Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Different Type Of Magic Carpet Ride

Sometimes movies are just magical...
I finally got to see How To Train Your Dragon. Knowing what I do about Dreamworks Animation and their slew of so-so flicks drowned in dated topical humor, I was incredibly surprised. My problems with the studio in the past can be listed thusly: 


1. originality

2. creativity

3. and vision.

When I say vision I mean foresight. It used to seem the studio couldn't look ahead and recognize how long there films would take to make. I never found the movies funny because they always came out too late for the jokes within.

This is what Pixar has succeeded at so well (among other things). An animated film must be written with a recognition of the future. What will still be funny in three years? What can we teach effectively (sometimes unnecessary, but since most animated films are made with children in mind it is in good practice to include this)? What has not been done?

Sorry Dreamworks, but talking animals who's lives have been thrown apart by some random event forcing them to learn to develop meaningful relationships doesn't count as original
or visionary.
(See any similarities?)

Unless of course there is an epic injection of quality...
but obviously this is very hard to do. Anyway, How To Train Your Dragon has broken the cycle. In an increasingly animated world Dreamworks has found what they need to actually battle Pixar in the quality war. Interesting, original stories that can survive and likely stand the test of time. I'm glad of this. It's been more than a decade since The Prince Of Egypt.
Back when Dreamworks thought they could still tell a story. Then came Shrek...
a movie that spawned a generation of pointless, mostly forgettable trash. 

Too harsh? Let's list 'em: Shark Tale, Madagascar (which I actually like), Over The Hedge, Shrek The Third, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, and lastly Monsters Vs. Aliens (I've only listed the originals with special inclusion of Shrek The Third for how frickin' bad it is).

Monsters Vs. Aliens is actually a big piece of why I wrote this article. It broke the formula (slightly) but did not manage to achieve vision. Listen to the jokes. Will they be funny in Ten years? Five? Are they actually still funny now?

So... I say go see How To Train Your Dragon. They got it... at last. A movie that will still be a movie in another decade. It doesn't try so heavy handedly to make you laugh. Rather, it charms you. And gosh darn if I can remember the last time I saw a Viking flick... oh yeah, The 13th Warrior, back in 1999. Wow. Bravo Dreamworks Animation. Keep searching the pool until you find more like this... fun, interesting, and original ideas.


  1. Flushed Away is an Aardman movie made with Dreamworks money. It is amazing. Still, I need to see How to Train Your Dragon. I've only heard amazing things.

  2. Noted and deleted. I think the rest of the article almost goes without saying. No qualms with Aardman... The Were Rabbit is a great flick etc etc. See H2TYD when you get a chance. Good times.