How To Train Your Dragon
Death Race 38, Sarah 18; 1 of 24 categories completed
We decided to side with it early on, when we heard Jay Baruchel's voice, and after the "…Astrid [choir of angels / slo-mo]" moment, but all three of us climbed into the tank for How to Train Your Dragon the minute it became clear that the filmmaking team had based most of the dragons' movements and behaviors on cats. When the little one curled up next to Hiccup and started purring, Mr. S wailed, "FINE, movie, WE LOVE YOU, now QUIT IT." And: seriously. A catlike creature named "Toothless"? I have one of those!
We only had one teeny quibble, that it's not entirely clear what the relationship is between the regular dragons and the queen/dictator dragon, but calling it a quibble isn't really accurate, because in the end we didn't give a shit. Stoick approaching Toothless on that rocky jetty, with the clouds of battle hanging over him…man, that scene's a killer. Several of the chase sequences feel real enough that I had to watch through my fingers, which put me in mind of The Incredibles, and the animation is gorgeous; DreamWorks is really bringing it. (We're also obsessed with the illustrations in the dragon manual. Do those come from the original book?)
But can it beat Toy Story 3? Well, it's a solid movie that stands alone, and doesn't depend on its audience having loved its characters for well over a decade — but I think TS3 still works just as well for people new to the franchise, has just as nail-biting a thriller sequence, and reduced me to a sobbing mess at the end. I think Best Animated Feature is TS3's to lose, which is too bad, because H2TYD is damn good.
Original Score, though: maybe. It's a sweet score with a light touch, and it does lots of different things. That said, I liked Social Network's score a bit better. So, not sure Dragon wins any Oscars, but it's a completely worthwhile watch.
Tags: How To Train Your Dragon Jay Baruchel movies Mr. Stupidhead orange cats Oscars 2011 Death Race