Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dreamworks Dragon Review

Another movie review! But I will have actual art news probably tomorrow. I just don't have time to upload the images tonight and it's silly to talk about them without having them on hand to, ya know, look at.

Anyway. How To Train Your Dragon was really really good. The visuals were stunning. The ads all claimed the 3D was more breathtaking than Avatar and it totally was. Of course there was almost nothing to Avatar besides the pretty phosphorescent veneer.

This movie was visually a lot of fun and the story was sweet. One of the reviews I read on Rotten Tomatoes praised it for being a film that advocated learning rather than violence.

I loved this movie right up until the end. But then... the end. It was the only problem I had with the whole movie and the more I think about it, the bigger it gets.

Fair warning, there will be Massive Spoilers Ahead!

See, the main character is a plucky little viking named Hiccup. Like all young vikings he aspires to be a great Dragon Killer. Until he actually has the opportunity to kill one and finds that he doesn't want to. Through the friendship he strikes up he learns that everything the vikings think they know about dragons is wrong. He learns how to handle them in a completely non violent way and uses that knowledge to do well in his dragon fighting class. As he does better in the class though, he gets more concerned that he'll be "rewarded" by being the first in the class to get to murder a dragon.

At the finale of the second act he tries to show everyone that the killing isn't necessary and that they have nothing to fear from the dragons. This goes predictably wrong and it all builds up to Hiccup showing his friends what he has learned about dragons so that they can save all the dragons and all the vikings.

All well and good, until, as I say, the end. The entire movie thus far has dedicated itself to showing us that dragons are intelligent and if treated properly, peaceful creatures. Not killing dragons is the entire thrust of the film. Hiccup has twice refused to kill dragons when presented with the opportunity and has tried to prevent others from killing them as well. In the end they have to fight a really really big dragon. Like, way bigger than all the other ones put together. And Hiccup uses his special skills that he has learned by being open minded and non violent to...kill it. The whole movie is about not killing dragons, but I guess that one has to die because it's too big? It's different from the other dragons? What?

You tell me Dreamworks. It was just so disappointing. I really enjoyed the entire film up to that moment. The message was so appropriate and timely. Except the end of the movie completely undoes that message.

It's still a good movie. It merits a second viewing even, and the 3D was gorgeous. I cannot emphasize that enough. But you'll walk away with a much more satisfying impression if you skip the last 10 minutes or so.

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