Review: How To Train Your Dragon
PLOT: Hiccup is small, weak and not nearly the son his father was hoping for. Well, especially since his father is a mean and fearsome Viking. The one hope the boy has is to somehow kill a dragon and prove to his dad that he is more than meets the eye. And one night, when he finally gets a shot, he is able to bring one of the most feared dragons down. Of course, the beast falls much too far away from the village for Hiccup to get the acceptance he is looking for. So when he finds the monster, with the intention of killing it, he realizes it is just as afraid of him. Is this the beginning of a beautiful dragon/Viking friendship? I dare say it is!
Who doesnt like dragons? It seems logical to make a large budget animated movie in 3D about them. Yet instead of just trying to make a lame brain Hollywood action film with those crazy fire breathers, DreamWorks offers something pretty grand. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is a sweet and exciting look at the mythological beasts and their war against Vikings. And yes, this is another round of 3D fun which will please many, and annoy a few. Is 3D a trend? Sure it is. Will it last is the question. Truthfully, the better the movies that are being made, the longer it will stick around. Although with any trend, it wont be shocking when we see more bad 3D flicks in theatres as opposed to good ones. And what how to Train Your Dragon does so well is tell a warm and exciting story with a lot of heart. It truly is a fire breathing good time at the cinema.
The story however, is a familiar one. The unlikeliest of heroes somehow inspires all those around him to change. And this hero is Hiccup, and he is voiced by Jay Baruchel. Not only does the animation sort of remind me of Jay, everything about the character seems to be just right. Hiccup is the wimpy son of the head honcho Viking called Stoick (Gerard Butler). Young Hiccup can barely earn his keep working as an apprentice to Gobber (Craig Ferguson) and always disappointing his pappy. But he longs to be great and make his father proud. Any chance he gets he attempts to be a hero, but fails every single time. That is until one very monstrous evening when the entire village falls under attack from the dreaded dragon. In fact, it is a ton of dragons that breathe fire and do whatever it is that dragons do. Hiccup runs off and by sheer luck and good timing, he is able to bring down one of the most dangerous creatures of all time the Night Fury.
And much like youd expect from an animated tale, he tracks down this beast with the intent to kill it. Why that will certainly bring him respect and love from his father. But when he finally finds the dragon, hurt and barely able to fly a few feet up thanks to the damage he caused, he cant bring himself to kill it. He does however try and help this wounded monster. You could call him the dragon whisperer. And of course, a friendship develops, as he learns quite a bit about the winged monster. This helps him back in the village, as he is able to use the skills he learns on the dragons used for training with the young Vikings. And while much of this may sound clichéd and been there, done that, I have to say that it is surprisingly fresh. There is humor and joy and it manages to entertain not only the children, but the parents too.
When it comes to the look of the film, I was absolutely impressed. I had the opportunity to see it in IMAX in 3D and really enjoyed the experience. In many ways, when Hiccup is able to take flight with his dragon friend Toothless (and ironic name he gives to the Night Fury), it reminded me of Sam Raimis SPIDER MAN. When Peter Parker first learned that he could leap and swing over the streets of New York, it was just as exciting for the audience. Well, the same can be said here. I was absolutely moved to see the connection between him and his dragon as they raced through the sky. That is some pretty awesome stuff. In fact, the entire relationship the two shared really made the movie work, even if it sometimes felt a bit too familiar. After all, this is a movie made for children. But thankfully it respects its audience enough without sticking to cheap shots and bad jokes.
Co-Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (LILO AND STITCH) truly bring the story to life. Based on a childrens book by the same name, theyve managed to maintain some of the spirit and charm. Sure theyve changed the story around a bit, and theyve added a sort of epic quality to it, but they do well by the source material. It is always refreshing to sit through a movie made for children and not feel beaten over the skull by a lame message, or be inundated with dookie jokes. The only problem is, now I want a dragon of my own. How to Train Your Dragon is a flaming good time with tons of 3D action and a great story and yes, I did say flaming! My rating 8.5/10 -- JimmyO
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