The Collegian
Saturday, July 04, 2020

Featured Flick: How to Train Your Dragon

So here's the deal: I'm still a kid at heart. The rest of the University of Richmond student population could claim they wanted to grow up, be mature, yada-yada, and I would still say that I love cartoons, love these new CGI animated movies, and that I especially love "How to Train Your Dragon."

In the film, a scrawny viking boy named Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, the high-pitched guy from "Knocked Up," befriends a dragon. Then, he learns how to be the unlikely hero of the village by discovering new ways to, you guessed it, train the fiery beasts. Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler step in to voice the burly adults who never listen and America Ferrera and Jonah Hill play other young vikings trying to make their mark on the dragon-slaying world.

The beautiful scenery and the breathtaking dragon flight scenes would make an amazing ride at Disney World or Universal Studios. And I saw all of this in 3-D, a technology that, when used correctly, is incredibly enhancive. I spun, swooped and soared with the dragons. The flames in the dragon battle pit nearly engulfed me and I saw the world from Hiccup's short, vulnerable perspective. The whole appeal of 3-D film is growing on me, due in no small amount, to "Avatar" and this film.

But, the producers didn't forget that this is a children's movie. So although the rocks, water and human hair look real, certain elements of the scenery are left cartoon-like and exaggerated. The humans are still rounded out, the sheep are still cotton balls with big eyes and Hiccup's dragon friend, Toothless, is like an awesome, fearsome, flying puppy dog. And the jokes are actually funny without being raunchy. This is a kid's movie that's more palatable than other similar movies today. It's cool without the eye-rolling, above-this attitude that saturated and ultimately drowned "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."

Plus, this film delivers the exhilarating ending that made watching these types of adventures so enthralling when we were younger. Perhaps the greatest thing about cartoons is that everyone expects the victorious, or at least happy, ending, so it never gets old to see the pauper get the girl - this movie is a little like "Aladdin" - or to watch an underdog overcome Goliath. That's why this is a film to watch from the 12-year-old's perspective - the one still willing to believe that miracles are possible, that being yourself will mean a happier and more successful life (hint: that's still absolutely true now) and that the things we dream up in our imagination are still as real as a final exam, though they don't always seem that way.

So grow down, wise up and enjoy an actually fun, exciting cartoon. It may be what you need this close to finals.

Contact reporter Jordan Trippeer at jordan.trippeer@richmond.edu

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