I received a free copy of this book for review from Harper Voyager.
This past weekend the boy indulged my fixation with dragons and took me to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. We both liked the first movie, so this wasn’t too much of a hardship for him. 🙂 I thought the first movie was a lot of fun, and the 2nd movie was a good follow-up. Still fun (and obviously full of dragons), but a little more serious and a little more mature, which fits for taking place 5 story-world years after the first movie. And I always appreciate when a cartoon movie isn’t of the everyone-breaks-into-song-and-dance format. The timing was good for seeing it, too, because just a few days before, I had received my beautiful hard-back copy of The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2, which gives a behinds-the-scenes type look at everything that went into the art and animation. I resisted flipping through it until I had seen the movie, though, because I didn’t want to spoil it. But as soon as we got home from the theater, I sat down to look through it.
Being of a somewhat creative bent myself, I always appreciate seeing all of the little details and decisions that go into a final piece of art. And with something as large-scale as an animated movie, there are a LOT of those. Reading about the little touches they added to age all the young characters 5 years, all of the wildly different inspirations they drew from for all of the dragon species, the evolution of the design of the villain, and even the crew trip to Norway for landscape and lighting inspiration – I find all of this fascinating. The book is beautifully designed, too, as textural and layered as the movie art. And that artwork (both initial sketches and final movie versions) really is stunning. Just take a look at a few of these spreads:
I will say, I was hoping for a little more background on Viking and Nordic elements that inspired the artists. They mentioned several times that they were inspired by such things, but didn’t really go into too much detail about specifics or what those specifics meant. But this book is still a treat for the eyes and anyone who wants some backstory to the animation. And if you haven’t seen this movie, or the first one, you should get on that for three reasons: 1) Toothless the dragon is possibly the most adorable dragon ever; 2) They really are just good fun to watch; and 3) it’s a trilogy, folks, so there’s going to be another one – yay! (thanks to this book for alerting me to #3 – did not know that beforehand).
Any other dragon aficionados out there? Have you seen the movie(s)?