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Trimming the fat for HTTYD 3, an important read
Topic Started: 14 Feb 2015, 17:44 (3916 Views)
DarkWing
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Hatchling

Hey forum! 8)

As you may know, I'm a strong advocate of trying to trim the fat, aka simplify the formula for HTTYD movies. What do I mean by this? By simpler I do not mean dumbed down, I mean it rids itself of unnecessary plot elements that in many cases have adverse affects on the movie.

When I compare HTTYD 1 and HTTYD 2, I find that though both movies are amazing, the second movie suffers from overcluttering. HTTYD 1 was undoubtedly a simpler movie than the second, and by that I don't mean a more simple message, but that there were fewer variables the directors had to play with: fewer characters, fewer motives and issues.

What benefits does a simpler formula have? Having less subplots gives you more time to flesh each subplot out and fulfill their potential, rather than having many unexplored and shallow story arcs. An example of the latter was Eret, though he was a charismatic character, his role in HTTYD 2 was unnecessary, and his story was not covered with the thoroughness that you should expect from a proper character. Same with Drago; he ended up being a rather superficial villain, primarily because there just wasn't enough time to explore his character. HTTYD 1 could also dedicate more time to developing its core issue (Hiccup's rebellion against dragon slaying ways) than the second movie could.

Another way HTTYD 1 benefited from being simpler was the magic in some scenes where there was no dialogue. Dean and Chris made the right decision here in making many scenes music-driven, such as test drive, forbidden friendship and romantic flight. Beautiful and memorable scenes; very simple in concept, but executed perfectly. This illustrates how the directors managed to extract as much as possible from the simple scenes they have: they did more with less.

And frankly, if we need to evaluate what makes HTTYD a good movie, we need to identify what it does better than most other movies. I believe it's few but strong character relations (mainly Stoick, Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid in HTTYD 1 than Stoick, Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, Valka, Eret, Drago, Ruffnut with Snotlout and Fishlegs), and powerful music driven scenes. Though music driven scenes were present in the second movie, they lacked the punch the first one had (except for Stoick's ship scene, that was simply beautiful). That's because in the first movie you can properly focus on and extract all the raw emotions and small gestures made in the scene, and place it in the context of the general storyline's progression, without being confused by unnecessary clutter in storylines.

To perfectly sum up these arguments, have a look at the respective release posters for HTTYD 1 and 2:





The posters reflect the mentality of the movie.. Look at the HTTYD 1 poster: simple and powerful. 1 boy, 1 dragon, radiates emotion. The HTTYD 2 poster, meanwhile, is generic, riddled with characters and not as memorable. Trim the fat so the pure essence of what makes the movie so great is what remains. Concentrated awesomeness.

What are the implications for HTTYD 3? Dean has already introduced these characters, so we now encounter the issue of having to keep them in the plot for the sake of continuity from the 2nd movie. We cannot just remove Valka because she played such a pivotal role in HTTYD 2. That being said, I think to improve the third movie, we need to cut down the presence of weak side characters (mainly the 'gang') and put more focus on the main characters, to prevent a watered down experience. We should also make full use of the incredible soundtrack, and integrate that closer with the movie (more music driven scenes).

What I view as best is a compact, self-contained plot with few characters that all have strong and many links to eachother, take the Hiccup-Toothless-Stoick triangle. So simple, so powerful.

Now it's a pattern for sequels to expand the scope of the story by introducing more characters who have their respective subplots. I say, HTTYD is better than this, we don't have to and we shouldn't follow this pattern. Though Dean won't see this, I hope you can help share this view with others within this great community! Thank you ^_^
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Berserk Shieldmaiden
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Superior Warriorness

I really hope they eliminate the Ruffnut/Snotlout/Fishlegs/Eret thing from HTTYD3. Romantic subplots between such minor characters isn't necessary.

Some have expressed interest in Gobber's sexuality being explored more. Once again, not necessary.

Background characters should be limited as much as possible.

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Steve
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Hatchling

Ruffnut, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Eret and Gobber could definitely be explored more in shorts and spinoffs, but the third movie must focus on Hiccup and Toothless.
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VeloYourSwaggyDragon
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Steve
15 Feb 2015, 02:06
Ruffnut, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Eret and Gobber could definitely be explored more in shorts and spinoffs, but the third movie must focus on Hiccup and Toothless.
This.
Once a character is introduced, they deserve to be explored more in depth. I think another Dragons season that focuses on events right after the 2nd movie could do just that. ;)
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DarthBacon
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Gronckle

Yep I agree too. One of the main things I really hate about HTTYD 2 is it going unHTTYDlike in many places - a pop song, which was used horribly and too much cheesiness in dialogues. The HTTYD 2 teaser was perfect, and it was just spoilt in the movie. See Hiccup's narration at the end of HTTYD and compare it with the one he gives in HTTYD 2. I guess Dean wanted the movie to finish with "This is Berk" so that he didn't really put any thought into what he actually says. The first makes complete sense, whereas the second is a mess. And I dunno why, when Hiccup shouted at the end, it was kinda awful. Dean says that he did not have time to do what he had planned initially in HTTYD 2, but what I feel is that if the love triangle subplot and the baby dragons scene were removed completely, we would have got a better film.

HTTYD 3 has a lot to cover up - Let's just hope Dean reads this.

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DarkWing
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DarthBacon
15 Feb 2015, 06:16
Yep I agree too. One of the main things I really hate about HTTYD 2 is it going unHTTYDlike in many places - a pop song, which was used horribly and too much cheesiness in dialogues. The HTTYD 2 teaser was perfect, and it was just spoilt in the movie. See Hiccup's narration at the end of HTTYD and compare it with the one he gives in HTTYD 2. I guess Dean wanted the movie to finish with "This is Berk" so that he didn't really put any thought into what he actually says. The first makes complete sense, whereas the second is a mess. And I dunno why, when Hiccup shouted at the end, it was kinda awful. Dean says that he did not have time to do what he had planned initially in HTTYD 2, but what I feel is that if the love triangle subplot and the baby dragons scene were removed completely, we would have got a better film.

HTTYD 3 has a lot to cover up - Let's just hope Dean reads this.
Yessir you have it spot on. The teaser for the second movie had me hyped about the style and tone the movie would follow. I still really like Httyd 2, it's just that if we have so many little things that fail to meet expectations then cumulatively, it waters down the Httyd experience.
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hcsp1
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My only master is the free wind

Personally, I don't mind the other characters being in the third film but let's make them connect to the major thing the movie needs to focus on, Hiccup and Toothless's freindship.

In the first movie, the other Viking teens were great because they helped shape the society Hiccup was born into and Hiccup's character in general. They were a needed thing that helped shape the world and what Hiccup was going against.

In the second movie, while they did help Hiccup during the fight in Valka's nest, the other teens never really had a point in being there outside from the fact that they were in the first movie. Let's think about that like this; if Astrid went to look for Hiccup by herself when she got worried Drago might have kidnapped him, would something really change? Yes, the friends did help in the movie like the battle scene I mentioned before and when they distracted the Alpha while Hiccup tried to break its control over Toothless. But aside from those, what part did they play in the great scheme of things?

When it comes to what I want their part to be in HTTYD 3; it's not that they need less screen time(Though, they shouldn't overshadow Hiccup and Toothless), they need to have a character and a connection to what's going on in order to justify the screen time given to them. Every character has a purpose, if not than why would you write them? Dean did say that the movie will have flashbacks in it. Well, maybe the flashbacks could feature something that builds a connection between Hiccup and one of the other teens? And that memory is something that will somehow connect to what's going on and help Hiccup achive what he wants in the movie.

Let us wait and see what will their role be when the movie will come out 3 and a half years from now!
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KentuckyWildcat
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Raw Vikingness

I agree with pretty much all of this. Even though it wasn't groundbreaking in it's originality, what made HTTYD great was the near perfect efficiency of the storytelling which focused on just a few characters (Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, and Stoick) who were worth caring about. Although it was still good, HTTYD 2 lost that tight sense of focus in places and as a result wasn't as good as the original.

I also agree with the comment about cheesier humor. The humor in HTTYD felt very natural because it was pretty well limited to some one-liners in scenes that otherwise served a purpose in the overall narrative. By contrast, I thought the attempts at comic relief felt more forced in HTTYD 2. The comedic elements were pushed more the forefront in a couple of scenes and felt a lot more like they were demanding attention with the over-the-top silliness of the situation rather than naturally blending in to the scene. This is especially true with all things involving Ruffnut's love life or lack thereof.

What does this mean going forward with HTTYD 3? While giving more sense of purpose and characterization to the entire crew as some have suggested might work if there were untold hours to work with, I'd doubt the run-time will be any more than the standard 90-100 minutes for Dreamworks films. Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with the OP that I want to see a return to a more narrow focus on Hiccup, Toothless, and Astrid (even though I don't like her as much, some time for Valka could also be fair with Stoick out the picture). I'd also hope for a return to a brand of humor that's less in your face.
Come death. Come suffering. I will not live in fear. In this fleeting life where time escapes us, the path of least resistance is a slow quiet death. I'd rather burn out than fade away.
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HideousZippleback
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[color=blue]I'm just here for Snotlout.
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DarthBacon
15 Feb 2015, 06:16
Yep I agree too. One of the main things I really hate about HTTYD 2 is it going unHTTYDlike in many places - a pop song, which was used horribly and too much cheesiness in dialogues. The HTTYD 2 teaser was perfect, and it was just spoilt in the movie. See Hiccup's narration at the end of HTTYD and compare it with the one he gives in HTTYD 2. I guess Dean wanted the movie to finish with "This is Berk" so that he didn't really put any thought into what he actually says. The first makes complete sense, whereas the second is a mess. And I dunno why, when Hiccup shouted at the end, it was kinda awful. Dean says that he did not have time to do what he had planned initially in HTTYD 2, but what I feel is that if the love triangle subplot and the baby dragons scene were removed completely, we would have got a better film.

HTTYD 3 has a lot to cover up - Let's just hope Dean reads this.
Oh geez that freaking pop song. It took me so out of the movie for half of it I was just... oh gods. And I have that speech. I will like "duh fudge?" the whole time.

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thenightandthefury
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Gronckle

I actually liked the pop song in the movie. Sure the teaser was great but they weren't going to use the same music for that in the movie; we should know that. They wanted a more upbeat feel to it, like they were free. I think they accomplished that. UN-HTTYD like? You mean because the first movie only had lyrical pieces? That doesn't make it not HTTYD like to add a fun song in there. Heck, my dad couldn't even tell there was singing in there when we went to see it. It was more of a song to describe Hiccups yearning for freedom, which I can appreciate. Pop song or not, I don't mind that they put it in there, (heck I was actually singing along in the theater and dancing in my chair, a smile glued to my face. And I am 25) and it wasn't too big of a deal except that some people would have rather had the teaser trailer instead... Which wasn't the feeling they were looking for when they introduced Hiccup in the movie. Get over it.

Also HTTYD is generally a movie where Hiccup is looking back at his life during the narrations. Seriously.. getting down on the editors for a cruddy narration? I thought it was good. "Those who try to stop us are relentless and crazy. But the ones who stop them, ooh even more so." You gotta remember Hiccup lost his dad less then 24 hours prior in the film. He is out to seek justice. Also, where as Drago and his crew are relentless for war and go crazy thinking of plans of war, Hiccup and the Berkians are relentless for peace and crazy in the eyes of many for training dragons. (As Gobber said "Not everyone prefers this kind of life") "Oh sure, they have armies, they have armadas, but we.. we have.. OUR DRAGONS!"

That. That I feel ended it with a good strong note. I didn't at all feel like it wasn't good enough or didn't make sense. It left me pumped up for the third movie, knowing that Hiccup was ready to fight if need be. It also meant that Hiccup and Berk had the trust of dragons, knowing their dragons would do anything for them, rather then scaring them into obeying. Honestly I am kinda sick of people nitpicking over all of it. I mean seriously, just enjoy what you get. There, I'm done. Later.
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