Alphabetical Movie – How to Train Your Dragon
Here’s my problem with How to Train Your Dragon: Physics.
The movie is quite good. I’m generally underwhelmed by Dreamworks animation (especially the Shrek franchise) but this film works on just about every level. Except one.
And I’m not talking about the physics of Dragon flight (although that is pretty dubious). My concern is the final battle sequence. I’m going to have to go into spoilers below the fold.
Let’s start with the dragon our hero is flying, the Night Fury:
The How To Train your Dragon Wiki which does, in fact, exist, tells me the following about a Night Fury:
In flight, the Night Fury’s wingspan is unrivaled, making it resemble some sort of jet plane. This allows it to fly faster, longer and further than any of the other dragon species.
Now let us consider his opponent in the final, climactic battle of the film:
That is one big, nasty looking dragon!
And it can fly! Using those tiny little wings! In fact, it can keep up with a Night Fury!
He can keep up with this:
We are talking about a dragon that is built like a jet airplane versus something that looks like a rhinoceros with wings.
Really small wings.
Small wings that, based on the fact it has been living inside a volcano for a really long time, it hardly ever uses.
Now I’m not going to sit down and do all the math required. I’ll leave that up to the physicists and the engineers. Even without the math, it seems only too obvious that a Night Fury couldn’t just outfly a Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus (that’s the scientific name – I’m not making it up), his only worry would be if he was underneath his opponent when it no longer had the strength to keep flying. He’d probably get crushed by accident.
I would imagine that’d take about a minute given that the wing muscles must be pretty well atrophied by now.
It’s like a fight between the millennium Falcon and a Star Destroyer if all the Star Destroyer could do was blow fire out of its nose cone. Han Solo and Chewie would just toy with the damn thing for a while and then fire a torpedo right at the bridge. It’d be an embarrassment. Vader would force choke the lot of them if they weren’t already dead.
That isn’t what happens, though.
Instead, Hiccup and Toothless barely escape with their lives in an epic struggle between the little guy who is faster, more agile and smarter than the big guy and the big guy who is….really really big.
I’m all for a tense final battle. Watching a fight in which the outcome is never in doubt is not particularly interesting.
The problem here is that I was unable to suspend belief in spite of the fact that up to that point, I had no problem accepting that there could be a dragon with retractable teeth or that the only pretty (read “skinny”) girl in the entire Viking village would be the only Viking without a ridiculous name.
When the Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus (I’m not kidding that’s its name – google it) had no trouble catching up with a Night Fury, however, I drew the line. A guy has got to have standards.