Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2010. DreamWorks Animation, Mad Hatter Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment. Screenplay by William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, based on the book by Cressida Cowell. Produced by Bonnie Arnold. Music by John Powell. Production Design by Kathy Altieri. Film Editing by Maryann Brandon, Darren T. Holmes. Academy Awards 2010. Golden Globe Awards 2010. Washington Film Critics Awards 2010.
Typical coming-of-age story with a fairy tale bent, this one takes place in a Viking kingdom where citizens have been surviving by battling dragons for centuries. Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is an outsider among his people, son of an admirable strongman (Gerard Butler) but lacking in his father’s qualities, weak and pensive where he should be impulsive and strong. He decides to commit himself to being a top-notch dragonslayer himself, until a chance encounter with one of the fire-breathing species teaches him that they make far better companions than they do foes. This is a breakthrough discovery, but it also makes his life very dangerous among his people; it soon becomes impossible to tell where the real enemy lies for him. The animation is terrific, and there are moments that are genuinely sweet, but the characters are far too familiar and the story too worn out to really make it pop. It seems that while Dreamworks is getting their animation team to work overtime on improving technology with every new project, their writing department hasn’t actually been given a financial incentive since their first animated project Antz, which this one closely resembles (among many others).