OBJECTIVE: Watch a popular or critically acclaimed film we’ve never seen to the halfway point. Pause it. Work together to predict the ending.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010)
THE LAST THING WE SAW: We paused at 00:49:00, right after Hiccup’s dad proudly gives him his own Viking helmet.
And now… discuss!
Ben: I can’t avoid talking about it: remarkably, we paused on a drawing of the flux capacitor from Bill‘s beloved former assignment, Back to the Future. I’m gonna have to re-watch this thing and look for other Easter eggs. Or whatever the Jewish equivalent of that is (matzoh crumbs?).
Phil: Yeah. Maybe if he trains his dragon to fly fast enough, he’ll find himself back in the ’50s (the 550s) and then help his dad find his inner Dragon-Slayer. That, or have things turn out that old Pop Viking gets punched in the face (his dad is more the Biff type).
So, anyway, how do you think this’ll all go down?
Ben: With a new tail-fin rig, it’ll stay in the air! Wocka! First, Hiccup will keep learning more about How to Spoil Your Dragon. Astrid will respect him, and the two will commence smoochin’.
Phil: I disagree. She seems jealous of his ease and confidence with dragons. Astrid (why doesn’t she have a badass name, too? I’d call her Dalek Skirt) is going to find out about Hiccup’s secret palling around with the Night Fury. Then she’ll spill the beans and the village will see him as a traitor for a good portion of the film.
Ben: I think Astrid is a badass name! The movie has spent all of this time focused on Hiccup hate. And why set up the whole Hiccup-Astrid crush in the opening minutes if only to go nowhere with it? The village already sees him as a stooge; we gotta see something different.
Phil: Maybe it is because “Astrid” reminds me of “Adric,” the ineffectual and aggravating Doctor Who companion, that I’ve given her name short shrift. And while I admit you’re right that they’ve set up romantic tension between the two, and that after the final showdown between man and beast she may respect him to the point of significant other status, the film may easily subvert that: she’s so against him that her jealousy could get in the way—she’ll betray him and cause a pretty significant rift between our star-crossed lovebirds.
Ben: As the French say, “no.” She’s also trying to prove herself. If anything crappy is gonna happen to anybody, I’d say it’s either his dad Stoick (to represent the old ways falling out of favor) or McLovin von Know-It-All (just cause I want bad things to happen to him with +5 fervor).
Phil: Oh, that’s a good point. In the big final battle that ends this (or do you agree that there will be a final battle?), those kids are going to have their shining moments. Chekhov’s… trained… kids. Or whatever.
Ben: Ah, yes, Chekhov’s abandoned metaphor. I know it well. My director used to say that if you show your musical theater aspirations in the first act, then you have to use your bad relationship with your father in the third act. But yeah. Big battle or confrontation of some sort. I actually kinda hope Gobber loses another limb, if only because I love his prosthetics.
Phil: Yes! And so does he, for that matter.
I’m glad we’re in agreement on a big epic Lord of the Freaking Rings-style fight at the end. It will involve our Mr. Cup with the opportunity to slay a dragon in front of the blood-crazed villagers. He’ll refrain, though, and they’ll razz him with a vigorous assortment of Viking taunts in Scottish accents (I didn’t know Scandinavians spoke like Craig Ferguson—they must have all done an elocution course in the Highlands during a season less contaminated with dragons).
Ben: Will he? Or will he try to talk them into grass treatments and tummy rubs like a Bronze Age hippie?
Phil: He’ll prove that dragons are just misunderstood and trainable, either with all of those cutesy hippie remedies or with an impressive swoop on Black Fury-Beauty. And all will be good. Although, frankly, what the dragons get out of this, I can’t really tell—why would you choose to be domesticated when you are such a formidable force of nature so near the top of the food chain?
Ben: Because that doesn’t sell toys. I mean, because the Night Fury was very thankful (for the release, feedings, small wing repair, etc.). That’s kinda like asking why we don’t just nuke any war-torn region. When we learn to live in mutual respect and even symbiosis, we all become stronger. Plus, we all get fire-breathing pets.
Phil: Hippie. Kidding. No, I didn’t mean that their fight ought to continue, just that the dragons and humans could also just coexist without one subjugating (“domesticating”—training!) the other.
Phil: Agh! You’re right!
Ben: One thing to watch will be Stoick’s reaction to the truth about his son. Stoick thinks that Hiccup is more like Saint George than Khaleesi, when the opposite is true. Looks like he just inherited the Helm of Many Disappointments.
Phil: Yeah—Stoick’s going to be sorely disappointed and a little weirded out that his son, rather than being a Dragon Slayer, is a Dragon Whisperer. Shouts and bickering will occur, ending in Hiccup’s yelling, “You don’t know me! You’ve never known me, Dad!” And he’ll go on and deal with it by getting his own reality show and becoming the Medieval answer to Jackson Galaxy.
Ben: Look him up. Or better yet, don’t.
Phil: Kidding aside, after the misunderstandings and yelling, his dad will be unimpressed until the big demonstration at the end of the final battle.
Ben: If Stoick lives that long!
Phil: You think the most badass of them all is going to have his bad ass handed to him?
Ben: Yeah. We’re not still watching movies about Gordon Gekko or Leonidas. Every dog (or dragon) has his day, then progress must come, and we embrace a new hero. Did you learn nothing from the seminal performance of Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street? All nerds eventually become cool. Heck, I was wearing Green Arrow T-shirts in high school when people were asking, “What kind of band is that?” Now it’s a hit show on The CW!
Phil: And I was watching Tom Baker careen across the universe in his TARDIS and now everybody knows him! … Or David Tennant. Whatever. But I think that his dad’ll survive the battle and come to accept his son for the cool nerd, scruffy-looking dragon-herder that he’s become. Acceptance seems to be a major theme of this movie, and I think a father’s acceptance of his son is going to play a big part in the finale.
Ben: Either way, can we agree that McLovin is gonna get a dragon dropkick?
Phil: Oh, definitely! Let the literal Flame War commence!
AND NOW, WE FINISH–OH, WAIT:
We were actually in a bit of a time crunch and didn’t get to finish the movie before the deadline. (All of the pictures from the second half are added by our editor.) When we get around to it, though, feel free to ask us what we thought. Speaking of which…
You can ask Ben Katz what he thought of How to Train Your Dragon on Twitter, and also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re in need of I.T. services or computer/printer repair. Phil Hobby continues to be in a time crunch due to all the marvelous shows he’s in for the PortFringe festival, which is happening this week in Portland, Maine! Catch him in A Spontaneous Night of Improv Comedy with Turkey Club, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon with The Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Theatre Company, and Captive Audience with Age of Enlightenment. Also, tweet!