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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

An animated family fantasy film released by Dreamworks.

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A Boy and His Dragon

  • Apr 13, 2010
Rating:
+5
Dreamworks has always been dominant in the the animation field, but that has never made their movies that were great.  They had Shrek, which was very clever and very unique and original.  But most times when watching a Dreamworks production you're hit with a lot of pop culture references and whatnot.  The exception being Kung Fu Panda which showed a different side of Dreamworks.  How to Train Your Dragon merely perfects what Kung Fu Panda began.  It focuses on being a heartfelt family film rather than being a satire like so many other Dreamworks films out there.  It works, however.  How to Train Your Dragon is by far the best effort that Dreamworks has done thus far.

There is a reason why Pixar is usually at the top of their game.  They have a lot of simple humor and simple stories that aren't beyond that of a child's understanding, but heartfelt and touching enough for an adult.  Films like Finding Nemo and Wall-E solidified this within Pixar (with Wall-E still being the best Pixar has to offer).  Dreamworks caught on to this and this is exactly why How to Train Your Dragon works.  It's a lot of fun and a lot of entertainment for the whole family.  There are minor nitpicks with How to Train Your Dragon, but there's nothing here that makes it unenjoyable. 

The film begins with a Viking village being attacked by dragons.  The main character, Hiccup, introduces us to life in this village.  His father is a famous Viking who has slain many dragons.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though Hiccup inherited those particular genes.  Where as his father is very brawny, Hiccup is very scrawny.  He can barely lift an axe.  One dragon in particular named Night Fury really causes havoc.  He can't be seen.  Hiccup takes a lucky shot with bolas and manages to hit Night Fury and bring him down.  No one believes that he has seeing as how the incident occured at night. 

True enough, Hiccup is no real Viking.  When he gets a chance he ventures out into the woods and finds Night Fury.  To his own surprise, he can't kill Night Fury and instead decides to free him.  If there's one thing that becomes clear, it's that Night Fury is unable to kill Hiccup either.  Just as Hiccup has discovered these things, his father decides that he needs training to be a Viking.  For one day the war against dragons will belong to his generation.  Except Hiccup is not much for strength.  His peers don't like him and his father is a little embarrassed.  Once his father sets off on a journey to find the Dragon's nest, Hiccup begins sneaking off to see the Night Fury he downed and finds that the dragon can't fly because of a damaged tail.  This is something he immediately notes.  "A downed dragon is a dead dragon," his father friend says.  But Hiccup isn't interested in killing Night Fury.  He's interested in learning about the dragon.  The more he learns, the more he comes to discover that not only is everything they know about dragons wrong (they're all vicious and must be killed on sight) but he learns that they can be domesticated.  

Unfortunately, no one would stand for it if they knew he was actually keeping a dragon for a pet.  So he must keep the Night Fury Dragon (whom he names Toothless) a secret.  On the other hand, what he learns serves him well in the training arena.  The training that he and his peers undergo does involve real dragons.  And thanks to the things he's learned about Toothless, he is able to survive through training.  Not just survive, but become a celebrity of sorts.  But what would the vikings think if they knew he had a dragon of his own?  Even worse, what would his father think?  And how long before they all discover that Hiccup is incapable of killing a dragon?

It is that last portion of my summary that makes How to Train Your Dragon such an enchanting movie.  Hiccup in and of himself is a very likable character.  He's scrawny and nerdy, but that only adds to his charm.  Of all the characters he definitely stands out.  As Hiccup works with Toothless and forms a friendship it is very heartfelt and touching.  From time to time you'll be hit with this warm fuzzy feeling watching as they interact.  There are other characters that are, sadly, not featured much.  There are, of course, the peers that Hiccup trains with, but the only one worth knowing anything about is Astrid who is one really tough girl.  The other peers don't exactly get a lot of focus.  Neither do you really learn anything about them.  In fact, aside from Hiccup and his father you don't learn too much about any of the characters, but it's not something that you'll mind.  How to Train Your Dragon isn't exactly a movie that's brimming with depth.  On the other hand the most important characters undergo very important changes.  The main mystery of How to Train Your Dragon is also quite unique.  I won't spoil it, I will only say that just when you're certain about where the movie is headed, it will introduce other elements to its story that keep things interesting.  The movie itself isn't very long.  It's roughly 85 minutes long.  It'll fly by too because it's just so enjoyable.  The writing is great, the humor is perfect, but most important the two characters you are to care most about, are the ones that you'll enjoy the most.  

The voice acting is also very awesome and energetic.  The voice talents include the likes of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, and Craig Ferguson.  There are several other voice talents.  It's a very good ensemble cast and they all really embody their roles.  You'll be glad to hear some of your favorite voices (well, adults will... because... I can't imagine too many kids saw movies like Tropic Thunder, Knocked Up and Superbad, ya know?). 

The cinematography and the music are among the best moments.  It's easy to feel like you're being taken for a ride as well.  The movie pulls no punches with its story or with it's adventure aspect.  None of it is heavy handed, and it follows a formula that has worked time and time again.  How to Train Your Dragon shows that it isn't the idea that's important, but that it's the execution.  It's hard not to enjoy the film.  It is by far the best that Dreamworks has to offer.  The animation may not be as charming as something you'd see in a Pixar film, but it's still a wonderful film that is enough to rival the best of what Pixar has given us.

It's worth your time to go and see.  For years Dreamworks has struggled with making the perfect family film.  They've been getting better over the years.  How to Train Your Dragon shows what Dreamworks is capable of.  It follows a formula, sure, but it presents itself very well with charming characters and good humor.

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April 18, 2010
I hope I enjoy this as much as you did. I'll be seeing it tomorrow.
 
April 14, 2010
My friend, I loved this movie! I liked this better than UP honestly. excellent review!
April 14, 2010
I have to admit, I liked Dragon more than UP too, and I gave them both a +5.  It was really good.
April 16, 2010
The screenplay in "Dragon" had elements borrowed from other movies, but damn it was so good in utilizing what was great about each one that it became methodical; it enthralled the audience.
April 16, 2010
In the end it's all about the execution of those elements more so than the elements themselves.  It's like paint.  By itself it's nothing but colors, but put it on a canvas and suddenly it has use, right?  But what you make with that paint can turn out good or bad.  How to Train Your Dragon manages to blend everything together so well in an era where many movies that try this same formula can fall flat.
April 26, 2010

UP was really overrated in my opinion.

April 26, 2010
I really liked UP and thought it was really good, although the whole second half was a little far-fetched.  It was still enjoyable. 
 
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More How to Train Your Dragon reviews
review by . March 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ Stars: MAY Well Become the BEST Animated Movie of 2010!! ....it's NO Son of a
Dreamworks animation has often been regarded as the “Poor man’s Pixar” since its animated films are more or less a hit or miss. Well, after the sleeper hit "Monsters Vs. Aliens", the company is once again poised to redeem itself with “How To Train Your Dragon” which is based on the book with the same name. This latest film directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois has enough thought-provoking morale themes, stunning animation, as well as an invaluable …
review by . February 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     You can count on animated films to be good when live action films just aren't. While this is definitely a good thing to count on, some animated films are just bad, and yes, as bad as the live-action flicks are. This is not the case with Dreamworks Animation's first of three 2010 animated offerings. In fact, "How to Train Your Dragon" is the best thing that Dreamworks has had to offer since "Shrek". Yeah, they've come out with some pretty solid stuff from time …
review by . December 30, 2010
i hear so much hype about this movie, so i decide to see it. the animation was unbeliveable,i forgot i was watching a movie. i am really intrested about the movie, so i check out all the special features and all(i watched it on DVD) that, and all the effort into this movie, the hundreds of crew and cast, the animation, like i said, was great,it was fantastic. but i am looking forward to see some other great animation hits, so for right now, this is the best  9.5 out of 10 stars  4.5 …
review by . November 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
DreamWorks Builds its Masterpiece
   With a review title as ambitious as mine, some justification is definitely in order.  See unlike Pixar (with a little help of the Disney promotion machine), animated hits with the potential to become pop culture icons aren’t a given for DreamWorks.  Sure they’ve had Shrek but ask anyone and you’ll discover that 4 feature films and a variety of spin-offs have milked the franchise past its worth.  Kung-Fu Panda came next with signs of brilliance.  …
review by . December 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Out from DreamWorks' animation studio is a tale based on two aggressive yet extinct species, dragons and Vikings. Interesting enough, How to Train Your Dragon strays away from stereotyping these two prolific breeds, giving them a fresh interpretation. Hiccup, the main protagonist (voiced by Jay Baruchel), is illustrated as the lanky outcast whose father is the leader of the violent pack of dragon hunters. In addition, his dragon counterpart, Toothless, isn't the barbaric creature that Vikings …
review by . April 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Dragons have had a pretty checkered history on the silver screen. There have been some good efforts (Reign of Fire, Dragonslayer, Dragonheart) and some terrible misfires (Dungeons and Dragons, Eragon) over the years, but all have fallen short of delivering the definitive dragon movie. The rather clunkily titled How to Train Your Dragon, directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, may well be that movie.      Since its formation in 1994, Dreamworks has always been standing in …
review by . March 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   We always seem to go through phases when it comes to popular genres and topics of entertainment.  We have the year of 3D (which I'm still debating as to whether I should actually be excited or not), the year of remakes (that has become YEARS and I wish would seriously end), the year of cheapquels/sequels (which some films have promise and others are straight to DVD quality), and of course the year of the "underdog"/geek(which is by far my favorite).  3 months …
review by . April 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
  Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a young boy living on an island with the great vikings. He explains in the beginning that it is a very old land, but with new houses. This is because their houses are constantly being burned down by the firery breath of dragons, who they are always in battle with. Hiccup is the son of a high in rank viking Stoick (Gerard Butler) who is ashamed of his son because he fails to be the dragon fighter he is supposed to. So to prove himself Hiccup shoots down a never before …
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
How to Train a Dragon is a coming of age movie. The usual stuff. The overbearing father, with the son who embarrasses him because of his lack of mini-me-ness, tries to force said son to man-it-up and get on with it already. Son does the one thing he can think of to impress his whole village but screws even that up. But while doing so he discovers truth that will change everything his dad, his whole village, his whole world believed. Add humor, fighting, action and a few scary moments, make it animated, …
review by . August 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'm a middle aged adult, but you'll never hear me whine, 'We didn't have 3D when I was a kid!' Well, part of the deal is being a middle aged adult nowadays means you can keep making up for lost time. Oh, yes, we had 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,' 'Oliver!' and the first release of 'Star Wars,' but kids nowadays have never had it so good. Call it middle life crisis. Call me the middle-aged man who can't grow up, or call me just genuinely honest, but I was thoroughly satisfied with this …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
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Wiki

How to Train Your Dragon is a CGI animated fantasy film by DreamWorks Animation loosely based on the 2003 book of the same title. The film stars the voice talents of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, and David Tennant. The story takes place in a mythical Viking world where a young Viking teenager named "Hiccup" aspires to follow his tribe's tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon, and with his chance at finally gaining the tribe's acceptance, he finds that he no longer has the desire to kill it and instead befriends it. The film was released March 26, 2010.

Poster art for "How to Train Your Dragon: An IMAX 3D Experience."

Characters

  • Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is the main character in these books. He is an unusual Viking who thinks before he does anything. He has red hair and is very thin. He is one of the only people ever to understand and be able to speak Dragonese, the language of the dragons. He is abnormally clever for a Viking, and a good swordfighter. His hunting dragon isToothless, a small dragon that is a common or garden dragon. Hiccup's best friend Fishlegs claims that Hiccup's dragon is a Toothless Daydream, a mythical and rare type of dragon, to fool Hiccup's father Stoick the Vast and those around him.
  • Toothless is Hiccup's hunting dragon. Just like his name suggests, he has no teeth. He used to have one tooth, but it fell out in a ...
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Details

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: March 26, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 98 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Dreamworks
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