Please sign up or log in for the best forum experience!

    Pages: 1

Angela Mar 28, 2010 (edited May 6, 2010)

Seeing Alice In Wonderland and How To Train Your Dragon back-to-back this weekend clearly didn't do the former any favors; Dragon was so much more enjoyable that I wished I could've gotten back the cash I'd plunked down for Alice to see the latter again.

It's no secret that Dreamworks Animation has a checkered history in terms of quality releases.  Kung Fu Panda was an oyster pearl lying in a sea of disappointment; disappointments like Shrek The Third, Flushed Away, and The Bee Movie.  Last year's Monsters vs Aliens didn't exactly make a whole lot of waves either, so it always comes as a genuine shock when a film as good as How To Train Your Dragon comes out from the studio.

Like Panda, Dragon feels less like a typical Dreamworks project, and quite a bit more like a Pixar one.  It doesn't go the pop-culture and satirical references route, but simply aims to tell a solid coming-of-age tale, and the importance of acceptance.  The twist this time is that it's not just our central character who undergoes this journey, but most of the supporting cast too.  The companionship between Toothless and Hiccup (played to meek, geeky perfection by Jay Baruchel) is paced extremely well; the trailers would have you believe that they automatically end up as friends, but that isn't the case.  There's a realistic sense of progression to their precarious but growing trust, their bond cultivating into a number of incredible sequences toward the latter half.  The affliction between Hiccup's loyalties to his tribe and the dragons he chooses to associate with is a sharp and meaningful contrast that makes for a terrific story.

The overall look of the movie is great, if still a few notches below Pixar's best efforts.  The choreography is stunning, though, especially during the exhilarating flight sequences.  Avatar still remains the one to beat when it comes to 3D, but Dragon convinces me that this is the second best use I've seen of the gimmick since Coraline.

And John Powell's score is MAGIC.  There are strains of Hancock's impossibly uplifting "The Moon And The Superhero" main theme, but more epic, medieval and Scottish.  This is no more evident than in the track This Is Berk.  Most of the score works both in and out of the film, but Romantic Flight brings about a truly lovely sense of elegance for a sequence you simply need to see in context.  It's wonderful stuff, and music storytelling at its finest.

I'm still bubbling with excitement.  It's obviously silly for me to say at this early point in time, but I'll be damned if this doesn't crop up as one of my top five films of 2010.

Wanderer Mar 28, 2010

I'll be seeing this next Thursday in 3D. I'm really looking forward to it! And I've heard John Powell's score is terrific (which wouldn't surprise me as he's one of the best film composers working today).

Idolores Mar 28, 2010

Nice review, Angie. I wasn't impressed with Monsters vs Aliens at all, but then again, most Dreamworks films fail to instill any lasting impression in me. I'm glad Dragon is a step up for them.

Boco Mar 28, 2010

This is an encouraging review! I've been intrigued by this film, but I was still a little wary. Early previews didn't look very promising. The more recent previews along with positive reviews like yours have sparked my interest though. To be fair though, Kung Fu Panda was the same way. The early previews looked simply awful! But as I learned more about it, I thought it had promise. Then my sister saw it and convinced me to give it a try. Turned out it was great!

It's looking like this might turn out to be good as well. I'll definitely have to check it out! big_smile

Bernhardt Mar 28, 2010

Angela wrote:

Avatar still remains the one to beat when it comes to 3D, but Dragon convinces me that this is the second best use I've seen of the gimmick since Coraline.

Yeah, I thought it was pretty arrogant when they said that the 3D graphics in the film "Are enough even to make Avatar blush!"

Cartoony 3D and realistic 3D are two entirely separate things, as much as the movies themselves are, Dragon being far more comedic, and Avatar being far more dramatic; that, and Dragon being more kid-friendly, too; why they'd try compare-contrast advertising between the two just seems stupid to me, and really didn't add to the reasons as to why I should see the movie; it's about DRAGONS, for crying out loud, why not try capitalizing on that?!

Adam Corn Mar 30, 2010 (edited Mar 30, 2010)

Bernhardt wrote:

...Avatar being far more dramatic; that, and Dragon being more kid-friendly, too; why they'd try compare-contrast advertising between the two just seems stupid to me, and really didn't add to the reasons as to why I should see the movie; it's about DRAGONS, for crying out loud, why not try capitalizing on that?!

Because every movie with dragon in the title or as its main emphasis has tanked at the box office, whereas Avatar made a few bajillion dollars.  That would probably be why.

Anyway I didn't know much about this movie except for the co-sponsored HP commercials (which I saw while in Hawaii last week big_smile) but am excited to read it seems to be a return to Shrek 1 & 2 Dreamworks form, as well as by the positive word on the soundtrack.

Wanderer Apr 1, 2010

Great movie. Got choked up a few times. And Powell's score is perfection. I was thrilled that he ended the movie with my favorite theme. wink

Angela Apr 2, 2010 (edited Apr 3, 2010)

Swung by the bookstore after work last night.  Natch.  Pictures to follow in the Art book thread.

Wanderer wrote:

Great movie. Got choked up a few times. And Powell's score is perfection. I was thrilled that he ended the movie with my favorite theme. wink

Have you given the soundtrack a listen yet?  The musical segments leading up and into the final battle are beyond spectacular.  If you take into account the three tracks..... Ready The Ships, Battling The Green Death, and Counter Attack, you have close to fifteen minutes of streamlined, epic glory.  The main theme reprisals in that second track are particularly resonating.

Do you recall where "The Vikings Have Their Tea" plays in the film?  An epilogue coda I couldn't stay for, perhaps?

Wanderer Apr 2, 2010

The soundtrack could have used some pruning but at least I can pick and choose the tracks I want to listen to. wink The first third is a little mickey-mousey so I usually start around the time the Hiccup/Toothless friendship is starting to bloom. Love the epic final battle material, Powell channeling X-Men 3 (which this music often sounds a lot like).

As for the final track, I'm not sure. I usually stay after the credits but I was with people who wanted to leave so I didn't get the chance to see if there was anything extra...

Angela Apr 3, 2010 (edited May 6, 2010)

I took in a second viewing tonight, and I can confirm that there is no after-credits scene.  And that the track isn't used anywhere in the film.  So it really serves more as a bonus -- the album's means of forgiveness, perhaps, for the Jónsi song that preceded it. wink 

Wanderer wrote:

The first third is a little mickey-mousey so I usually start around the time the Hiccup/Toothless friendship is starting to bloom.

Do you really think so?  Our definitions of "mickey-mousey" may vary, but I find very little in the way of abrasive, comedic undertones in the score.  There are certainly several segments of joviality throughout (See You Tomorrow is probably one of the best example), but those moments are so often blessed with any one of the extremely likeable main themes that it's hard to critique it as being overbearingly so.

Wanderer Apr 3, 2010

Do you really think so?  Our definitions of "mickey-mousey" may vary, but I find very little in the way of abrasive, comedic undertones in the score.  There are certainly several segments of joviality throughout (See You Tomorrow is probably one the best example), but those moments are so often blessed with any one of the extremely likeable main themes that it's hard to critique it as being overbearingly so.

I shouldn't say mickey-mousey. That's a little misleading. As a whole, the score doesn't especially sound like music for an animated movie, and that includes Powell's past works in the genre. However, it doesn't really gel for me until "Forbidden Friendship." That said, continued listens (and viewings of the movie) will probably change my mind, as there are a lot of layers to this music.

I think John Powell is the best graduate of the Remote Control factory. He has a unique sound whereas I can't tell Jablonsky, Zanelli, Djawadi (and so on) apart.

Wanderer Apr 4, 2010

And I can't stop listening to "Coming Back Around." Man, that is a good tune.

Angela Apr 4, 2010 (edited May 22, 2010)

Wanderer wrote:

And I can't stop listening to "Coming Back Around." Man, that is a good tune.

I love the tender piano reprisal of the Toothless/flight theme in "Where's Hiccup?"  I thought it was a pretty ballsy story choice with what they did to him at the end -- but it made for an incredibly powerful expression of symbolism in terms of their relationship.

Amazingu Apr 10, 2010

Just watched this today, and I absolutely LOVED it.
Easily one of Dreamworks's best, if not THE best (that would be a tie with Shrek 2 though).

I had to watch this in normal 2D unfortunately, but I'll more than likely see this again if I can find it in 3D somewhere (Japan isn't too big on 3D yet, at least, not where I live).

And I agree with Angie, I definitely did not see coming what they did to Hiccup in the end, but it was a very symbolic and significant thing to do.

Awesome movie!

Angela Apr 10, 2010 (edited Apr 10, 2010)

Wanderer wrote:

I think John Powell is the best graduate of the Remote Control factory. He has a unique sound whereas I can't tell Jablonsky, Zanelli, Djawadi (and so on) apart.

Clemmensen's finally got his review up on Filmtracks.  I would like to think it's because it was from a bit of prodding on my part. wink

Amazingu wrote:

Easily one of Dreamworks's best, if not THE best (that would be a tie with Shrek 2 though).

Shrek 2 takes third on my list of favorite Dreamworks animated features, but it's unquestionably the best of the series thus far.  All the same, I can't see anything in the upcoming "Forever After" topping Jennifer Saunders belting out Holding Out For A Hero at the end of part two.

Angela May 22, 2010

Eight weeks and seven viewings later (I'll let you do the math), How To Train Your Dragon finally sees the end of its theatrical run.  I'm sad to see it go; it was definitely one of the best cinematic experiences I've had in a good while.

Wanderer wrote:

That said, continued listens (and viewings of the movie) will probably change my mind, as there are a lot of layers to this music.

You said it.  The more I watched the movie, the more I realized how precise and nuanced the score really is.  The thematic layers are richly dense, yet pronounced in such a contextually incredible way; there isn't a single wasted second in the film.  Like I said, it's music storytelling at its finest, and will certainly go down as one of the brightest highlights in Powell's career.

Wanderer wrote:

And I can't stop listening to "Coming Back Around." Man, that is a good tune.

I appreciate how, in the soundtrack release, they put the final statement of the Toothless/flight theme at the end of Coming Back Around. (Right at 2:02.)  In the film, however, it's a gratifying moment coming off the lukewarm Jónsi track, and then it transitions into that specific statement as the cast roll begins proper.

Boco Oct 9, 2010

Angela wrote:

I can't wait to watch the new sixteen minute long "Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon" short.  Am I being too hopeful in thinking that John Powell composed new accompanying material?

I don't know, but I'll definitely keep my fingers crossed. big_smile

Angela Oct 10, 2010

Boco wrote:
Angela wrote:

I can't wait to watch the new sixteen minute long "Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon" short.  Am I being too hopeful in thinking that John Powell composed new accompanying material?

I don't know, but I'll definitely keep my fingers crossed. big_smile

One of Blu-ray.com's staff writers informed me that, nope, there is no new Powell material.  Instead, they've apparently spliced and edited together various cues from the existing score.  Shucks.

Boco Oct 11, 2010

Angela wrote:

One of Blu-ray.com's staff writers informed me that, nope, there is no new Powell material.  Instead, they've apparently spliced and edited together various cues from the existing score.  Shucks.

Bummer. I suppose if it's done well, then it's better than having someone else try to write music for the short. Definitely nowhere near as good as bringing back Powell though. sad

Tim JC Nov 9, 2010

I finally aquired this movie and just finished watching it. It was magnifique! I don't really know what else to say; it had it all. Now I wish I would've gone to see it at the theater. The flying sequences were such a thrill.
The first time I saw a trailer for the film on TV I thought, "Oh, a movie about dragons and camaraderie. Big deal." But it stands above the crowd and is an instant favorite. And now I, like all the kids out there, want a pet dragon!

Idolores May 18, 2012 (edited May 18, 2012)

Finally got around to seeing this with my girlfriend after Ghost in the Shell had run its' course, even though it's been stagnating on my hard drive since it's home release. I'll echo the sentiment that this is Pixar-quality, easily beating the shit out of anything Dreamworks has ever put out before.

EDIT: The only thing that I had any gripe with was how a few characters spoke in pleasant North American accents while virtually everyone else speaks in a thick Scottish brogue. This simply wouldn't happen in an isolated village like Berk.

Board footer

Forums powered by FluxBB