How To Train Your Dragon
|Director:||Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders|
Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, this action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.
A winning mixture of adventure, slapstick comedy, and friendship, How to Train Your Dragon rivals Kung Fu Panda as the most engaging and satisfying film DreamWorks Animation has produced. Hiccup (voice by Jay Baruchel) is a failure as a Viking: skinny, inquisitive, and inventive, he asks questions and tries out unsuccessful contraptions when he’s supposed to be fighting the dragons that attack his village. His father, chief Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), has pretty much given up on his teenage son and apprenticed him to blacksmith Gobber (Craig Ferguson). Worse, Hiccup knows the village loser hasn’t a chance of impressing Astrid (America Ferrera), the girl of his dreams and a formidable dragon fighter in her own right. When one of Hiccup’s inventions actually works, he hasn’t the heart to kill the young dragon he’s brought down. He names it Toothless and befriends it, although he’s been taught to fear and loathe dragons. Codirectors and cowriters Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who made Disney’s delightful Lilo and Stitch, provide plenty of action, including vertiginous flying sequences, but they balance the pyrotechnics with moments of genuine warmth that make the viewer root for Hiccup’s success. Many DreamWorks films get laughs from sitcom one-liners and topical pop culture references; as the humor in Dragon comes from the characters’ personalities, it feels less timely and more timeless. Toothless chases the spot of sunlight reflected off Hiccup’s hammer like a giant cat with a laser pointer; Hiccup uses his newly found knowledge (and an icky smoked eel) to defeat two small dragons—and impress the other kids. How to Train Your Dragon will be just as enjoyable 10 or 20 years from now as it is today. (Rated PG: suitable for ages 8 and older, violence, some intense action and scary dragons) —Charles Solomon
Animation veteran John Powell provides the spectacularly epic score for choir and orchestra.