Why The 'How To Train Your Dragon' Movies Are One Of The Best Trilogies You’re Not Watching
How To Train Your Dragon sounds like a tongue-in-cheek instructional video, but it's one of the top animated movie series released in the last few decades. The designation is a big deal considering fierce competition with Pixar and Disney animated films like The Incredibles 2 and Coco.
Fortunately, this DreamWorks franchise achieved new heights for the studio. Adapted from a series of fantasy children's novels and featuring breathtaking action pieces and stunning visuals, How To Train Your Dragon elicits genuine emotions about a cartoon dragon and his Viking caretaker. While the original film was well-received, the 2014 sequel surpassed all expectations. The February 2019 third installment, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, rounds out the surprisingly moving saga. And if you like this movie, check out our dragon movies list.
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The Films Are Genuinely FunnyPhoto: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
How To Train Your Dragon finds humor in unique areas of the narrative. Rather than focus on references to pop culture or other trendy jokes, the characters and the story serve to make the movies funny.
There are plenty of genuine laugh-out-loud moments to strike a perfect balance with more dramatic or emotional situations throughout the rest of the films.
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The Dragons Have Big PersonalitiesPhoto: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
On-screen dragon portrayals are challenging because some dragon iterations show intelligent and sentient creatures, while others offer bonafide monsters. Mythological origins mean filmmakers can make such representations unique to the storyline. How To Train Your Dragon animators culled inspiration from real animals.
Of this characterization, DreamWorks animator Simon Otto told Empire: "Toothless is a cross between a black panther, a bat, and a small bird of prey. He also has some snake influences in his design and his behavior is a mixture of cat, dog, horse, and a whole lot of other odd animals, such as wombats, kangaroos, etc."
Combined with incredible character designs, the dragons have powerful and multidimensional personalities that bring the movie to life.
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Animators Went To 'Flight School' To Make Scenes RealisticPhoto: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
To make flight sequences in How To Train Your Dragon authentic, animation chief Simon Otto went to extreme lengths to prepare his team. The process involved soliciting advice from ornithologists about how wings work, and taking the animation team through a kind of "flight school." The group learned about different aspects of flight to understand how flying objects interact with the air.
The result? Believable and exhilarating sequences to bring the audience directly into the action as the dragons zip through the sky.
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The Movies Tell A Very Emotional StoryPhoto: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
It's not unusual for family movies, especially animated versions, to have a few sad moments. A cartoon film that brings a single tear to your eye, however, doesn’t compare to the How To Train Your Dragon franchise. These movies are full of emotional moments and storylines crafted to pull your heartstrings in every direction.
From long-awaited family reunification scenes and sincere dialogue to truly devastating losses that feel as real as they would in live action, the franchise doesn't shy away from big feelings.
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John Powell’s Score Was Nominated For An OscarPhoto: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
John Powell already had an extensive history with DreamWorks film scores before the release of How To Train Your Dragon. The franchise, however, is widely considered his best work and received universal praise from critics and fans.
The beloved soundtrack to the first film received a coveted Oscar nomination. Powell captured the frantic nature of flying and the emotional moments that enhanced the film's atmosphere. The score even helps communicate the thoughts and emotions of the speechless dragons, intimately suggesting each expression's meaning.
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The Movies Positively Portray Persons With DisabilitiesPhoto: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
The How To Train Your Dragon movies offer a positive message about living with disabilities. One character, Gobber, lost his left arm and right leg while confronting the dragons. While other films might make him dependent on the rest of the village, this animation film takes a different approach. Gobber is not only wholly independent, but other Vikings rely on him to train new fighters, build tools, and lead them into action.
The same is true of both Toothless and Hiccup when they endure afflictions that make walking or flying impossible. They don't let their setbacks stop them. Instead, they find new ways to solve problems and embark upon adventures because particular limitations don't define them.