This movie is probably one of the best animated movies I’ve ever seen
((It’s the best animated movie I’ve ever seen.))
This is SO the best animated movie I’ve ever seen. And it’s not just because a boy and dragon are cute, though they are that as well. The directors took chances with them, they pushed creativity in what they did. Early on the idea of a dragon part-mechanical intrigued them — they didn’t just make “another” dragon movie with the same old European creatures that have repeated over in the fantasy world. They took a tried-and-true storyline, a coming of age story that could have been redundant, and they gave it a twist. So many of the most crucial moments in the film have absolutely no dialogue, and that is rare in an animated film. And what did that do? It opened up the show and took away the tell — it forced the characters to reveal themselves through nuances of action and made us lean forward to see what they thought and what they did. The sheer nuance of expression alone is almost unrivaled, and I say almost only because I haven’t seen them all. But I dare another animated film to rival this.
And oh wait — the ending. After everything in the plot was wrapped up, the directors didn’t need to do it. They could have had another perfectly happy ending like a thousand other flicks, but they threw in something that set HTTYD apart from everything I know.
Hiccup lost his leg. It was a move purely for the theme, purely for character. It said that these characters weren’t just cartoons who can get flattened by a truck and bounce back unscathed. They are real, they can hurt and not everything ends “too perfect” when it’s real life we’re talking about.
But more than that, it was the symbolism of literature that sealed the deal. That ending frame by the door, the clinking prosthetic on the ground and the sweeping tail — that was something. Now this boy knows exactly what his dragon went through, and this dragon knows exactly what his boy is going through now. Now they know more than ever that they are one and they complete each other.
I don’t know if I’ve ever known another film that centralizes everything on such a relationship, a friendship, ever. Other films have friendship, but it’s not like this one. I don’t know how to explain it, but there is something different about Hiccup and Toothless, something that moves me more than any other movie I’ve ever seen or ever will see.
YES. THIS. ALL OF THIS!
I just wanted to add to this perfection above that what I absolutely loved about this movie and what sets it apart from a lot of other movies, animated AND live-action, is how HIGH the stakes are.
The moment Hiccup finds Toothless all wrapped up in his bola like a gift from Odin, and Hiccup raises his knife above him, declaring, “I AM A VIKING!” You know shite just got real. This is a kid who is about to kill something dangerous, a creature so feared by his tribe that they have literally only heard of it in stories. But the music gets all dramatic and he freezes with his knife in the air, panting breathlessly and staring down at this awesome beast he has managed to capture and you can see the EXACT moment he realizes he can’t do it. Because this dangerous beast has been rendered COMPLETELY HELPLESS and you realize that Hiccup has seen a part of himself in that dragon that he has absolutely no willpower to kill. So, in an act of pure BALLS OF STEAL, he risks his own life to free the dragon. AND OF COURSE, the dragon reacts by leaping on him and roaring in his face, because the dragon was FREAKING SCARED and he’d probably seen his entire fire-breathing life flash behind his eyes before Hiccup had decided to free him. But then he spares Hiccup’s life and Hiccup is left gasping for breath, because he also has seen his life flash before his eyes. He had taken a GINORMOUS RISK and he’d almost gotten KILLED for it.
And the ante is only upped from there! The argument Hiccup has with his father when Toothless is discovered is so RAW and HEART-WRENCHING, because you know exactly where both of them are coming from, but this ENTIRE FILM was about Hiccup struggling to gain his father’s respect and NEVER being worthy of it. His expression of complete desolation when his father tells him he’s not his son and leaves him sprawled out on the hall floor with only the sunlight from outside to light his face is MASTERFULLY DONE. You know in that moment that Hiccup had always hoped he could have gained his father’s respect even when he KNEW he was doing something behind his back, and to have Stoick confirm what Hiccup had feared to be true all along, that his father would NEVER accept him for who he truly was, was devastating. This is proven by the fact that Hiccup doesn’t fight him later when he takes Toothless away. ALL of the fight has just left him, to the point that he is actually questioning why he’d saved that dragon AT ALL. And it takes Astrid questioning him to bring him back, to remind him why he’d done it all in the first place. Because he did something that no other Viking would have ever done, but THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT WRONG. He’d managed to do something that was WORTH fighting for, because he was DIFFERENT. In that moment, Hiccup finally learned to ACCEPT himself even without his father’s approval. And the build up to this was gloriously done.
Then of course there’s the final battle and its aftermath where the stakes are EVEN HIGHER, because HIccup does end up sacrificing something he will NEVER get back. The film makers had the BALLS to go there, and it provided a realism to this story that blows other animated films out of the water. This is a film about friendship and acceptance, of others and oneself, and of conviction and sacrifice. Nothing HIccup did was ever easy and the film makers made sure you knew that, FELT that, every step of the way.