Director: Dean DeBlois, ampoule Chris Sanders
Screenplay: Dean DeBlois, more info Adam F. Goldberg, doctor Chris Sanders, Peter Tolan
Release Date: March 26, 2010
Actors: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera
Based on the kid’s book of the same name ( Book 1) by Cressida Cowell
I’m still behind on publishing movie reviews that have, by now, left the theatre, or are currently in the theatre. I will get to it eventually, but I wanted to write this one since it is fresh and lovable in my eyes.
How to Train a Dragon is the story of a young, seemingly weak and scrawny Viking named Hiccup, trying to fit in with the rest of the Viking clan. The Vikings are a group of huge, muscular people, making their own tools, growing their own food and making their own fires. Their main hobby is killing dragons, as the Vikings and the Dragons have been killing each other for centuries. The dragons have been taking their livestock and food, and the Vikings have been killing dragons to prevent them from taking what is theirs. There are many different kinds of dragons, with the most dangerous of all being the Night Fury. The Night Fury shoots lightning, flies fast and is extremely hard to see. Hiccup, trying to prove to his people that he is worthy of being a Viking, in the midst of a battle, manages to shoot down a Night Fury from a distance. Unfortunately, his father Stoick (voiced by the wonderful Gerard Butler) does not believe him, and neither does the rest of the clan. As the Vikings head off to try and find the dragon’s nest, Stoick sends Hiccup to train to fight dragons with Gobber (voiced by Craig Ferguson), Stoick’s right hand man as well as Hiccup’s boss. Hiccup goes off to find the dragon that he shot down, and indeed finds him, still tied up in the rope that Hiccup sent. However, unable to bring himself to kill the Night Fury, he instead let him goes free. As the film progresses, Hiccup befriends the dragon, names him Toothless, and gradually finds more confidence in his dragon training class and gaining the respect of his father.
The film is in one word: splendid. Dreamworks has had some pretty sad, lazy and lifeless animations in the past, which made me question how good How to Train Your Dragon might be, but I found myself enjoying it almost as much as I do a Pixar film, and surprisingly even more than Dreamworks Animations’ last success, Kung Fu Panda (2008). Everything just came together in this film – the pacing, the story, the characters, the animation – all the elements balanced each other out. The story, while a very simple one, was effective. It was quite refreshing, as was the beautiful cinematography the film had to offer, especially during Toothless’ and Hiccup’s moments of flight, and completely endearing watching the two of them bond.
Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders were also the directors and creators of Lilo & Stitch (2002), a Disney animated movie that took people by surprise. They created Toothless in the creation of Stitch. Thinking back to Toothless and screen captures of this adorable dragon, I can see how Toothless looks like Stitch, especially in his ears. I’m hoping for another successful hit for Dreamworks as this hits the screen Friday, surpassing both Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. Though I don’t use Rotten Tomatoes normally as a measuring stick, it is surpassing both previous films with a 95% fresh rating, vs. 89% fresh for both Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.
The voice acting is superb, with Jay Baruchel (with two movies in the theatre at once with the other being She’s Out of My League), being the timid Hiccup. And who more appropriate to play the stocky than King Leonidis, Gerard Butler (who also has another film, The Bounty Hunter in theatres)? His big, boomy Scottish voice is the perfect Stoick, as is all the supporting actors and actresses who used their voice to bring these silly yet fun characters to the screen (Jonah Hill Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig) I also love the fact that Hispanic actress America Ferrera is playing a young caucasian blond.
So what do I say? Watch it! I didn’t catch it in 3D, but it was so much fun in 2D, that I no doubt believe that 3D would be pretty fun and even better on IMAX. This is DEFINITELY a movie that the entire family can see and enjoy. Some of the lines were downright hilarious, such as one that Gobber utters towards the end of the movie to Stoick when they’re about to go to battle. Let’s just put it this way: I want my own Toothless 🙂
Highly Recommended! 4.5 dragons / 5 dragons