Directed by: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
Premise: An animated film set in a mythical Viking village. As the village leaders train their youth to become the next generation of dragon slayers, a young blacksmith (voice of Jay Baruchel) tames a dragon and learns that everything the villagers believe about the beasts is wrong.
What Works: How to Train Your Dragon is a very impressive animated film. The depth in the cinematography, assisted by the 3-D effect, is some of the best seen recently and the detail and texture of the characters and settings makes the world of this film very believable. The stories in the animation genre often slip into cliché and while there are some familiar plot devices in How to Train Your Dragon, the film manages a lot of originality and its characters are very interesting to watch. The relationships between lead character Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel) and his father Stoick (voice of Gerard Butler, reprising his Leonidus voice from 300) and love interest Astrid (voice of America Ferrera) have a lot of reality to them and the film manages a lot of subtle moments between the characters that give those relationships more authenticity than many in live action films. How to Train Your Dragon is also unique in that it is a film whose appeal will cross equally between adults and children; the film includes regular doses of humor that are safe enough for a family audience but nevertheless elicit hearty laughs and the story is smart enough to engage viewers at a variety of ages and on a range of levels.
What Doesn’t: If How to Train Your Dragon has any fault it may be in the familiarity of some of the themes and scenarios. Viewers of Battle for Terra, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Avatar may recognize some of the sequences in this film.
Bottom Line: How to Train Your Dragon is a very well made film and a solid piece of entertainment. Although some elements may be familiar from other films, How to Train Your Dragon is generally the better picture.
Episode: #283 (April 11, 2010)