+++ Opinion +++
Animated films are often not considered real films, but in the worst case as children’s stuff with a few gags for parents who have to be dragged along, and in the best case as shallow entertainment for the whole family. What is often ignored is that animation dates back to the beginnings of the cinema medium and that some of the best films of all time are animated films.
So does the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy. All three parts of it are in fact much more of a mature, grown-up fantasy trilogy than superficial entertainment for the little ones. This may sound absurd at first, after all, the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise is and has been cannibalized with countless TV series, video games and ubiquitous merchandise for children. But none of that changes anything about the qualities of the trilogy. And they are huge.
If you want to convince yourself of this, you can find “How to Train Your Dragon” currently available as a subscription to Netflix and WOW (formerly Sky Ticket). “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is even available on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and WOW. Only “How to Train Your Dragon 3” is currently not included in any streaming service subscription, so you have to use VoD providers like Amazon.
» “How to Train Your Dragon” on Netflix
» “How to Train Your Dragon” at WOW*
The visual qualities of the series are obvious in the literal sensewhich are also in the DashFUN reviews for “How to Train Your Dragon” (“brilliant visuals”), “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (“how to train your dragon” (“often downright intoxicating visually”) and “How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Secret World” (“breathtaking eye candy “) are highlighted.
Part 1 is of course a few years old now, but it still looks better than most other animated films from the early 2010s. And that – as well as the fantastic pictures of the two sequels – is mainly due to one man: Roger Deakins.
» “How to Train Your Dragon 2” on Netflix
» “How to Train Your Dragon 2” at WOW*
» “How to Train Your Dragon 2” on Amazon Prime Video*
The camera legend (Oscars for “Blade Runner 2049” and “1917”, nominated a further 13 times) was involved as a visual consultant on all three “How to Train Your Dragon” films – and you can tell that at any time from the overwhelming image compositions.
John Powell’s film music deserves at least as much praise as the imagery of “How to Train Your Dragon”.who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the first film and also scored the music for the two sequels – while contributing significantly to some of the greatest fantasy cinema moments of recent years.
The prime example of this is the so-called test drive scenein which main character Hiccup and Toothless Dragon complete their first successful test flight while Powell’s majestic “How to Train Your Dragon” theme blares out of the speakers:
However, this scene is also a good example of how strong the content qualities of the How to Train Your Dragon series are: How the friendship between man and dragon is brought to the point here, both grow beyond themselves in an emergency situation and learn to trust each other, is simply great.
Quite apart from the fact that such a human-animal relationship is an unbeatable recipe anyway. Toothless and his fellow winged dragons make for some very amusing scenes (personal highlight: the hilarious, unsuccessful courtship dance in Part 3)but they are not cute sidekicks that were only invented because of cuddly toys and trading card games, but grow very fond of them over the course of the trilogy.
» “How to Train Your Dragon 3” on Amazon Prime Video*
The transitions between the individual films in the series, between which several years pass, are similarly successful. And so we accompany Hicks first as a teenager and finally as a young adult, who struggles with everyday (his love for Astrid) and less everyday (his responsibility as the chief of his tribe) problems, makes understandable mistakes and sometimes fails, but always in his tasks grows – that’s how good character development works!
Especially if you watch all three “How to Train Your Dragon” films relatively close together, as I did before this article, it is striking how well the drawing of the main character, but also of many supporting characters is – from Hiccup’s beginnings as an outsider in his village of Berk until the touching finale, where my whole family sat on the sofa with tears in their eyes.