From the people who have brought us “Shrek”, “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” comes DreamWorks latest animated feature and it is a tale of Vikings and dragons. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Well, while there are some humourous and exciting flying/action sequences what really was at the heart of the film was the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father and trying to figure out his path in life. Basically a coming-of-age film. Meaning it was more touching than I thought it would be. I thought I was there primarily to laugh, but found myself genuinely moved on several occasions. At several points in the film I had to admit to having some water in my eyes. If you catch my drift.
Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, “How to Train Your Dragon” is the story of Hiccup (voiced by Montrealer Jay Baruchel), a teenage Viking, who has always dreamed of being a great dragon slayer like his father, Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler). Things don’t work out that way for Hiccup and he doesn’t really fit in with the rest of his village. In order to keep his clumsy son safe his father keeps Hiccup working with the village’s one armed, one legged weapon maker (voiced by Craig Ferguson). This doesn’t make Hiccup very happy. Or popular.
After some trepidation and leeriness on the part of the dragon the two begin to trust one another and Hiccup even names the dragon Toothless. Hiccup realizes the dragon cannot fly because of the damage to one of its rear rudders. Being an inventor of sorts, Hiccup is able to fashion a device in order to replace it. This allows boy and dragon to fly together.
All this experience, which he keeps secret from everyone, allows Hiccup to have the upperhand on all the other kids in dragon slaying class and gives him insight into the fact that dragons are not the killing machines that every other Viking thinks they are. They only slay things to bring back to the giant dragon in their nest. The same nest that his father is searching for to destroy. You know there is going to be some conflict down the road.
This is a film that is great for the entire family (except for the most sensitive of types) no matter the age. While it is a crowd pleaser, it is not your usual animated fair with its character development and emotional complexity. This is a smart film filled with plenty of imagination. At certain points when the Vikings were spewing their stuff about the dragons, which they had little to no real information about, you had to wonder if it was alluding to what governments in the so-called developed countries today are saying about Arab/Muslim societies. The film really hits home that it is silly to fear what you don’t know.
- Frozen Episode of DreamWorks’ Dragons: Defenders of Berk
- Book of Dragons
- The Ultimate Book of Dragons
- The Animators’ Corner
- Trivia Track
- Viking-Sized Cast
- How to Draw a Dragon
- The Story Behind the Story
- The Technical Artistry of Dragon
- Gobbler’s Training Secrets
- Filmmakers’ Commentary
- Digital Copy