I mean, the title pretty much sums it up, but I’m here to offer a little more explanation as to why this is.
How to Train Your Dragon was wildly popular upon its release, despite how different it was from the books, and over a decade later, I’m still not tired of this franchise. The third (and final) installment actually came out during February of my senior year of high school. A friend and I went to see it in theaters, and as we watched Hiccup on screen, in his early 20s, it felt like our own futures were reflected back at us. We were both 18 and heading to college in a few short months; we were no longer kids.
[bf_image id="qaloap-gcc9yw-2w7n7w"] Nonetheless, every time I watch the first movie, I’m hit with a blast of fond nostalgia. I remember desperately wishing dragons were real so I could find one like Toothless to be best friends with. For a kid with a wild imagination, it was a lot of fun to dream about.
Even now, I see this movie with the same fondness. The story is one we’ve seen a thousand times over, in a thousand different settings: the oddball protagonist’s quirks and willingness to disobey the social order actually turn out to be just the thing needed to save the world (or village) from destruction.
What sets the first movie apart is the relationships between the characters, the world-building, and, of course, the music. I’m a sucker for movie scores, and HTTYD delivers on a whole other level.
There isn’t a single misplaced note in this entire movie, from the beginning with This is Berk all the way to Jónsi crooning in the credits. I have to shout out the track named Test Drive, which is when Hiccup and Toothless go on their first untethered flight together—it’s emotional, triumphant, and all-around utter perfection. By far my favorite song from any movie I’ve ever seen. (John Powell was absolutely robbed of the Oscar for Best Original Score that year.)
[bf_image id="q7jtnc-8mxwpk-ceuqn0"] The character development and world-building should also be applauded. Every character is well-rounded and has their time to shine, from our protagonist to his peers to the adult Vikings, even those that we only see on screen for half a second (including the guy who pauses his war cry to greet Hiccup with an enthusiastic “MORNIN’!” as the village burns down around them. What an opening scene!)
Speaking of the opening, I adore Hiccup’s narration. He’s got the sarcasm of a teenager that covers his hidden insecurities, but he loves his village and the people in it, even if he doesn’t quite feel like he belongs—which is all evident within 30 seconds of the movie starting. It’s exposition and character introductions, all rolled into one exhilarating scene.
Perhaps the best part of this movie (and trilogy) is seeing the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless flourish. It’s a totally platonic take on one of my favorite story tropes: enemies to lovers/friends. I mean, a bond formed between two outcasts/loners who manage to bridge the gap between their respective species? I am here for it! The first true friend either of them have is each other, which highlights the theme of friendship that this movie showcases so well.
[bf_image id="q9o29i-26fvq0-epqnbs"] I could sing this movie’s praises forever—the animation, the voice actors, the camera work—but I feel as though I’ve rambled on enough. This is my ultimate favorite movie, kind of like how ramen is my ultimate comfort food, or how Avatar: The Last Airbender is my favorite TV show. I may be biased, but if you haven’t seen this movie in a while, you’re definitely overdue for a rewatch.
(Was I listening to the HTTYD soundtrack on repeat while writing this article? I think you already know the answer to that one.)