Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Look, I loved doing the Month of Spooks. But god damn, have I missed being able to talk about other kinds of movies. So let’s talk about a children’s film.

Ladies and gentlemen… “How to Train Your Dragon”.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the son of a great dragon-slaying viking (Gerard Butler), yet he himself is expected to reach his father’s legacy. And one day when he meets an injured dragon, he soon learns that these beasts might not just be bloodthirsty monsters. So now we have our children’s fantasy adventure story. And by Odin’s beard, this story is great. Yeah, sure, we’ve seen similar premises done before. But the care they put into how their storytelling is presented here is quite astonishing. The story here is told in a really mature way that doesn’t treat its audience like absolute idiots, like so many kid’s movies do. And by the end I was emotionally invested in the story, thanks to the clever and nuanced storytelling.

The characters in this are colorful, layered (for the most part), unique, and really interesting. First we have Hiccup, son of a great viking, but more of a scrawny wimp himself. He’s a smart young dude, relying on wits to get him through shit rather than actual force. And he has an interesting and fun arc in this movie that I really enjoyed following. And I think Jay Baruchel did a great job voicing the character. We then have Gerard Butler as his burly dad, and he’s great. You get America Ferrera as Astrid, a local girl that Hiccup may have a bit of a crush on, and she’s great in the role. You get Craig Ferguson as another viking/comic relief, and he’s great. And in other supporting roles you have people like Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller, and more, and they all do a great job. Really, it’s a top notch cast.

The score for the movie was composed by John Powell, and it was absolutely wonderful. Big and epic, but also small and intimate. Epic and exciting, but also subtle and emotionally resonant. It manages to capture every emotion one would want in a movie like this.

Based on a novel by Cressida Cowell, “How to Train Your Dragon” was written by William Davies, Dean DeBlois, and Chris Sanders, with DeBlois and Sanders handling direction. And just like the story and characters before it, the craft on display here is marvelous. Everything in the direction is carefully considered, not a single frame is pure filler, everything exists either do develop a character or to add nuance to the story. Which leads us to the animation, which is absolutely spectacular. It’s highly detailed, and makes for some absolutely gorgeous images, especially during the action scenes, which are some of the best I’ve ever seen in an animated feature. The final set piece alone is one of the best I’ve seen in relatively recent movies. And with this being an animated kid’s film, there’s of course plenty of humor throughout… and it’s funny, I laugh. Slapstick, snappy comebacks, it’s all there, and it’s funny.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10 and is ranked #189 on the “top 250” list. It was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best animated feature and Best original score.

“How to Train Your Dragon” is one of the best animated films I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic directing/animation, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Aye*. My final score for “How to Train Your Dragon” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “How to Train Your Dragon” is now completed.

I can now see what all the fuss was about.

Movie Review: Reign of Fire (2002)

Dragons. The coolest of the mythological creatures (aside from the Unicorn which is the most badass motherfucking thing ever), a fire-breathing lizard living for destruction. They’ve been used in countless books, movies, shows, and video games. And they will continue to be used for years to come because… well, because dragons are awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Reign of Fire”.

The world has gone to shit. Twenty years ago, dragons rose from a deep slumber underground. Now in 2020 dragons pretty much rule the world and the humans are close to extinction. And we follow Quinn (Christian Bale), the leader of a group of survivors in England, trying to simply survive. But their way of life takes a bit of a turn when a group of Americans led by a man named Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) arrive. And we follow them as they try to not get killed by dragons. So now we have our post-apocalyptic plot. And is it any good? Yeah… far from flawless, but definitely better than I expected. For the most part it’s an enjoyable and interesting action plot, putting a cool spin on the post-apocalyptic genre. Where the flaws come in is with how the plot is reaching for something more than just a simple action plot. You can tell that they’re trying to reach for a more dramatic and emotionally layered plot, but not being able to grab on to it. So it is brought down by trying to reach for something that they can’t quite reach. But overall it is pretty good.

The characters in this aren’t the deepest, as a matter of fact I didn’t care about them too much, but they were interesting enough that I didn’t want them dead. Christian Bale plays Quinn, the leader of a group of survivors. He’s smart, kind, and tough, making him a somewhat compelling character. And Bale is really good in the role. Matthew McConaughey plays Van Zan, the leader of the Americans that Quinn teams up with. He’s a badass crazy person, and McConaughey chewed up a good amount of scenery here… in a good way. Izabella Scorupco plays Alex, an American helicopter pilot traveling with Van Zan. She’s tough but still has a more vulnerable side (making her somewhat interesting), and Scorupco is good in the role. Gerard Butler plays Creedy, the comic relief/exposition-y best friend of Quinn. And despite not being a great comic relief/exposition-man, Butler is still likable enough that I thought he worked decently in this movie. Really, the cast in this movie is good and they all did well here.

The score for the movie was composed by Edward Shearmur and it was quite good. It was big, badass, haunting, and kind of epic. The only (small) problem I have with it doesn’t come so much from the composition, but ut rather has to do with the implementation of it. While it helps elevate certain moments throughout the movie, it is a bit on the loud side, often drowning out things that should be louder than it… like tanks, and helicopters, and dragons. Again, it’s a small problem that doesn’t take away anything from it, but I thought it would be worth mentioning.

This movie was directed by Rob Bowman and I think he did a pretty good job. The movie has a very drab color scheme, but overall his shots do look pretty good. And let’s talk about the dragons… holy shit, they look fantastic, especially for 2002. The CG looks great and the dragons are very well implemented into the world, giving them a very real presence. Which leads me to the action scenes in this movie (which all involve dragons!). They’re the best part of this movie. They manage to make the action scenes with the dragons very tense, badass, exciting, and feel like they have weight to them. It’s not just a dragon shooting some fire and that’s it, oh no. They really show the destructive force of these overgrown Draco lizards (google it). And it makes the dragons feel a bit more real and a bit more terrifying, which is great.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 40% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. Roger Ebert gave it 1/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

While far from a great movie, “Reign of Fire” is a surprisingly enjoyable action flick. It has an okay plot, okay characters, really good performances, great music, and really good directing (and those dragons, man!). Time for my final score. *roar*. My final score for “Reign of Fire” is an 8,56/10. So while quite flawed, it’s worth buying.

My review of “Reign of Fire” is now completed.

BIG DWAGON.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

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We’re now halfway through my series of reviews leading up to the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. So I just wanted to take a moment to thank you guys for sticking around and for giving me a bunch of likes and nice comments… I really appreciate it. Okay, done with the mushy stuff… let’s get into the review!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”!

So Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) return for their fourth year at Hogwarts. But this time it is a bit different since the school has been selected to host the Triwizard tournament. This of course is the huge magical tournament where wizards and witches from three different schools compete to show who’s the best. The wizards get selected through the Goblet of Fire (roll credits). And for some unknown reason, Harry get selected by it to compete, despite being three years too young. So now he has to compete in there, while something more sinister goes on in the background. And this gives us an intereesting plot that further develops this world we all know and love, while also playing with the theme of maturity. I mean, since this is the first PG-13 “Harry Potter” movie, so we get some more mature themes in this movie. And it’s really interesting to see these characters go through all the things they go through in this movie.

The characters in this movie are just as interesting and great as in the first three… if not even better. Since Harry gets dragged into the tournament and has to face some truly dangerous stuff, he of course has to mature a bit, which he actually does throughout the movie, and I do like seeing that type of development in him. You can really tell that he’s very different from when we first saw him in “Philosopher’s Stone”, he has really grown as a character. And Daniel Radcliffe is absolutely terrific in the role, especially since he has to show a lot of emotion throughout this movie, which can be difficult for someone so young. But he fucking nailed it! Ron and Hermione also gets some development in the movie, which is nice to see. Of course Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are great in their roles. All other returning cast members are great in their roles too. So let’s talk about some of the new additions. First off, Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory, a handsome young man from Hufflepuff. And he’s really good in this movie, compared to his performance as Edward in “Twilight”… which was shit. Then we have Brendan Gleeson as Alastor “MadEye” Moody, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He may be a bit crazy, but at least he’s great at what he does. And Brendan Gleeson is fantastic in the role. We also get Katie Leung as Cho Chang, a student at Hogwarts that Harry may or may not have a bit of a crush on. And she’s good in her role too. Basically all actors did really well.

This is the first of the “Harry Potter” movies not to be scored by the one and only John Williams. Instead the score was composed by Patrick Doyle. And while I don’t think the score is as great as maybe “Prisoner of Azkaban”, it still is damn good. It’s fun, exciting, magical, and perfectly works for the movie. It’s good.

This movie was directed by Mike Newell and I think he did a really good job with it. The shots look really good and the scenes flow very well. But where this movie really shines is with the Triwizard scenes, particularly the first and the last. The first is an exciting scene where Harry has to dodge a CGI dragon that looks absolutely terrific. The final one, which is in a maze… tense as all hell. And it’s a great scene for Harry as a character, because it’s basically just him trying to survive in there, all by himself. Speaking of things, the visual effects in this movie looks absolutely fantastic. Sure, you can tell most of the time when stuff is CGI, but at least it looks really good. There’s also a lot of comedy in the movie, I really had forgotten how funny this movie actually was. Most of the comedy has to do with the guys entering puberty and also having to deal with a Yule ball. Seriously, I laughed quite a bit thanks to this movie. And of course, Fred and George, being as awesomely funny as always… love ’em.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Art Direction.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is not as good as “Prisoner of Azkaban”, but it’s still a damn fine movie. With a really good plot, great characters, great acting, really good music, really good directing, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. Accio, envelope! My final score for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is a 9,74/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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My review of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is now completed.

Halfway there… holy shit.