How To Train Your Dragon Review (4.5 of 5)

Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon, a boy meets dragon movie, is fun whether you’re a kid or just a kid at heart. I think I liked this even more than I liked  last year’s ‘Up’ (which I picked as my Best Movie of 2009). While Up was just a bit more serious in tone (and emotional resonance), ‘Dragon’ had more thrills a minute than that one did.

There are several majestically sweeping flying scenes that were done as well as anything in Avatar, maybe even better. I think the days of the ‘but it’s inferior to Pixar ‘ automated response is coming to an end. I enjoyed this (and Kung Fu Panda) more than a lot of Pixar movies. Not that I have anything against Pixar; maybe just their blindly loyal snob fans.

The story is that of Hiccup, a Viking boy voiced by the presently very busy Jay Baruchel, who can’t quite measure up to acceptable Viking standards. His father is a bit disappointed with him and is afraid to let him train to fight what plagues their home: dragons.

There has been a war going on for some time between Vikings and dragons, who regularly pillage the Viking village of Berk and their livestock.

Hiccup is relegated to being the apprentice/helper of the Viking Blacksmith Gobber (voiced enthusiastically by Craig Ferguson).

The trouble is, at this point, Hiccup would very much like to help ward off the dragons like everyone in town. He even has new ideas how to deal with the dragon menace and has even devised some new anti-dragon artillary which amuses some of the other Vikings.

He wants to help, that is, until he actually uses one of his contraptions to  take down a ‘Night Fury’ a legendary beast that has never been seen by Viking eyes.

Hiccup finds that he has indeed taken down the stealthy creature but doesn’t have the heart to kill it, so he lets it go.

This is where the movie became less predictable to me. In the trailers it makes it seem as though Hiccup frees the Dragon and they immediately become friends.

It’s not so easy in the actual film. Sure, you’ll probably have an idea how the movie works itself out by the end, but it has quite a few surprises before getting there. I don’t spoil good movies so I won’t say anything else about the plot.

There were a lot of things to like about this movie. It’s a beautiful movie to look at. There is a lot of creativity in the looks of the characters, especially the dragons.

There is also a lot of action happening in the film. The flying sequences were notable, especially in the middle of the film. The battle sequences were all well choreographed and inspired.

Above all else, the animators did an outstanding job of imbuing all of the characters (specifically Toothless, the Night Fury) with an extremely large range of refined emotions.


Tootless, but not 'toothless'.

The massive creature that turns up as the antagonistic force at the end of the film was spectacular.

When it reveals itself, it’s very impressive, more so than the massive creature in another film I saw around the same time: Clash of the Titans… And this was a cartoon.

Gerard Butler's character, deciding where they'll be dining tonight.

The voices were all well cast, despite the fact that the characters were Norseman (Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson are both Scottish aren’t they?).

All of the younger Vikings were voiced by American actors, but despite that, it still worked. I’m just glad there weren’t any pop culture references like Shrek. It never even tried to have a Norse tone; it was a contemporary tilted film, but that’s okay. I can’t get everything I want.

America Ferrara was lively as Astrid, Hiccup’s object of desire and Kirsten Dunst lookalike. Jonah Hill was funny as the Snotlout (and might’ve had the best name).

But, as good as everyone was, there was no one that was more perfectly matched to their character than the lead, Jay Baruchel.

His voice perfectly fit the spindly Hiccup’s slightly put upon attitude. That’s not a backhanded compliment, BTW. His deadpan delivery made  a lot of good moments in the film, great ones.

I hope there’s a sequel. 4.5 of 5 whatevers. And that’s a high 4.5 . My gripes with it are hardly worth mentioning, so I won’t.


3 Responses to “How To Train Your Dragon Review (4.5 of 5)”

  1. are yur dragon real and what is yur number hiccup

  2. […] I went to see the original, I really didn’t have any expectations. in fact, I think I didn’t even want to see it. […]

  3. […] How To Train Your Dragon (Way better than I was expecting and devoid of pop culture references which should be […]

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