsider even among her people and it is her taking advantage of the Mire’s hacked technology that turns the village’s puppets into Dragons that force them to run in fear. She dies in the process though and it is the Doctor using Mire tech. that brings her back to life, making her a hybrid immortal as the Mire are self-repairing and cannot die. It’s a powerful scene as at the end we see the world changing around her as she stays the same and goes from joy to pain at living. She is also most likely the Hybrid Warrior that Davros spoke of in the prophecy.

The Doctor – The Doctor warns about creating waves and ripples and it is implied that saving Ashildr was the right thing to do but he may have created a ripple that’s out of his control (Like Jack Harkness) and it is implied we will feel the consequences of saving Ashildr later. It’s powerful as the Doctor is questioning his power and the choices to make…that sometimes it is right to run and other times the most you can do is save one person…be it Caecilius or Ashildr and deal with the consequences of those choices later.

The Doctor created a wave in this with giving us another immortal and I really hope we see the full consequences of it as this time the show is really analyzing what it means to give someone immortality and how seeing the ones they love die can change a person and make them hard, like the Doctor. Being immortal be it as a Time Lord or a hybrid is shown to be a responsibility which the New Series hasn’t really fully dealt with until now. For these reasons and more I highly recommend this episode that may end up being the best this season.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Kung Fury (2015): A Satirical Celebration of the 1980s, Kung Fu and B Movies

Kung Fury Poster

      “Kung Fury” is so bad it’s good. It is a Swedish Martial Arts film that is also short and if you have seen any 80’s cop films or 80’s B Movies you can tell where the inspiration and writing is drawn from. I’m would not call this film great, I do think it depends too much on the cliches and tropes, but even within all of that the characters and execution of things are distinct in their own right. It also has a really awesome theme song.

    The story behind it is pretty cool as it was a Kickstarter project that made it big and actually said what it was going to do when it exceeded it’s money goal of 630,019 U.S. Dollars. That is something great and the folks behind it where clearly passionate about creating this project.

  The film was directed, written by David Sandberg, who also starred in it. The producers were Linus Andersson and Eleni Young Antonia.

    The story takes place in 1985 and follows the exploits of Kung Fury, a cop who is the Chosen One and Master of Kung Fu after his partner (who is like family to him) is killed by a Ninja and he is struck by lightning and bit by a cobra. From here he is asked to take leave from the Police department after he refuses to work his partner Triceracop but is pulled back in after a Time Traveling Hitler “Kung Führer” shoots up the police department to kill Kung Fury since he wants to be the Chosen One. From here Kung Fury must travel back in time to Nazi Germany defeat Hitler, but things don’t go as planned.

The Pros: The Action – The action is really tacky and great. Limps fly off, electricity destroys bodies and Kung Fury does actual Kung Fu to defeat his enemies.

The Cinematography – There is a lot of greenscreen since this film was built on Kickstarter but even with their limited affects they do a great job and they recreate the 80’s B Movie feel really well, which is why I am making it a plus. It knows exactly what it wants to be and does it.

The Soundtrack – Mitch Murder and Lost Years did a great job on the soundtrack as it is full of 80’s synth rock and the theme song is sung by David Hasselhoff. It is a really catchy song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTidn2dBYbY

The Ideas and Tropes – Viking Women who ride dinosaurs, Thor who is obsessed with his muscles, Hitler who does Kung Fu, Triceracop and all the Chosen One cliches…this is what makes the movie work though there really aren’t any memorable characters. It kicks off with the most common cop cliche and it is hilarious as his partner is like family to him and right after they have a heart to heart he is killed. We also see Hackerman resurrect Kung Fury when Fury is transported to Heaven which is an 80’s cartoon but comes back when he accuses his spirit animal of obstructing justice by not letting him return to life. Also there are Laser Raptors.

Mocking and Celebrating Cliches – His partner is killed which makes him a cop with a chip on his shoulder unable to trust until his friends come through to rescue him. Contrived circumstances make him the Chosen One. Nazi bad guys and Ninjas all over the place, also Vikings and Dinosaurs which are too very overused tropes from this era and in general. All of these were celebrated and critiqued in the process.

The Cons: Execution of Story – The film is a short film (only 30 minutes long) and because of this we know nothing about the characters. I put the tropes down as a plus but I still need character development, even in a comedy. I blame this mostly on the time constraints but this is still a con and keeps it from being “So bad it’s great.”

Sequelitis – The film is setup at the end where Hitler survives getting crushed by Thor after he joins Kung Fury in the fight against Nazi Germany. This was clearly to setup a sequel, which I’d be surprised if it happened. The film could have been a great stand alone without Hitler surviving and swearing revenge.

If you like comedies, 80’s films, Kung Fu films and deconstruction and celebration of tropes, check out this film! It is short and really enjoyable. It knows what it wanted to do and it did it. You won’t get to know the characters all that well, but you will still most likely have a very enjoyable experience.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Gargoyles Pilot – Season 1, Episodes 1-5 – “Awakening” – A Matter of Trust

Gargoyles-AwakeningPartTwo40

“Gargoyles” was a show that I loved when I watched it in College, at least the first 2 seasons. I couldn’t get through season 3 because of the animation but may try again later. For this though, I’m going to be reviewing Season 1 and starting with the 5 Part Pilot of “Awakening.” Suffice to say I was impressed.

Part of the reason I loved this show were all the guest stars from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that really got a chance to shine. Folks from one of my favorite sci. fi. shows in one of my favorite fantasy shows. It was a win win.

The story was written by Eric Luke and Michael Reaves and directed by Kazuo Terada and Saburo Hashimoto.

The story of “Gargoyles” begins in the past in Scotland. Gargoyles lead by Goliath protect the Scots from viking attacks, but one day they are betrayed by a man they consider a friend which leads to the vikings exterminating most of the gargoyles and enslaving the Scots. When the survivors free the Scots the Princess goes missing and they are blamed and turned to stone until the castle is above the skies. Goliath decides to join them and 1000 years pass and they brought to the present by Xanatos who puts their castle on top of his building. The story than unfolds as they deal with trusting humans, a reveal from the past and Goliath’s budding relationship with Detective Maza.

Demona

Here is the assessment of the episodes:

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is fantastic! Who would have thought making gargoyles living creatures who experience prejudice in all time periods would work so well. Them being outsiders and outside of time is part of what makes it so strong as they adapt to the future and finding their way. Having magic in this world works too by the very existence of the gargoyles on the scene. It establishes the fantastic early.

The Gargoyles – They can glide, live in clans and turn into stone by the light of the sun. They are powerful but have limitations which make them so amazing! They also have reason to distrust humans which makes for an interesting drama from the get go.

The characters: Goliath – The leader and first named of the gargoyles since the Gargoyles don’t have names except the ones humans give them, and Goliath was named so because of how large he was, and the fear related to him. He is a great character who is moral and fights for his people. He does not believe in killing and only does revenge as a last resort, because of his experience with the Princess and her Sorceress realizing they were wrong, he is able to trust again in the future.

Demona – Marina Sirtis from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is Goliath’s mate and takes the name because of how she hates being betrayed time and again by humans. She is the Magneto to Goliath’s Xavier and you can see where she’s coming from. The only thing I hated was when she targets the Gargoyles when they don’t stay loyal to Xanatos, this struck me as out of character…since she is the one trying to protect them in the long term. That was why she made the deal with the captain in the hopes that Goliath would take all the gargoyles to go and hunt down the Vikings.

Detective Maza – She is the one who shows Goliath that not all people are bad and risks her life countless times for him. She is an awesome protagonist and the main human perspective we get outside of Xanatos. She is the anti-Xanatos as she sees beyond herself and truly cares about the gargoyles. Salli Richardson does a good job.

E&Gargs

The Support Characters – Brooklyn (the beaked gargoyle), Hudson (the oldest and the mentor), Lexington (the techie), Broadway (the biggest one) and Bronx (the dog) are all amazing. You see why they care as they experienced kindness from a child and you see why they are the ones who survived, they were the outcasts of the outcasts and punished because they were strange by gargoyle standards and wanted to interact with people. They are the best support characters.

The Princess and the Sorcerer – These two are selfish distrusting folks who eventually feel guilt after the gargoyles sacrifice to save them and promise to protect the gargoyles hatchlings. Probably the weakest but that isn’t there fault as much as a time issue. The episode could have explored them both more, but they achieve their purpose for future episode arcs and showing Goliath not all humans are bad.

Xanatos

Xanatos – This guy has had a trope named after him because he is so intelligent and manipulative. Everything he does is a gambit and he has plans within plans or something to hold over the gargoyles head so that he’ll survive another day. Jonathan Frakes owned this role and he is one of my favorite complicated villains. His motivations work because he feels human even if he Lex Luthory at times. One of the best animated villains and the ultimate chess master. This episode he still has the gargoyles to manipulate at the end and he has nothing to hold over his head. He loses nothing at the episodes end even with the reveal of him trying to kill the gargoyles and only using them for himself.

The Message – There are reasons to trust and not trust people, but differences should not be a factor as there are good people in any group. It’s very X-Meny, but because their gargoyles it adds even more. The gargoyles look nothing like us and are like aliens and are different and good. It is sad every time people react towards fear towards them and seeing Demona consumed by hatred to the point she is no longer the person she was before.

I got to say I highly recommend this Pilot and can’t wait to review the rest of the season. It’s solid and gives a lot of room to explore all the characters. This episode has a wonderful larger point, tells a beautiful story and creates an interesting species of creatures while keeping a dark tone intermixed with hope. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Final Score is 10 / 10. One of the best pilots of any show.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014): A Time to Fight

How to Train Your Dragon 2

“How to Train Your Dragon 2,” is definitely the best Dreamworks animated sequel and might be the best Dreamworks animated movie…I’d have to rewatch “Prince of Egypt,”again before I say that for certain though.

Everything the first movie did well, this movie did better (though introduces a problem the first movie didn’t have) and the movie also dealt with loss, morality and growing up in a much deeper way than the first film. I’m saying all this now before getting into the assessment, since explaining all these things will be spoilers.

The premise to “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” is that Hiccup has been chosen by his father to the heir to Berk and Chieftain of the clan. Hiccup doesn’t feel ready since his passion is exploring and mapping the world, living free and in the moment. Things come to a head though when Drago and his army arrive on the scene and Hiccup must deal with the consequences of this new enemy.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Here is my assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Music: The music once again is fantastic. It takes the Scottish theme and even incorporates a traditional tune for a love song that appears at one point in the film. Just as great as the first film musicwise.

The Animation: The animation has been improved. I saw it in 3D and in this instance the 3D is definitely worth it. The details of the dragons and the hair upon the people (from slight facial hair to large beards and different hair styles) is fantastic. They’ve improved upon the first one which already had great animation.

The Characters: The characters are once again fantastic, the main Dragon Riders team has grown up and is given more to do. There is even a three way romantic triangle between them (3 way being that the guys competing for the affection of Ruffnutt feel no ill will towards each other). I’m going to go more in depth on the individual characters who stood out next before I get into the relationships.

Eret – Eret the Dragon hunter played by Kit Harrington is a new character in this film, and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones) does a great job! We see this egotistical dragon hunter ruled by fear of dragons eventually come to accept and love them when Astrid’s dragon saves his life. He eventually is taken into the community of Berk at the end and inherits a dragon.

Gobber – Gobber is gay and the reveal is fantastic! It is sad that he is the only explicitly gay animated character that we know about so far. Get on that Pixar! He is great as the supporting character again and he really is part of the family. He is like Hiccup’s Uncle and an adopted brother to Stoick. He has some comedic moments but he always shines on the emotional moments and the fights. His character grew a lot this film.

Astrid – I debated putting her in the okay area, but decided against it. She is used pretty well in this film. We get to see that she is like Stoick, she leads and is stubborn in her beliefs like Stoick against the flighty Hiccup. This is done well, though could have been done better. She kind of disappears again in the third act as mostly support…though she is really active in the first 2 acts and is once again the unspoken leader of the Dragon Riders (as Hiccup becomes the Leader of the Clan).

Stoick – Stoick is one of the best characters in this movie. We get to see how much he’s sacrificed and sacrifices for this people and that though he is stubborn he listens and is willing to try the path of the people he loves. For example when he find his wife alive…which will get it’s own entry further down…as well as what happens to him.

Valka – Hiccup has an awesome mom! You can understand why she left, given that she saw her inability to harm dragons as putting the village in danger…and that there is no way to build a bridge between Dragons and Vikings. Her role as a rescuer of Dragons is really well done. She is essentially the anti-Drago representing freedom of choice verses Drago’s domination of others.

Hiccup – Is great in this in that he is dealing with his desire for freedom verses responsibility to his people as well as how is world is changed when he learns his mother Valka is alive and is living the life he wants to live (saving Dragons and exploring the world to find other Dragons) and also dealing diplomacy verses fighting given that Drago has no desire for peace and goes about destroying everything precious to Hiccup at one point in the film in his conquest for power. Suffice to say we see Hiccup rise to the occasion and become a worthy Chief.

Toothless – This film is as much about Toothless as about Hiccup. He also has an ascension story as he builds relationships with the other dragons and even finds his inner power when he takes on an Alpha to defend to Hiccup and in turn becomes the Alpha of the Dragons, proving the way to a person’s loyalty is sacrifice and not fear.

The Stoick and Hiccup relationship – Is really well done in this film. They develop their dynamic further and we even see Stoick going out to rescue Hiccup after he leaves to try and convince Drago to accept peace. In the end their mother builds a bridge between them as she represents where Hiccup is and when he sees his Father’s patience and tenderness with going where Valka wants to go he begins to accept that he is a part of them both which leads to him beginning to accept his future role.

The Valka and Hiccup relationship – This reveal could have ruined the film…his mom being alive but missing for twenty years…there are more ways than I can count that that premise could destroy the plot. It doesn’t though, it only compliments it. Valka teaches Hiccup about dragons and apologizes for abandoning him. They do start over and we see her reflected in his as the life he wants to lead. He also begins to realize that Drago can’t be negotiated with when she warns him against it because of that time together.

The Dilemma – The Dilemma is perfect and answers the question, is there a time to fight? The answer is yes. Over the course of the film Hiccup realizes he must defend his home and his community from those who don’t want peace and want to dominate and enslave. This is revealed when he talks to Drago who believes the only way to live with others is to dominate them through fear. He realizes that he was wrong after fear is used to dominate Toothless to kill someone close to him.

The Battles – Are really good in this. The fight at the sanctuary is especially given we see nature and technology used in unison in different ways as the two factions (Stoick verses Drago) takes place.

The Loss – I love bittersweet stories, and this one was. Stoick dies…killed by Toothless when Drago uses the Alpha to control Toothless to kill Hiccup which leads to Stoick jumping in the way. It was sad and I’m glad they didn’t bring him back…it motivated Hiccup to become the Hero and also the reason he casts Toothless away until he comes to the understanding that “Good Dragons are being used by Bad Dragons,” and devotes the climax to rescuing Toothless and his people.

Okay: Drago – Isn’t super memorable in this. He is a one not baddie just like the Alpha Dragon in the first movie. They attempt to give him motivation but he spends most of the film just screaming and hurting people. Like the Alpha Dragon in the first film he only exists as a force of nature. There also is a con associated with him.

Cons: Racism – Drago is the only dark skinned character seen in this entire universe…and he is the bad guy. This could have easily been avoided by making him like the other vikings or even having people from his people joining the vikings. It is this factor (poor planning, don’t know if this was purposeful or not, it could just be stupidity like “Resident Evil 5,” but this factor keeps it from being a perfect film). It could have easily been avoided which is a shame. Hopefully we see more dark skinned heroes in future animated films.

The Director and co-writer DeBlois has done it again and I have to say I look forward to the 3rd film. Hopefully with the world opening up from Valka and Hiccup exploring it we can see the wrongs of this one (racism) dealt with. Let’s see a diversity of people just as we see a diversity of dragons and from that a diversity of heroes from this amazing world. I highly recommend this film to anyone, Hiccup’s story and the relationships are the driving factor and the movie achieves these relationships perfectly.

My Score for this film is 9.7 / 10.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010): To Build a Bridge between Vikings and Dragons

How-to-train-your-dragon

“How to Train Your Dragon,” is the story of Hiccup and his relationship with the dragon he catches and his father Stoick. The main drama revolves around Hiccup being outcast among the Vikings and dealing with the threat dragons who are destroying the Isle of Berk, the home of the Vikings. From here the drama unfolds.

“How to Train Your Dragon,” was one of the few truly good Dreamworks stories since their 2D animation days and like all profitable stories became a Franchise getting a television show and some short movies within the Universe…as well as the sequel that I plan on seeing for the next review. What helps this series I think is the fact that it is based off a book series by Cressida Cowell so there already is a lot material to take inspiration from for the characters and setting.

Without further ado, here is my assessment of the film:

Pros: The Music – The music is fantastic and I definitely plan on listening to it again for my own stories. It has Scottish themes in the sound and also uses silence for tension at just the right points and a soaring score when Hiccup and his dragon Toothless take to the air.

The animation – The animation is Pixar quality. Unlike most of the crap Dreamworks was putting out around this time this one was made with love. They even go into why certain characters look the way they do…such as the different types of dragons, or Gobber who lost a hand and a foot fighting dragons.

The characters – The characters get really fleshed out. There are some their for comic relief, like most of the teens who become Dragonriders (Astrid is the only one of them who really gets any exploration…the rest are stereotypes (the jock, the creeps, the nerd). But they are still handled with respect and given a moment to shine. Not a single minor character is useless or does nothing. The main characters of course get some great development which I’ll go into further down in the relationships they are a part of.

The Dragons – Their designs are awesome! From fat and thin to sleek, to many heads or one…they also are like cats and dogs in personality which makes their interactions enjoyable as well as the process of training them that the Vikings eventually go through thanks to Hiccup and Toothless.

Special recognition to Astrid (the toughest character besides Stoick) and Gobber who is actually funny and a pretty great mentor the kids and Hiccup, and of course Stoick for dealing with the conflict of being a leader and his relationship to Hiccup.

Hiccup and Stoick/The Father and Son Relationship – This is the relationship that really drives the story. Stoick is all about fighting and cannot see beyond the old ways in relationship to dragons for most of the film their difference is reflected in his son too, who he is unable to accept for most of the film. This creates great drama and tension between the characters leading to some amazing payoff at the end (the ending gets it’s own entry).

Hiccup and Toothless – This relationship is wonderful in that it is part of Hiccup’s journey to accept himself. Toothless needs his inventive skills and Hiccup owes Toothless a debt for breaking his tail in the first place. There journey from distrust to friendship is the other driving plot in this film and it is from this relationship that Hiccup is eventually accepted by the tribe and his crush Astrid.

The first and second flight – The first flight is when Hiccup is learning how to fly with Toothless, it here the sensation of flying and falling are the most strong. It is a great scene and shows where Hiccup gets his confidence more fully.

The second flight is the first time he breaks down a bridge with Toothless as he shows Astrid that Toothless is safe and it is here where the romance begins as well as Astrid’s apology to Toothless for initially trying to attack him.

The final fight – The Boss Fight with the Alpha Dragon is fantastic. We get to see human ingenuity with Hiccup and the Dragon riders against the biggest and deadliest dragon of them all. We also see Stoick finally appreciating Hiccup’s perspective and the love he’s felt all this time and hid. One of the best scenes of the fight when the Dragon takes off and Toothless destroys it’s wings. The final battle also has consequences leaving Toothless injured and Hiccup losing a foot.

The Ending – Is fantastic…dragons and Vikings working together and in it both of them profiting from it. Stoick has also finally learned to accept and appreciate his son. Hiccup and Toothless have also exchanged roles as Toothless helps Hiccup walk as Hiccup had taught Toothless how to fly. There is also his ending monologue which ties back into the beginning (My village sucks, we’re tough and we got unique pests (original) to the new one (We’re tough, our village sucks and we have the best pets).

Okay: The Romance – It could have been better. Astrid hates Hiccup for a long time because he isn’t like a traditional Viking and she see’s him as putting the tribe at risk to the dragons. Once she sees his perspective she falls in love, but I wish it had been more gradual. It isn’t bad, it just could have been handled better.

Astrid – I would have liked to see her save Hiccup once in the last battle. They set up this really cool character, but once she became romantic partner her role was diminished, especially in the action in regards to Hiccup. She even has a damsel in distress moment (which is more redeemable I guess in that she saves him a bunch during training before he learns how to train Toothless).

“How to Train Your Dragon,” still stands as one of the best Dreamworks films and one of my favorites. The themes are handled beautifully and the animation is still amazing to watch today. I look forward to seeing the sequel and how they handle this new world where Dragons and Vikings live in harmony. I highly recommend this film for anyone looking for a good action/adventure/fantasy film with a larger point and great characters.

My Score for “How to Train your Dragon” is 9.5 / 10.