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How to Train Your Dragon

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Will this be a good film?

Yes.
47
59%
No.
13
16%
I might have to wait for further information.
19
24%
 
Total votes : 79

Postby IllusionOfLife » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:37 am

I must say that I absolutely loved this movie. I loved Lilo & Stitch when it came out in 2002 and I was sad to see Chris Sanders get removed from American Dog (now known as Bolt), but he's back in full form and this film was excellent. By far DreamWorks Animation's best.

I wouldn't say it was as good as Pixar's best (Finding Nemo, Ratatouille) but it was most certainly a Pixar caliber film. It was emotionally deep, it had a great script with humor that came from the story, not forced pop culture gags, and it had 3D that was truly beautiful, not just tacked on (Clash of the Titans) or riddled with gimmicks (Monsters Vs. Aliens).

This will be a day one blu-ray buy for me. And if DreamWorks ever announces sequels to this movie, I will personally drive to LA and punch Jeffery Katsenberg in the face.

EDIT:
IncredigirlVirginia wrote:I don't think he looks like Stitch at all, personally. But okay....I agree the the shoe/ sock joke is a reference, but I saw nothing else.


One of the most prominent parallels I saw was the scene where [spoil]Toothless falls, in his chains, underwater with Hiccup and Hiccup's father first saves Hiccup and then Toothless. It was very reminiscent of a certain scene where Jumba pulls Lilo and Stitch underwater and Nani first saves Lilo then David goes back to save Stitch.[/spoil]
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Postby thedriveintheatre » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:19 am

In Lilo and Stitch, Stitch was designed to, amongst other things, steal everyone's left shoe.

Wow, I didn't notice that, but come to think of it, I think I did hear the "left shoe" line in L&S! Maybe it's time for a rewatch of L&S before going to see Dragon again!

I know all of you think that Toothless resembles Stitch, but really, I think he resembles an Axolotl more.

Ha! Axolotls! I remember they were the inspiration for Mudkips and I can see the resemblance.

lizardgirl - Great and balanced review! I don't really remember what points or jokes were repeated, so you'll have to jog my memory on that. I agree Toothless' animation was the highlight of the movie. I don't really think Hiccup is a stereotype, more of an archetype. There's only so many variations you can have on a hero, and I think Hiccup stood out from the usual "whiny wimp" role by having a good sense of sarcasm and self-depreciation.

The difference in accents was a bad point a lot of reviewers have brought up, so you're not the only one. :) I, too, thought it kinda weird, but like for Kung Fu Panda, I didn't think too much about it. I did like Jay's impersonation of a Scottish accent near the beginning when Hiccup was mocking the adults to Gobber. 8D

As for it being predictable, yeah, it pretty much was. You know H and T won't be enemies by the end of the film, something romantic will happen with Astrid, and there's probably going to be a final showdown where they'll prove their worth (which has been spoiled in the trailers). I think the biggest twist was at the end, and I'm very proud Dreamworks courageously went that route instead of the "The hero wins and everything is alright" cliche.

I'd rate it pretty close to Wall-E and Ratatouille, and better than Cars or Up. It's not particularly thought-provoking or heart-wrenching as the best of Pixar, but it certainly has its moments, and can stand to some pretty rich film-student analysis (as an Iraq War parable, fear of the 'Other', Orientalism, etc.). :)

One of the most prominent parallels I saw was the scene where...

Good one, didn't spot that too!
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Postby lizardgirl » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:32 pm

Thanks, thedriveintheatre. I see what you mean about Hiccup, and yet he still irritated me incredibly. Maybe it was his humour and sarcasm- not bad things in themselves, they definitely make him more likeable, but at the same time they make him so difficult to believe in as a real human being that's apparently related to his father. And though the bit with him doing the Scottish accent was funny, I did really feel very confused with Dreamworks' motives there- I mean, he was doing an impersonation of pretty much everyone around him apart from the other kids. When they grow up, do they suddenly develop thick Scottish accents?

It's probably just because he was (and I don't mean it to sound the way it's going to) very American in his personality and character, and I just don't think it's suited the tone of the film at all. It was like Dreamworks were too scared to go all the way, and it's a real shame I think.

Close to WALL-E or Ratatouille? Everyone's allowed to voice their own opinion, I completely appreciate that, so don't take this personally or anything, but I really am not that keen on Ratatouille as far as Pixar films go, and despite that I'd rate Ratatouille as being several levels higher than How to Train Your Dragon. But yeah, it's just personal preference at the end of the day.

One thing I really didn't get though was the final showdown thing. [spoil]The entire movie, Hiccup progressed and progressed, showing how he'd learnt that dragons really weren't that bad, but then when it comes to encountering the giant dragon, his first instinct is still "let's kill it!" So all dragons aren't that bad apart from this one? Oh yes, this is the one that's making the other dragons be bad...So this isn't actually a film about how it's in the dragons' nature to steal food and that sort of thing, it's about how when someone does something bad, don't assume it's because they want to, but first make sure that someone else isn't forcing them and sort THEM out.[/spoil] I would've been so impressed if Dreamworks had created a villain-less film, but it seemed like they were struggling with the storyline and hence came up with this extra bit so as to fill out the end and make it have more of a satisfying conclusion. So the idea of it being analysed in terms of fear of the 'other' just doesn't work, because the message is, inadvertently, that there SHOULD still be fear of the 'other'.

I definitely agree with you about what happened to Hiccup at the end, though, that was a real change from the norm and it showed that he isn't completely infalible and perfect. And I did adore Toothless. I actually came home and gave my cat an extra massive hug because Toothless reminded me of her, somewhat. :lol:

And despite my above criticisms, I DID enjoy it. I'm just talking about the stuff I wasn't so keen on, but there was a lot of good stuff there.
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Postby Czarine » Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:02 pm

I prefer to not compare movies with other movies in such a way. It's hard to come up with something original nowadays, so of course it's been done already. All I really care about is the movie itself and how I experienced it.

And actually, Hiccup's cynicism, humor and sarcasm actually appealed to me, but maybe that's because I could really identify myself with him (yes... IRL I''m a very non-likeable guy that makes sarcastic remarks about basically everything, no I don't have many friends where I live :? ) I'm quite much of a loner/outcast myself, even having comparable struggles with my parents. So yeah...

Meh.
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Postby Mykonos_Fan » Sat Apr 24, 2010 2:50 am

I felt this was an amazing movie. Maybe I'm just not used to Dreamworks making movies I fall in love with, but if the rest of their films are made with the same care that obviously went into this one, there just might be another animation studio whose movies I religiously watch. :lol: I'm willing to look past films like Shark Tale (No offense to those who liked it, I just could never get into it or many DW films) if the rest are like this.

Also, for the whole "Hiccup didn't seem very Scottish/Viking" thing, I'd like to point out that Alfredo Linguini didn't exactly have the most French voice in Ratatouille. Same goes for any of the rats, really. Unless there's a very English-sounding division of French accents I'm un-aware of, which is entirely possible.
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Postby thedriveintheatre » Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:10 am

at the same time they make him so difficult to believe in as a real human being that's apparently related to his father

Actually that reminded me of Remy and Django in a way. They couldn't be more different!

When they grow up, do they suddenly develop thick Scottish accents?

That kinda bothered me too. I suppose it's like a generation gap thing. But again, that doesn't make sense, since there was no foreigner-exposure and they were in their native land, so where did they pick up the different accent?

It was like Dreamworks were too scared to go all the way, and it's a real shame I think.

Yeah, it's a bit annoying. I mentioned I wasn't really perturbed likewise with Kung Fu Panda, but upon further reflection, Maggie Q and Jackie Chan as Asian actors didn't get much lines as supporter characters either... I guess the reality is that they have to appeal to as broad an audience base as possible, in this case, American adolescents. The same thing happened with Ratatouille. Mulan and Pocahontas are the only two exceptions I can think of where the protagonists are voiced by native speakers.

As for the final showdown, I also was a bit surprised with the sudden shift in moral values, but then I thought of it as a parable for understanding your enemy's motivations first. They may be driven by an autocratic ruler, competing for economic resources, or it could be just plain old jingoism. In the case of Dragons, [spoil]it's a ruthless dictator, a la Saddam or Hitler. So instead of fighting the dragons, the Viking had to realise they had a common enemy in the queen dragon, and help their winged friends 'liberate' themselves from oppression.[/spoil]

Another way to look at is that the [spoil]queen dragon is a visual metaphor for a political idealogy or religion, and that the two sides must unite to defeat it (So like the unification of Germany after the fall of Communism for example). The fact that the 'Green Death' is a member of the 'other' doesn't mean that the rest of them share its beliefs (just like how not all Germans or Japanese supported the Axis powers during World War 2).[/spoil]

Wow, I can write an entire thesis on this movie! Which is really, the mark of a great film. :P

I'm quite much of a loner/outcast myself, even having comparable struggles with my parents.

Ditto that. I guess the films that touch you the most are the ones you can relate to.

I'm willing to look past films like Shark Tale (No offense to those who liked it, I just could never get into it or many DW films) if the rest are like this.

I'm a Shark Tale fan, but none taken. :) It's a fun parody but a dumb film. I really hope DW keeps their act up for Shrek 4 and Megamind, but I think it won't be likely. And as much as I'd like to see the further adventures of Hiccup and Toothless, I really don't want a sequel to this. It's like Avatar, the ending is perfect. It even ends with the title card!

EDIT: Just want to point this out before I forget, but there's another L&S reference I realized: Does the part where [spoil]Toothless spits half a fish out remind you of Stitch and the chocolate cake?[/spoil] ;)
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Postby lizardgirl » Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:44 pm

Ratatouille does suffer from the same accent problems, I agree- one of the many reasons why Ratatouille doesn't rank highly in my favourite Pixar features.

Some great points there thedriveintheatre, it's definitely possible to see How To Train Your Dragon in many different ways, and that's why it's going to stand the test of time in a way that some of Dreamworks' other features probably won't.
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Postby Czarine » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:53 pm

When they grow up, do they suddenly develop thick Scottish accents?

That kinda bothered me too. I suppose it's like a generation gap thing. But again, that doesn't make sense, since there was no foreigner-exposure and they were in their native land, so where did they pick up the different accent?


The accent thing is actually rather plausible. I live in Brabant, the south of the Netherlands, in a small town isolated from the outside world (really, it's miles and miles and miles of farms beyond the town's borders). All the old people that have lived here for all of there life have VERY strong dialects, I can't even understand them sometimes. But their children, while still sharing the same dialect, are not nearly as unintelligible. And their children, well, I talk with them every day, and there's not much of an accent left.

The reason of this is unknown to me, because all our school teachers and elders still have the same unintelligible dialect. It could be because of the media, which couldn't be the reason in the case of HTTYD, but who says they didn't have influences from the outside? If it's an isolated island in the ocean, how would they have gotten the sheep, for example? They must have come from somewhere, organisms can't just appear out of thin air.

Vikings traveled a great deal, apparently they even went to America before Columbus ever set foot there, so I'm quite sure they did have outside influences... but in what way this affected the children's accents, I don't know.

I strongly doubt the creators of the film went that deep with the whole Scottish accent thing, but... it's still plausible that they had influences from the outside. Foreign exposure is an option. Just because it wasn't featured in the movie (it wouldn't even fit the story, in this case), doesn't mean there was no foreign exposure at all.
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Postby aerostarmonk » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:13 pm

It's fairly obvious that the Scottish accent thing is a rite of passage that occurs just before adulthood. There's a big ceremony and everything.

"Hiccup, now that you're seventeen I think it's time you started slurring your words."

"Really? I've waited my whole life for this day!"

"You've earned it son!"

And that my friends was the dumbest joke of the day.

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Postby Czarine » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:10 pm

Whoohooo, now my sarcastic remarks will sound even funnier! :roll:
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How To Train Your Plotholes

Postby aerostarmonk » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:58 pm

Was anyone else incredibly bothered by the fact that [spoiler]Hiccup had to gain the trust of Toothless to even approach him and Toothless wasn't exactly sure how complicit Hiccup was in injuring him. Then Hiccup spent what possibly be seemed like weeks to learn everything about dragons and went through a rather rigorous and intense routine of exercises to get Toothless to fly. I imagine that the trial flights would've been just as difficult with or without the whole damaged tail thing. Yet at the climax of the movie during the Big Dang Heroes moment, the rest of the group of kids are flying dragons like pros more or less with none of the kind of hard work Hiccup put in with Toothless. Flying dragons that were aware of being beaten up and imprisoned by these very same kids and/or the rest of the inhabitants of their village. These same dragons fly these kids to Dragon Volcano Island or whatever, something that Hiccup didn't discover until Toothless trusted him completely, and then engage in battle with the Queen Dragon which now for some reason they aren't afraid of despite nothing to really make them do so other than being involved at the plot at that point. [/spoiler]

I really loved this movie. It's my fave movie so far this year. But what gives? Really, what gives?
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Postby thedriveintheatre » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:01 am

Czarine - Thanks for sharing your experience... hm... very interesting. Maybe they have cable in their huts? :P But yeah, maybe the kids picked up the accents from traders or explorers returning from 'The New World'.

Interesting points, aerostarmonk. The way I see it, [spoil]the dragons could've been wanting to tell the Vikings all along about The Queen Dragon, but are too busy defending themselves from the Vikings with their narrow-minded worldview. It took a pacifist kid to explain to his friends the true situation, and once the dragons knew Hiccup's friends understood, they were willing to take them to Dragon Island.

Or, Hiccup needed a lot of time to do the unprecedented; learning the tips and tricks to get a dragon to obey him. Once he discovered the 'secrets' (dragon catnip, scratching behind the ears, etc.), they can be very easily applied to instantly 'tame' the dragons (as demonstrated by him in the training montages). They showed Snotloud 'taming' the Monstrous Nightmare within seconds, so it wouldn't be a stretch for the rest to do the same too.

Or, Toothless could've told them in Dragonese to lay off and cooperate with the humans to defeat the queen dragon. It would've been clearer if they actually showed Toothless convincing his kind (and it would've been quite amusing, to boot), but I guess they implied it to cut the runtime.[/spoil]

It's up to the viewer interpretation. But I have to agree with you they could've made it look much less like a 'convenient plot device' and tried to make it look more convincing.

.....

I think I'll have some free time in the afternoon to go for my second and last viewing in theatres, and what better way to send it off than with the final 3D screening at the biggest Imax cinema in the world? I hope this will be good. :)
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Postby nintendofreakgcn » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:00 am

Regarding aerostarmonk's issue, [spoiler]a comparison between the flight patterns of Toothless and the other dragons in the climax will show a clear difference. For some reason, the flight scenes in this movie compel me to make Star Fox references, so I'll go with it (though imagining any flight-based shooter would probably work). Basically, the others kids are flying their dragons like the AI flies the standard grunt ships - competently, but very, very simplistically. There are no fancy tricks here, and it explains why none of them do all that well. Compare this to Hiccup on Toothless, who's basically the player performing high-speed somersaults, dives, u-turns, barrel rolls, and various other maneuvers that would make Wolf O'Donnel go "What the heck?" There really is no comparison.

Even what little skill the other kids show is simple enough to explain, as it's basically doing the dragons doing the flying, with just a little bit of jerking guidance. Compare this to Hiccup, who, as the film clearly shows, had to develop a fairly complex system to both make Toothless able to fly at all, and be able to control him. The fact that Hiccup and Toothless are able to eventually do all this instinctively is a key part of the plot, but the other dragon hadn't sustained the injuries that made this a necessity. Of course, this limits the awesomeness of the others, so it balances out.

As for why the other dragons were able to accept the other kids so much more quickly, that can be explained with a few educated guesses. First, it's important to realise that the arena dragons weren't in as bad an arrangement as you might think. Sure, being imprisoned is nasty at the best of times, but those dragons would have been well-fed (Gobber clearly had no intention of going easy on the kids, so he'd want a healthy dragon), and wouldn't have had to worry about getting eaten by the queen. Obviously, the Monstrous Nightmare would be facing death eventually, but it essentially took tries to get him on side anyway. Also note that the arena dragons (with the exception of the little Terrible Terror, who is irrelevant to this discussion) only attack after some sort of potentially threatening gesture had been made. All in all, while the plan was certainly crazy (and acknowledged as such), it could potentially work, especially since Hiccup had done a pretty good job of matching up kids with dragons.

Now, when we compare this to Toothless, we see a very different situation. He's been badly wounded and left to die. Some kid comes up, points a knife at him, and makes some rather threatening comments that Toothless would at least understand based on tone. Even just on the surface, Toothless isn't going to recover from that sort of psychological trauma all that quickly. But here's where we get to my main educated guess, that also quite nicely fits a slightly different problem I had with the movie. Basically, I propose that Toothless knew that Hiccup shot him down. If we assume that Toothless understands human words, then this is easily explained, but even if we don't, there are any number of ways he might know.

If we assume this scenario to be true, then the dragon's violent reaction to being freed becomes even more understandable. Toothless wouldn't just think that the boy who shot him down would be freeing him out of the goodness of his heart, so he acts in self-defence, moving more for the kill. Why then, didn't Toothless kill Hiccup? Because the boy looked just as frightened as he was. With all the similarities of experience shown between the pair, this makes a certain thematic sense. If we assume these last two paragraphs to be true, then Toothless is going to be reluctant to form a friendship with Hiccup, much like the latter initially aimed to not show himself to the former in their next encounter. The fact that it is always Hiccup making the first move is testament to his inner courage, something that he had to give to Toothless as surely as the prosthetic tail wing.[/spoiler]

Well, that took longer than I though it would, but I hope it fixes some of your issues. Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, I am doing an English major at university, and am not only hoping to do honours, but am intending to base my thesis around animated films and/or TV series.
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Postby thedriveintheatre » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:02 pm

I think you have a very bright future as a thesis-writer, nintendo. :) Very good points raised, and I'd just like to add my two cents worth:

[spoil]The point about Hiccup and Toothless sharing a deeper bond and hence better coordination than their friends totally makes sense, something which I also noticed during my repeat viewing.

As for why the other dragons were so willing to go along with Hiccup's friends, that can be explained. If you watch Hiccup's third encounter with Toothless (the one where they share a fish), you can see he tries to distance and dissociate himself from the "other Vikings" (leaving the shield behind, dropping his weapon, bringing an olive branch, or rather a fish). Once he has established himself as a non-threat, Toothless instantly warms up to him. He tries the same trick with the Monstrous Nightmare, but was unfortunately interrupted by Stoick. When he tries the second time, he intentionally leads the Nightmare to Snotloud, and by association, the dragon realizes Hiccup's friends are also non-enemies. The other dragons have all been 'tamed' by Hiccup, as seen in the various montages, so naturally, they accept Hiccup's friends too.

As already mentioned, I also like how Hiccup had to proactively win over Toothless. Granted, it was a little too convenient seeing Toothless is essentially a wild (but very intelligent) animal whose kind has never been domesticated before, and the progression of their relationship in 'Forbidden Friendship' was a little fast, but I guess that's what makes it all the more amazing, that had their kind not been at war with each other, they would've actually been fast friends.

I also think Hiccup may understand English. It's no coincidence he followed the dragons to the Green Death's island, again something I noticed on a rewatch. When Astrid whispers to Hiccup about killing his first dragon, Toothless instantly reacts and decides to reveal to his friends the true reason behind the dragons' raids by changing course. Maybe some viewers would've been picked this up the first time, but I didn't, and it was a revelation that Hiccup has an impressive human vocabulary, or at least is a great reader of body language.[/spoil]

.....

For my second and last theatrical viewing, I thought it fitting to send Dragons off on its final screening at the "biggest IMAX cinema in the world", the LG Imax Theatre at Darling Harbour. It is was a much more pleasant experience than my first because the crowd was bigger (it was a public holiday, and there were more families among the audience), I went alone (my friends kept talking for my first viewing) and of course, it's freakin' 3D IMAX. Actually to be honest, they cheated a bit, since it was not shot using Imax dimensions, it was letterboxed, so only like four-fifths of the screen was used. It is still pretty big, but it didn't exactly stretch from floor to ceiling like I imagined it to.

Once again, the action sequences are simply breathtaking on the big screen. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you simply have to watch this at least once in the cinema to fully appreciate the fight and battle scenes. No doubt this has something to do with Roger Deakins' lighting and the direction of whoever is the cinematographer (who I would really like to know and shake his/her hand); you really feel like you're swooping and floating in the skies. Coupled with John Powell's grand orchestral soundtrack, and it's simply sublime.

Again, I'll be frank and say that the glasses kinda 'muddied' the image and sometimes you can see ghost images if you're not looking at it point blank (I was lucky enough to have a seat in the middle last row, but even then the intersections are not perfect). I think the theatre used 'RealD' technology, so something to bear in mind for future viewers.

But other than these minor annoyances, it was a fantastic experience to relive the adventure again, and unlike Up and like Avatar, it really does deserve the 3D treatment. I haven't been this impressed by an animated film since... Wall-E, actually. Really, I don't know why. Up, Ratatouille, and all the greats may be more intellectual than Dragons, but this Dreamworks number just stole my heart and ran a home run with it. I absolutely love it, and it's currently soaring among my favourite films of all-time. :) :) :)
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Postby Czarine » Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:17 pm

nintendofreakgcn wrote:Regarding aerostarmonk's issue, [spoiler]a comparison between the flight patterns of Toothless and the other dragons in the climax will show a clear difference. For some reason, the flight scenes in this movie compel me to make Star Fox references, so I'll go with it (though imagining any flight-based shooter would probably work). Basically, the others kids are flying their dragons like the AI flies the standard grunt ships - competently, but very, very simplistically. There are no fancy tricks here, and it explains why none of them do all that well. Compare this to Hiccup on Toothless, who's basically the player performing high-speed somersaults, dives, u-turns, barrel rolls, and various other maneuvers that would make Wolf O'Donnel go "What the heck?" There really is no comparison.

Even what little skill the other kids show is simple enough to explain, as it's basically doing the dragons doing the flying, with just a little bit of jerking guidance. Compare this to Hiccup, who, as the film clearly shows, had to develop a fairly complex system to both make Toothless able to fly at all, and be able to control him. The fact that Hiccup and Toothless are able to eventually do all this instinctively is a key part of the plot, but the other dragon hadn't sustained the injuries that made this a necessity. Of course, this limits the awesomeness of the others, so it balances out.

As for why the other dragons were able to accept the other kids so much more quickly, that can be explained with a few educated guesses. First, it's important to realise that the arena dragons weren't in as bad an arrangement as you might think. Sure, being imprisoned is nasty at the best of times, but those dragons would have been well-fed (Gobber clearly had no intention of going easy on the kids, so he'd want a healthy dragon), and wouldn't have had to worry about getting eaten by the queen. Obviously, the Monstrous Nightmare would be facing death eventually, but it essentially took tries to get him on side anyway. Also note that the arena dragons (with the exception of the little Terrible Terror, who is irrelevant to this discussion) only attack after some sort of potentially threatening gesture had been made. All in all, while the plan was certainly crazy (and acknowledged as such), it could potentially work, especially since Hiccup had done a pretty good job of matching up kids with dragons.

Now, when we compare this to Toothless, we see a very different situation. He's been badly wounded and left to die. Some kid comes up, points a knife at him, and makes some rather threatening comments that Toothless would at least understand based on tone. Even just on the surface, Toothless isn't going to recover from that sort of psychological trauma all that quickly. But here's where we get to my main educated guess, that also quite nicely fits a slightly different problem I had with the movie. Basically, I propose that Toothless knew that Hiccup shot him down. If we assume that Toothless understands human words, then this is easily explained, but even if we don't, there are any number of ways he might know.

If we assume this scenario to be true, then the dragon's violent reaction to being freed becomes even more understandable. Toothless wouldn't just think that the boy who shot him down would be freeing him out of the goodness of his heart, so he acts in self-defence, moving more for the kill. Why then, didn't Toothless kill Hiccup? Because the boy looked just as frightened as he was. With all the similarities of experience shown between the pair, this makes a certain thematic sense. If we assume these last two paragraphs to be true, then Toothless is going to be reluctant to form a friendship with Hiccup, much like the latter initially aimed to not show himself to the former in their next encounter. The fact that it is always Hiccup making the first move is testament to his inner courage, something that he had to give to Toothless as surely as the prosthetic tail wing.[/spoiler]

Well, that took longer than I though it would, but I hope it fixes some of your issues. Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, I am doing an English major at university, and am not only hoping to do honours, but am intending to base my thesis around animated films and/or TV series.


[spoiler]Exactly, Hiccup was a much more skilled flyer than the rest of the bunch. And Toothless' injury did matter, by the way.. Toothless already knew how to fly, but is now handicapped because of missing half of his tail wing. As you could see in the movie, Toothless wasn't able to fly anymore by himself and depended on Hiccup for that. It's like revalidation in a clinic when someone lost a leg and needs to learn how to walk all over again with an artificial leg. Hiccup needed to learn how to operate the artificial tail wing as well, because he is the one that's steering the thing, right? Also, the little mechanism he built for it wasn't perfect from the start, it had many faults. He was tweaking it in between flight training, which also explains the amount of time it took to master flying again.

So yeah, that might explain the kids flying the dragons so easily.[/spoiler]

My 2 cents.

Also, TDIT:

[spoiler]I don't think Toothless reacted on Astrid and Hiccup's conversation about having to kill a dragon. I think he just noticed his fellow dragons going back to the nest and he sped down to hide in the mist/clouds and blend in with them to not stand out and not to endanger his new friends. Toothless was obviously surprised as well when he noticed the dragons (that's why Hiccup asked him what was going on, something was obviously going wrong). I could have misunderstood this part though, but this is my interpretation of the whole event. :)[/spoiler]


I hope I cleared up some things here. This is my point of view after 4 theatrical viewings and numerous online movie observations (I think I have a total of 10+ viewings, plus some additional viewings of specific scenes). I'm not saying I'm an expert, but I'm just saying I know the movie by heart... or at least my interpretation of it. :) I think my POV is at least worth something.
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