Stuck in a hotel room with nasty weather, what to do? Of course, an Academy-nominated animation double header!
I’m always leery of sequels but I’m happy to report How To Train Your Dragon 2 was actually better than its predecessor. How so? A more interesting story line. This one sees the main protagonist, Hiccup, rise to a much different position within his community. His dragon sidekick, Toothless, while still goofy goes super badass on the dragon antagonist in the final minutes, completely upending a power structure set up in previous scenes. A main character meets a dignified end, weaving together a cohesive plot and likely setting up the next installment. Themes of loyalty, responsibility and maturity permeate.
CGI is more detailed and creative for the sequel dragons, particularly for the dragon antagonist who has freezing powers rather than heating powers, like the rest of the dragonset.
Dragon 2 seems to be geared more to the teen set but its likely enjoyable to all and I didn’t notice any scenes that might be inappropriate or scary for kids.
Boxtrolls features a great combination of stop motion and CGI. The story is probably more geared for a pre-teen crowd but with some social commentary they might not understand.
A young boy is raised below ground by a group of box-wearing trolls. The trolls are a peaceful, well-meaning lot with peculiar habits who only visit ‘above’ to scavenge for items they can use ‘below’. The quasi steampunk world they created from other’s cast offs was definitely creative. ‘Above’, society is partitioned into white hats and red hats. The white hats are the social elite and its they who have spun a story vilifying the Boxtrolls. The red hats are the Boxtroll ‘exterminators’, commissioned by the white hats.
The story about how the boy came to grow up with the Boxtrolls is revealed slowly throughout. The boy becomes the pivot between ‘above’ and below’ and is faced with choosing one side over the other or adjusting the perspectives of both.
Heavy handed commentary on society permeated Boxtrolls – the vilification of one group by another, sheep-like acceptance of fact-less claims, an elite few impulsively directing with impunity. Those are good themes to include in films, however I found them odd and somewhat out of place in an animated film geared for the younger set.
Both animation features are worthy of a view but if you have to chose just one, I’d probably pick Dragon 2; while more formulaic in delivery, I found it more entertaining.