Saturday, July 11, 2020

Believe Care Invest: How to Train Your Dragon

Why it might be hard to identify with Hiccup:
  • It’s always tricky to establish your hero as a lovable underdog without them tipping over in the territory of being an unlovable loser. Hiccup is right on that line when we first meet him. He’s very puny, especially compared to the Vikings all around him. He’s got a squeaky voice. Everyone pities him. “You can’t lift a hammer, you can’t swing an axe,” they tell him.
  • The level of detail in this world is stunning right away, both in terms of the visuals and the narrative world-building. We begin with a paradox: “My village has been here for seven generations but every single building is new.” Then we find out why: Dragons burn it down regularly. The strange mix of Scottish and Norse culture feels new.
  • They hired Roger Deakins to help “light” the movie because they were tired of overlit CGI movies. Right away, we’re thinking, “Oh, this feels more real than a PIXAR movie.” iii. He was given a hideous name so he could frighten off gnomes and trolls, which is a unique detail.
  • Dragons are trying to kill him and everyone else. Everybody yells at him to get back inside. His father doesn’t approve of him, to put it mildly. His boss tells him “You need to stop all this.” “You just pointed to all of me.” “Yes, that’s it, stop being all of you.” He can’t get a date with the girl he likes.
  • So just when we’re saying, “I can’t invest in this loser,” he uses his inventing skills to bring down the most feared dragon of all, the Night Fury. No one’s ever done that before. Now we love him.
Five Es
  • Eat: No
  • Exercise: He’s running around when we first see him, then hauls his equipment to the edge of town.
  • Economic Activity: He’s working his job which he’s clearly good at. “I’ve been his apprentice ever since I was little …well, littler.”
  • Enjoy: Not really.
  • Emulate: “You are many things, but a dragon killer isn’t one of them.” “I just wanna be one of you guys.”
Rise above:
  • He’s ordered not to leave his job (“Stay. Put. There.”) but runs out as soon as they’re not watching him to go down a dragon.
  • …but then, once he’s downed a dragon, earning himself the job he’s always wanted, he rises above that job as well, and decides that they should all make peace with the dragons.
High five a black guy
  • No


Anonymous said...

"So just when we’re saying, “I can’t invest in this loser,”"

Aren't you exaggerating just a bit?

I remember watching this movie for the first time and I was rooting for Hiccup pretty much from the start. Funnily enough, the only thing that really annoyed me about him was that moment when Astrid is walking in front of that explosion(?) and he looks her as if in awe. Was it in slow-mo and with the background being blurred? Not sure, but it was obnoxious.

Anytime a story tries to make me feel sympathy for a character because they have an unrequited crush I tend to lose interest.

James Kennedy said...

That's Matt's hyperbolic way of speaking that even he doesn't seriously believe in. I think he believes it makes his points punchier and more tough-guy sounding but in fact it just muddies the waters.

Matt Bird said...

Instead of scurrilously accusing me of hyperbole, better you spend that time addressing these comments, sir:


For examples of “I can’t invest in this loser” in action, see every other movie starring Jay Baruchel. Just try watching five minutes of “She's Out of My League“.

James Kennedy said...

Seems they all made good points, nothing to add