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How To Train Your Dragon

November 12, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

This kids film hits on a level that is normally reserved to Pixar films. It is cute, funny, and extremely well made. There likely is a message in the film, but it doesn’t get caught up in it, but instead lets the simple story move the film along and does a very good job of creating memorable characters.

The story is that of a young boy who doesn’t fit into his village of Vikings. He isn’t tough enough and just doesn’t seem Viking enough instead spending more time inventing things (and these inventions are generally for taking down dragons), but that isn’t the Viking way. Things change when there is a particularly bad dragon attack and many of the adults in the village go off to find the dragon’s lair and destroy them. Hiccup, the main character, and the other youngsters are left to be trained and to become dragon slayers themselves. Hiccup, however, has taken down a dragon during the last attack and goes off into the woods to find it, and finds out that dragons might not be as bad and dangerous as the villagers think.

The voice talent in this film is great. Jay Baruchel does a good job as Hiccup, and the rest of the talent, which is fairly well recognizable doesn’t over shadow the story. This is one thing that I’ve noticed about some animated films where the magnitude of the names doing voices in the films often outweigh the characters and the story in the film. Instead of a character being that character, they are the actor as that character. This film uses fairly big names, but not huge names, and I think that helps. Even Gerard Butler, probably the biggest name doesn’t over shadow his character. And you end up routing for the characters.  Jonah Hill does a good job of playing the bumbling meat head of a Viking who is all about the violence and only the violence, and American Ferrera does a great job as Astrid, the love interest in the film.  Craig Ferguson and David Tennant help fill out a very good cast, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, of Superbad fame, does a good job voicing a character who means well, but is a bit of an idiot at times.  Mintz-Plasse’s character reminds me a bit of Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter at times.

Visually this is well animated film, the variety of the dragons is very well done and the expressions, especially from Toothless (the main dragon) are simply phenomenal. Visually it is on par with Pixar, and normally where DreamWorks has been lacking is the story, but in this case, it is on par with Pixar again. Cressida Cowell’s book is masterfully turned into a film.

This is a film that is definitely worth checking out. Everything comes together with the story, the characters, voice talent, and the animation, and while that has become more common, it is still a lot of fun to watch a film like this one. I would definitely recommend watching it if you get the chance.

Critical Grade: B+
Entertainment Grade: A
Overall Grade: A-

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