Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spreading the Awesome: Dreamwork's HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

I was so inspired by Elana's idea to spread the joy of awesome new books that I decided to spread the awesome all week long. This week, I'm going to feature my recent most favorite movie, poem, song, and television show. Yay for spreading the awesome!

Today's Awesome Topic: Dreamwork's recent movie HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.

(In case you live under a rock, here's the trailer.)

Here's why I didn't go see this movie. Look, a year ago, a movie in 3D was a big deal. I remember being able to convince my husband to see UP based on 3D alone. Now...not as big a deal. There have been too many movies (like UP) that relied more on 3D than on a good story to move the movie along. I thought the premise sounded cool...but I figured I'd wait for the DVD. Maybe.

Here's why I did go see this movie--at the last minute, and driving to the next town over to get there. Two of my students--the biggest, baddest, wrestling-team-captain, muscle-bound macho-guys--said they loved it. And more than half the class joined in.

I am so glad I went to see it.

Because it's brilliant.

You know how they say there's only something like five stories in the world, and we're constantly rewriting them? Well, this story is one of the five: outcast kid makes outcast friend and they save the world. Not that original.

But just like Harry Potter wasn't that original (Hero's Journey, anyone?) it's all about the execution. And the execution here--brilliant.

And I don't mean the execution of the CGI or animation. Because, let's be honest--most 3D films have been relying on the shiny outside to sell the movie. No--I mean the execution of the story.

Here's how I know a movie is brilliant: when I realize there's no way I could write the story, that the movie is the perfect medium for the story.

It's the little things: the way the dragon acts a little like a cat and a little like a dog and a little like something else. The way Astrid's eyes follow Hiccup's movements. The way Hiccup's father clenches his eyes and his teeth and his jaw when he thinks his son is dead.

And it's the big things: when Hiccup and Toothless face the huge monster of a dragon at the end, the camera pans down to the people on the ground, watching the battle in the clouds. And you can feel their helplessness, their hopelessness, and Hiccup's father's bitterness is something so real you can taste it. It's the way your heart leaps when Hiccup trains Toothless to fly again at the beginning of the movie, when you can feel the animal's longing for flight, and how the pain of the crash goes deeper than physical.

It's the end, when Hiccup isn't whole any more, because how can you be whole when you fight a dragon?

Do yourself a favor. Watch this movie. Then watch it again and again.

And if you still doubt me, know this: even my cartoon-hating, kid-movie-detesting husband thought it was all right.



So: Have you seen it yet? What are your thoughts?

24 comments:

India Drummond said...

I haven't seen it, but I've been hearing such good things about it that I am starting to think I should!

Theresa Milstein said...

My husband took the kids to see it when I was out of town and they all raved about it. I may have to wait for DVD. I've been curious about the books.

These 3D movies are killing me. They're so expensive. Clash of the Titan, Alice in Wonderland, and now this. The last three movies my family has seen have been 3D and the total for four people is A LOT of MONEY.

Bish Denham said...

I have not seen it, but now I'm convinced!

Matthew Rush said...

You are so right Beth. This movie IS awesome. I saw it several weeks ago and have to say it is the best family movie of the year (at least so far).

We did catch it in 3D, but I have proof that the extra effects did not matter: My 3 year old nephew would not put his 3D glasses on because he said they didn't fit, but he still loved it in all its blurriness!

Jen said...

The movie rocked! I saw it at the drive-in awhile back and enjoyed such an incredibly cute movie. They were so cute!

Great book choice!

salarsenッ said...

Beth, don't hate me. I live under a rock!!

Sounds great. Must. Get. 4. The. Kids.
Sher~

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I want to see the movie. Maybe next weekend. :)

Amanda J. said...

It is killing me that I haven't seen this yet. I really, really want to. But I'm broke. :(

Cat said...

I watched it and loved it. I like the 3D effect but what convinced me was the story. It was really worth the money.

PJ Hoover said...

Beth, OMG we saw it Sunday and I adored it. It's seriously the best movie I've seen in AGES. Loved it with all my heart.
I'm such a sap I must've cried five times.

Natalie said...

I've been meaning to see this since it came out. Maybe I'll take my girls this weekend.

Liza said...

Sounds like a plan.

Carolyn V. said...

We took all our kids to see this movie. It was great (and my little guys all sat through the movie). It was awesome! =)

Steph Su said...

If we were on Facebook right now, I'd give this post 5 million likes. I ADORE How to Train Your Dragon: it might even be one of my favorite movies of all time! And I agree with you that it was all about the execution. I initially didn't want to go see it because I thought the animation was a little weird, aka not exactly good-looking. Plus, it was about Vikings. But boy am I glad I did. I didn't see it in 3D though, but I was not disappointed.

Loved that your students loved it too, especially the big, burly ones. :)

Janet Johnson said...

I really loved this movie, too. My poor husband missed it, but maybe for date night . . .

Myrna Foster said...

I LOVED IT!

Demon Hunter said...

Haven't seen it yet but I want to. :-D

I'm getting more and more into children's literature and YA. But I usually run out to see movies in those categories sometimes.

I plan to see it soon.

Heather Zundel said...

I LOVE this movie. So so much. So in love with it. You NAILED why it was perfect for this medium. This movie has HEART, and that is what makes it stand out so well.

Guess what? It's confirmed, there is a How To Train Your Dragon sequel coming out!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I haven't seen it, but my kids loved it. I will definitely see it on DVD, though! :-)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I wasn't sure I'd see it. Now I definitely will, though maybe on DVD.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched it yet, but it looks so awesome! Am definitely watching it at the earliest possibility!

Dominique said...

I haven't seen it yet, but I so totally want to. Now I have even more of a reason. Yay. :)

Christina Farley said...

Oh my boys will totally flip over this movie!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I almost bought this book today. I hate to watch a movie without reading the book first :)