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Old June 11th, 2014, 09:37 PM #1
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Dreamworks's Dragons Franchise

From the movies, to the shorts, to the TV series, and of course, the books.

I'm sad to say I never watched the first movie but I heard people say nothing but great things about it. I did watch a bit of the TV series and was enthralled in its world and characters. So then I watched the 2nd movie the other night.

Loved it, though I think I would've loved it more if I watched the 1st movie beforehand.
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Old June 12th, 2014, 05:32 AM #2
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I started with the first movie, then the shorts, then the TV series. I've skimmed the books, but honestly, I prefer the movieverse.

I'm really looking forward to seeing HTTYD2. From all the previews I've seen, it looks like it's gonna be awesome!
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Old June 12th, 2014, 06:02 AM #3
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What's nice is that Cowell at least gave go aheads, approved, and even personally made some changes for the movie-verse. So it's not an example of a studio screwing up a story in adaptation.

I also like they handle their TV series in that you don't need to watch it and the shorts to watch the 2nd movie, but you can certainly appreciate it more if you did.
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Old June 14th, 2014, 03:06 PM #4
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I just watched the 2nd movie yesterday. LOVED it! Toothless was so cute when Hiccups' mom unlocked his back spikes, or whatever they're called. He's like "look at me! I have something new and cool!" XD

There's gonna be a 3rd season to the tv series that will be on Netflix next year. (and that's the last of CN's shows that are on my watch list) And there's gonna be a 3rd movie coming out in maybe 2016.

I'm planning on reading the books eventually. I believe Cowell said that the book and the movies' endgame will be the same or similar.
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Old June 14th, 2014, 04:07 PM #5
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I heard that the ending of the entire franchise is gonna be a downer, so I'm getting into this while I have the chance. I just watched the first movie and the first 7 episodes of the show so far. I'll be giving my thoughts on each entry until the 2nd movie.

Question though, if the show is meant to be in-between movies, where does that leave Season 3, which won't be on Netflix until 2015?
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Old June 17th, 2014, 08:18 AM #6
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With Season 1 of the show wrapped up for me, I think I'll get this started. While starting with the first movie would be nice, I think that, given its relevancy and people still watching (When they're not watching 22 Jump Street), and being the one that really got me on board this franchise, I'll be starting with...
------------------------------
How to Train Your Dragon 2

(HERE BE SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN HTTYD2. Or for those who saw 22 Jump Street instead.)


A. How To Come Forward and Confess
1. Until recently, I actually didn't watch the first movie. When it first came out in 2010 I didn't care about it and thought it looked like another forgettable Dreamworks movie. Learned later how very wrong I was, and I was finally able to watch it shortly after I watched HTTYD2. But the very least I did before watching HTTYD2 is look up a summary of HTTYD1 and be familiar with the basic events of the first movie before going into the second.

2. Though I didn't watch HTTYD1, I did watch the first five or so episodes of the TV show Riders of Berk, giving me some knowledge of the franchise. Keyword being some, as the only things I remembered were Hiccup, Toothless, and Astrid. I remembered there were three other kids but I never learned their names or the dragons they rode.

B. How to Give My Thoughts on HTTYD2
As I said, prior to last week I didn't watch HTTYD1, but I became aware of the basics of that movie and did some research on the franchise; how it's based off a book series but is extremely different (Some say which is for the better, which author Cresedia Cowell also feels).

To summarize my feelings of HTTYD2, I felt that it was a very fun and enjoyable movie that I think can appeal to both children and adults. The children can get entertained by the pretty colors and high paced action, while the adults get sucked into the world, the characters, their relationships, their story, and their drama. A few slow moments and a rather weak villain hamper it a bit, but it's a fun ride from start to finish that makes you yearn for more. The characters are entertaining and competent, the story makes a few surprises here and there, the animation as usual is top-notch, and the design of this world and the dragons are extremely creative. But I think the ones who will really love it are the fans of the franchise because of the changes that have happened after HTTYD1 and the Riders/Defenders of Berk.

C. How to Talk About Main Characters
Five years have passed in-between the first and second movies, and we can clearly see that through the characters. Hiccup has matured from a weedy, nervous teenager into a fully confident and fearless young adult who loves flying on his dragon Toothless. At the same time his new-found confidence does not make him completely arrogant. He is just much more determined to finish and see things through. Something good that can be said about him is that he sticks by his morals and values, as exemplified when he goes against his parents wishes and tries to talk Drago out of fighting. Sure, in the end, it doesn't amount to much, but it also shows that he's willing to change his stance and go with the flow. Hiccup's bond with Toothless is even more exemplified and both are utterly inseparable compared to the first movie and TV show. Toothless of course doesn't talk, but he gives as much emotion as any other human character in the movie. The human and the dragon are loyal companions and will do anything and sacrifice anything for each other, as shown when Hiccup wasn't afraid to touch a mind-controlled and violent Toothless. These two are the core of the movie, and it is done extremely well. If I can give one minor nitpick, it's that Hiccup does quite a lot of speechifying in this movie, but it didn't really bother me much. This is where I found the movie to be a little cheesy, as a lot of Hiccups speeches can just simply be summarized as "Humans and Dragons together are the most awesomet thing ever".

Another changed character from the first movie is Hiccup's love interest, Astrid. In the first movie, her character was shown to be tough, abrasive, and bossy towards her peers, especially Hiccup. In the TV show she still showed such traits, but she became friendlier and optimistic. This transition is complete in the second movie, where Astrid may still be tough, but she is friendly towards everybody and even has a dark sense of humor. Hiccup's and Astrid's relationship is taken to the next level where she is supportive of whatever he does, and they make playful banter in quiet moments of the movie. Though they do not say it in the movie, the two are clearly a couple, and seeing them together on-screen is very adorable. What I especially like is that, with both now in a mutual relationship, there is no forced love drama that interrupts the flow of the movie. I certainly hope that when this movie series ends, both will end up married.

Stoick, Hiccup's father, also changed from the first movie. The man who once hated and loathed dragons now fully accepts them and is supportive of what Hiccup does, except for a few moments. The interpersonal conflict between the two in this movie is Stoick making Hiccup the new chief of Berk, while Hiccup is unsure of what he wants to do. At the same time Stoick clearly learned from the last movie to try and give his son much more leeway. If there is any conflict between the two, it's only because Stoick is being the responsible chief and looking after his people. Stoick's friendship with the blacksmith Gobber still carries over, but what provides a new dynamic is Stoick's wife, Velka. We discover in backstory that Velka was against killing dragons, and that a lot of Stoick's original hatred of the creatures came from Velka being kidnapped by one when Hiccup was just a baby. But it is clear that Hiccup's skills came from his mom, and she is shown to be as much of a lover of dragons as well. One of my best moments of the movie is when Stoick reunites with Velka. Instead of being angry with her, Stoick and Velka tearfully reunite and are a family again with Hiccup. It's a wonderful, happy scene with just the right amount of drama and not going overboard that turns it sappy and cheesy. It's a shame it doesn't last, but more on that later.

D. How to Talk About Secondary Characters
I was slightly disappointed that Hiccup's other friends didn't get a lot of moments, but that's to be expected when you have a one-two hour movie as opposed to a three season TV show. They do not have as much screen time, but they are definitely in the movie and have their moments. It's just great to see them again and also grown up and matured. The female twin in particular is memorable because she provided a lot of the humor of the movie, ignoring the advances of the two males and instead falling for a new character, the dragon trapper Eret. He starts out as a good secondary villain, but through a series of circumstances he becomes a comrade of the characters and it's nice to see fake the bad guys and join with the main characters.

E. How to Be Disappointed by the Villain
Unfortunately, the villain didn't exactly blow me away, and is one of my major criticisms of the movie. In the first movie there wasn't an overarching villain per se, there was just an evil dragon. Here though the villain is the sinister Drago Bludvist. The adults and Eret spoke of Drago, describing him as an insane madman that won't stop at anything to destroy everything in his path with a fearsome armada and an army of dragons. We would learn later on that Drago lost his family and home to dragons. While his design looks awesome and his voice is done extremely well, he doesn't really do a whole lot and is rather hypocritical in his actions. He spoke of wanting to rid the world of dragons, but he then decides to take over the world. He wants to use dragons, but is willing to do away with them once he accomplishes his goals. I will grant him the fact that he is skilled enough to tame a gigantic Alpha dragon, but I just find him rather dull with no shades of gray and no complexity beyond a standard tragic backstory and a lost arm. It makes a lot of Hiccup's speechifying all the more annoying because it fell on deaf ears.

F. How to Love the Story and the Drama
The story of the movie is much more straightforward than the first movie, and some may argue that it takes away lot of the "heart" from the first movie. However, I argue that makes this movie all the more different and for the better. This movie has the protagonist continue his development by maturing into a man, but still unsure of what he really wants to do. There is still definitely heart in this movie, like Hiccup's relationship with Astrid, and his familial drama. With dragons as an established thing now, this movie builds upon the TV show and showcases tons of creative and unique dragon designs, from tiny cute baby dragons, dragons of different colors and sizes, and huge gigantic dragons that definitely seem enormous on the big screen. If the first movie showcased the beginnings of humans changing their ways to accept dragons into their daily lives, this movie shows the result of that. The dragons and the humans have formed an inseparable bond. The characters are so memorable that you get sucked into their drama, and when they go through hardships, you really feel for them.

This is exemplified in one of the major moments of the movie, and where I thought the movie was originally going to go. At a crucial point in the movie, Drago seizes control of all the dragons and mind controls Toothless. Toothless shoots a blast at Hiccup, but at the last second Stoick takes it, and is killed. At the movie's bleakest moment, Stoick is given a Viking funeral, all the dragons are lost, and their home of Berk falls to Drago. I actually thought that movie would end right then and there, ending a la The Empire Strikes Back, the characters defeated and downtrodden, and all being lost except for one glimmer of hope and determination. If the movie had actually ended there, I would've loved it.

But instead we got a final climax where Hiccup overcomes Drago, rescues the dragons, and becomes the new chief of Berk, showing that he managed to forge his own path and becoming his own man. It was a nice and satisfying ending that leaves it open, though I do wish it ended after Stoick's death. But that's just nitpicking, I actually do really like the ending; Hiccup and Astrid kiss, Velka lives on Berk again, Toothless becomes the new Alpha dragon, and Berk is rebuilt with a monument to Stoick. It again shows how enthralling the characters are that you root and cheer for Hiccup and the others when they overcome adversity. And when Stoick dies, it's a completely unexpected moment that hits you in the gut, making you hopeful that Stoick will get back up and continue fighting. But nope, he dies. I give them kudos for killing off a major character and it actually having an impact rather than just senselessly killing somebody for forced drama.

G. How to be Mixed about the Animation
The animation looked top-notch and was very bright and colorful, but also properly mixed with darker colors when the situation demanded it. Unfortunately, I do have to talk about the flying scenes and all those scenes where we watch the characters soar through the air and soak in the world they live in. As good as they are, I felt that they sometimes slowed down the movie. In the first movie I think it was fine because the plot was deliberately slow to allow for characters to grow and get closer together. But in this movie, where there was an actual plot going from point A to point B, it really slowed it down. The first few times it was great, but for me, after a while, it got a little annoying.

H. How to Give Closing Thoughts
All in all, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a wonderful movie. A combination of characters, story, and animation creates a home run, while the slow parts and the weak villain prevent it from being extremely great. On top of that, while I still personally enjoyed the movie, I find myself unable to give it that high of a score because I didn't watch the first one. On its own it is certainly good, but for fans of the franchise, it's a definite love letter. I feel it to be one of the better animated movies of the year so far.

More importantly though, it continues to set Dreamworks on fire, putting the "Dragons" franchise right up there (and possibly higher) alongside Kung Fu Panda as Dreamworks's flagship series. I eagerly await 2016 for the third and final movie.

I give How to Train Your Dragon 2 4.1/5.
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Old June 17th, 2014, 09:07 AM #7
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Well if the Riders/Defenders of Berk franchise ever does an episode on how Stoik met Skullcrusher, it's going to be depressing.
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Old June 17th, 2014, 09:43 AM #8
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I enjoyed both How To Train Your Dragon films... Did a video review on the 2nd film. Glad it lived up to the first film.

http://youtu.be/6DC6XFDcliM

I am curious about the books though and how close the films follow them. I'm going to guess not so much.
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Old June 17th, 2014, 11:22 AM #9
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Quantum Wolf wrote: View Post

I heard that the ending of the entire franchise is gonna be a downer, so I'm getting into this while I have the chance. I just watched the first movie and the first 7 episodes of the show so far. I'll be giving my thoughts on each entry until the 2nd movie.

Question though, if the show is meant to be in-between movies, where does that leave Season 3, which won't be on Netflix until 2015?
I believe s3 will take place after Dragon 2 but before Dragon 3. That would make the most sense. I might just get Netflix for that. How do Netflix TV show release work? Like it does on regular TV, weekly releases?

As for the endgame....

In the books, it's old Hiccup writing his adventures/memoirs. I'm currently listening to them (narrated by David Tennant!) and it stated that something big happened to all the dragons and they went away. I think they went to sleep at the bottom of the ocean or something.


@Crazy Davey

I would say the books and movies are very different. They only share the majority of the characters and maybe a few plots (I'm only on book 3). Toothless is totally different. He's like this little dragon (like the Terrible Terrors in the show) and is a brat.
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Old June 17th, 2014, 01:58 PM #10
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Crazy Davey wrote: View Post

I enjoyed both How To Train Your Dragon films... Did a video review on the 2nd film. Glad it lived up to the first film.

http://youtu.be/6DC6XFDcliM

I am curious about the books though and how close the films follow them. I'm going to guess not so much.
From what I read on Wikipedia, one of the biggest differences is there is no Astrid in the books.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_To_..._from_the_book
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Old June 17th, 2014, 03:14 PM #11
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There's Comicaze, who Astrid shares similarities with.
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Old June 17th, 2014, 03:15 PM #12
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Adara.2 wrote: View Post

Well if the Riders/Defenders of Berk franchise ever does an episode on how Stoik met Skullcrusher, it's going to be depressing.
Yeah, count me surprised when I found that in the show, Stoick got a completely different dragon, Thornado. Surely something must have happened in-between the movies. Likely will be explained in Season 2, if not Season 3. No spoilers please.
----------------
Astrid is indeed an original character, same with Ruffnut. But it seems that all these changes were done with Cowell and Dreamworks, and the author herself had a hand and decision in making them.

Looking up, it seems that Season 3 will actually be leading up to the events of the second movie. Maybe Season 4 (They said they intend to make the show last for a while) will be in-between the second and third movies.
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Old June 18th, 2014, 12:59 AM #13
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Interesting that S3 might take place before movie 2. If they plan on s4 and maybe s5, then movie 3 will coming out in 2018, unless Netflix doesnt follow the normal tv season schedule. I wouldnt mind the wait if we get more Dragons.

As for Thornado, it's explained in S2. I had completely forgot about it when I saw the movie and Stoick's dragon wasnt Thornado. It click a bit afterwards XD
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Old June 19th, 2014, 08:10 AM #14
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Currently halfway through Season 2, and I give major props to the show for having its own share of emotional moments that tug at your heartstrings. Though of course not on par with the movies, the ones in the show are great in their own right.

Also now I have another reason for not liking Drago in HTTYD2. The villains in the show make a much greater impression.

Will put up review of HTTYD1 after I finish Season 2.
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Old June 19th, 2014, 04:37 PM #15
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ShadowNeko003 wrote: View Post

Interesting that S3 might take place before movie 2.
I heard season three will have the subtitle "Dragon Masters", which personally makes me think it'll take place after HTTYD2.
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Old June 19th, 2014, 04:57 PM #16
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Yeah there seem to be conflicting reports about it right now; some say before HTTYD2, some say after. We likely won't know until later or sometime next year when it premieres on Netflix. Which just really annoys me since I can't even use Netflix.

If it'll be before HTTYD2, perhaps Season 3 can already be after the timeskip and feature the young adult Riders.
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Old June 19th, 2014, 09:00 PM #17
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I don't really care either way if S3 is before or after. Although I'm leaning on the after Dragon 2, just cause so the story can continue to flow. I may just reactive my Netflix for this show!
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Old June 19th, 2014, 10:16 PM #18
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Shame its going to be on Netflix, I guess Ill just watch it online! I don't really care for what happened to Stoic but I guess it was a way to suck you into the emotion of potentially losing Toothless also.

But 2 was def a good movie! My wife and I love both series and Im looking forward to seeing what they do next.
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Old June 20th, 2014, 09:45 PM #19
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Season 2 in the bag. Which means now its time for...
----------------------------
How to Train Your Dragon 1

A. How to look at this movie from another angle.
Watching this after seeing HTTYD2 and bits of Season 1 of RoB is a very interesting experience for me; seeing where things began, the beginnings of the characters, seeing the dragons for the first time, it was just fun. As such a lot of this review will be comparing how things were so different for the characters of the movies. At the same time I'll try to give my thoughts on this as a standalone as best as I can, without trying to put one movie over another.

B. How to Give My Thoughts on HTTYD1
Perhaps my greatest cinematic regret is not seeing HTTYD1 in the cinema, whether standard or IMAX 3D. So seeing on DVD on a smaller screen was a bit of a turnoff. On the other hand, it was made up by pretty much everything else. The animation was great, the characters were memorable, the dragon designs were very creative, the story was insular but had a lot of heart, and all around was just an extremely fun movie. For me personally, all of that is multiplied to even greater levels because of the knowledge of the second movie and the TV show. I don't really have much bad to say about HTTYD1, TBH. But I'll see.

C. How to talk about the Main Characters
It sure was funny seeing what Hiccup originally was in HTTYD1; tiny, weak, well-meaning, and all around just a burden to everyone around him. One of the strengths of the movie just seeing this poor kid trying his best to prove himself, whether getting approval from his disappointed father or trying to kill a dragon just to get himself a kissy-kiss from Astrid. When you see him get picked on by the likes of Snotlout and the twins you just feel sorry for him. All the more then that you root for him when he starts to succeed after finding Toothless. Hiccup is a good example of a weak, but smart character; he's smart but he doesn't over-compensate to the point that he needs to rub his knowledge in other people's faces to prove himself. This is shown after he finds Toothless and begins to learn and understand the dragons. He begins to succeed but is just nonchalant about it (An irony given a later episode of the show). He's just a good protagonist through and through, and I have nothing to complain about Hiccup when it comes to this movie.

But its not just enough that we see this from Hiccup's point of view. Usually when it comes to stories like this, the person that the protagonist needs to prove is sometimes one-dimensional; unsympathetic, uncaring, one-dimensional, high-strung, but becomes completely angelic by the end. Stoick is none of that. He may seem that way but its only because right at the get-go you can understand why; Stoick is the chief, and a chief of a Viking tribe no less. You can see why Stoick would be disappointed with Hiccup and every time he fails or unintentionally screws up. Near the beginning of the climax when Stoick disowns Hiccup you can just feel how torn up he is by his actions, and you completely sympathize with him. In the end, when he changes, there's not a whole lot else to change except that he sees the benefit of bonding with dragons. It makes where he ends up in HTTYD2 all the more heartwarming, and of course, sad.

D. How to Talk About Secondary Characters
I consider Astrid to be a secondary character here unlike HTTYD2, since she doesn't do a whole lot here besides setting up a possible friend for Hiccup and be his moral guide later on. But she definitely made an impression. She is serious, irate, abrasive, and kicker of ass, whether it be in the dragon training or just showing the other kids how its done. She is shown to be competent, and the only reason she would screw up in the beginning is because the other characters got in the way. While it may seem a little obvious to have an Action Girl in a movie (Viking culture aside), she does at least change once she gets in on Hiccup's secret. It's almost like she becomes a completely different person after that, but still not losing her edge. Not much bad to say about her, and seeing where IMO one of the best animated couples starts out is kinda sweet. Its also a nice subtle touch where after Astrid becomes friends with Hiccup, her braids are not as prominent.

Then we got Snotlout, Fishlegs and the twins Ruffnut & Tuffnut. While they do have their moments in HTTYD2, here...not so much, aside from being, for lack of a better term, tokens. You got the tough one, the fat one, and the twins & idiots. Oh sure, they do exist, but in HTTYD1 they barely do anything aside from fleshing out the world of Hiccup and giving him other kids to interact with. During the beginning they're just bullies to Hiccup, during the training they're just there to either show how weak Hiccup is or how strong Astrid is, and when we get to the climax they're just there to give support. They're probably the weakest part of HTTYD1 for me because they don't really do a whole lot or are not given enough moments to justify their presence. Makes their moments in HTTYD2 and all of the stuff that they did in the TV show all the more appreciable. There's also Gobber, where there's not much else to talk about. But at least he gives a few funny lines here and there.

E. How to Talk About Design and Animation
I don't know that much about Viking culture, and I can assume that it's definitely not that accurate in this movie, but I give props for making the island of Berk and the world these character inhabit greatly designed. ESPECIALLY when it comes to the dragons. These dragons all look phenomenal, and remind me a lot of Pokemon where each individual creature is designed uniquely and has their own traits. Whether its toothless, fat pudgy dragons, red flaming dragons, two headed dragons, or almost avian-like dragons or the Red Death, they all look great.

And here is where I give praise to the animation, much more so than HTTYD2 in a few moments. Like I said previously, HTTYD2's animation is great if not better, but its flying scenes felt out of place and sometimes unecessary because of the necessity of the plot. Here, not so much because most of the movie goes at its own pace. There's not much racing against the clock or trying and attempting to defeat an antagonist until the very end. Until then, HTTYD1 is a whole lot of moments that allow characters to breathe, interact, and evolve. Therefore, the flying scenes in HTTYD1 definitely have more of a home here.

F. How to Love the Story and the Drama
With HTTYD2 in mind, HTTYD1 can almost be seen as a parallel to Star Wars, where an unsuspecting character gets thrust into this world with a bunch of friends to overcome a great threat and be a hero. While its a story as old as time itself, the key is to make unique and seem fresh and endearing. HTTYD1 succeeds in that through a combination of characters, drama, and story. You just become so invested in these characters and caught up in the story you don't even care a lot about old story elements. When you draw the curtain though you can see that you don't even mind that these old story elements are present because the illusion made by the film to cover them up was masterfully cast. Add in the story and elements of HTTYD2, and it makes HTTYD1 all the more stronger.

G. How to Give Closing Thoughts
How to Train Your Dragon 1 can probably be a contender as one of the best CGI animated films ever for good reasons. Beyond just pretty images, its elements are also well handled and treated with a lot of dignity. Minor nitpicks about side characters aside, everything about the movie just seems to hit a chord of perfection. This, along with Kung Fu Panda, I think made people realize that Dreamworks can be a serious contender against Pixar for masterful storytelling mixed with great animation.

I give How to Train Your Dragon 1 4.7/5. And in light of seeing the first movie and appreciating the second movie all the more with a complete knowledge of events in mind, I bump up my rating of How to Train Your Dragon 2 to 4.4/5.

Addendum: Weighing it in: HTTYD1 VS HTTYD2

Once again we have another case of dueling movies in a series. Many people seem to be on the fence on whether or not one is better than the other or both are equally good.

For me, its a tough question, since both have their flaws, though HTTYD2 has more:

HTTYD1's flaws: slightly weak secondary characters
HTTYD2's flaws: slowed down pace and a weak villain

I think I'll wait until HTTYD3 before I firmly decide on that. But for others, which one do you think is the better movie among the two?
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Before I review Season 1 of the show, there's just a few more HTTYD releated material I need to see: the three DVD specials.
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Old July 20th, 2014, 05:38 PM #20
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I really enjoyed the first film after watching it a second time on Blu-ray back in 2010. I thought it was just good the first time I saw it, but when I watched it again I realized that it truly was an epic film. The tone of the second film is much more serious. Stoick's death was very sad. Not only did he die but it was accident since Toothless was being controlled. It was still good, but I liked the first movie a lot more.
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