Friday, October 12, 2012

Dragons Review: "Portrait of Hiccup As a Buff Man"

This review contains more overt SPOILERS than my reviews normally do.

Portrait of Hiccup As a Buff Man?  That's an odd title!  Believe it or not the name is actually literal.  As it turns out, there is a proud tradition of displaying portraits of the island chief and their son in the Great Hall.  When the portrait of Stoic and Hiccup is unveiled, Hiccup is disappointed to see that he has been portrayed as a muscular young viking, more like how Stoic would prefer him to be remembered.  Oh sure, Hiccup figured out how to tame dragons, but he's just so...small.  Determined to prove to his father that muscles aren't everything, Hiccup sets off on a riddle-laden quest to find a legendary treasure that even Stoic had been unable to find.

Weird title aside, this was another enjoyable episode...for the most part.  I was especially pleased to see that it did not rely on the formula of having two seemingly unrelated plot points that come together in a predictable way at the end, as several past episodes have done.  Instead we got to follow Hiccup and the gang on a treasure hunt.  And it was a pretty clever hunt!

There were just a couple of things about this episode that bugged me though.  The main thing was that all the way through the quest, the treasure hunt appeared to require dragons.  Fire in the ice cave.  Flying up to the serpent rock.  Using both heads of a Zippleback to remove rocks from a wall.  And, of course, wings to survive the long fall at the end.  It's well established that no one trained dragons before Hiccup.  So how would one ever go about hunting for this treasure in the past?

The resolution of the episode tries to clear this up by saying you have to be a "hiccup" to solve the clues and find the treasure.  Evidently a "hiccup" on Berk refers to the runt of the litter.  Seems kind of cruel for Hiccup's parents to name him that then!  So...only spindly little wimpy vikings have the brains to solve the riddles?  Okay, but Hiccup still wouldn't have gotten very far without a dragon or two, plus all his friends, to help out.  It was annoyingly contrived.

Plot holes and story issues aside, this was still a fun episode.  Probably the weakest one so far, but still entertaining.  There were some great set pieces, with the Fireworm dragon scene being particularly well done.  Those story didn't make a lot of sense but, hey, we still got to see Toothless on the screen for a half hour!  I look forward to seeing what Dragons has to offer next.

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