Reviewed by Tempest
No alternate review available
Everything we know about them is wrong.
Dreamwork has produced numerous animated movies such as Shrek (2001), Spirit (2002) and Kung Fu Panda (2008) to name a few. So their latest addition is How to Train Your Dragon (2010) that is set in the world of vikings and dragons. The movie is rather loosely based on a book of the same name written by Cressida Cowell. To make a long story short, the title "How to Train Your Dragon" makes a lot more sense for the book than for the movie (i.e. in the movie the vikings hunt dragons; in the book, they train them).
How to Train Your Dragon (2009) is an interesting movie. The story isn't something groundbreaking; the concept of an enemy not really being your enemy has been used before but the movie remains original in its approach toward the "problem"; part of trying to learn about dragon and then realizing that there is just that little somethign that doens't match reality. The story has a surprisingly elaborated (for a movie) reason for having Hiccup having Toothless the Night Fury the dragon as a friend, much more elabrorate than "I save/found you, now be my mount". But to be honest, they slightly trivialize Hiccup-Toothless special relationship later on in the movie while making it stronger at the same time. Said like this, it doesn't make much sense but if you see the ending, you will understand. Again, the ending may be about making the movie more in line with the book. I can't tell you more without giving out spoilers. In a more general manner, the main character and his Night Fury dragon are showing strength in the face of adversity, a positive outlook despite facing things that preal people would have difficulties to cope with and even if the plot focus on a struggle between the vikings and dragons, the violence remain bloodless without going into something too unrealistic.
The movie tell the story of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), a viking teenageer whose village is plagued by decades of dragons attacks stealing their livestock. He works as an apprentice for Gobber (voiced by Craig Ferguson), a black smith who lost his left arm and his right leg while battling dragons. In Hiccup's village, killing a dragon is everything and by doing so, he expects his life to get better by being more respected and more popular with girls. Unfortunately, Hiccup has neither the skills or the stature to be a dragon slayer. In fact, he seems to be the opposite of his father, Stoick the Vast (voiced Gerard Butler), who is a strong and respected warrior and also the head of their village. Though, what Hiccup's lack in brute strength, he compensates with his ingeniosity and intelligence but often found himself in troubles when he try to do too much to impress his father, which only exasperate his father and others vickings in the village.
One day during an attack on his village by a swarm of dragons, he manages to successfully hit a Night Fury, some sort of highly feared dragon that no one has never seen (or at least survive the encounter to tell the tale), with some sort of bolas fired by a compact ballista-like weapon of his own design. Unfortunately for Hiccup, during the heat of the battle no one has seen him hit the dragon and no one believe him to be able of doing such feat, expecially his father. Neverhteless, the next morning, Hiccup decides to look for the dragon he believe to have killed and finally found it entangled in the forest not far from his village. While he think about taking back the dragon's heart to his father to prove he is a worthy dragon slayer, the dragon awaken and he realize that the dragon wasn't dead but merely unconcious. He still intend for a moment to kill the dragon but as the creature look back at him, he is unable to strike it. So he decides to free the dragon and the dragon instead of fleeing away, jump back on him ready to kill Hiccup. However, just like a moment before, the dragon decides to let's Hiccup go when he could have easily killed him.
Hiccup returns to his village and decides to forget about his plan of being a dragon slayer since he can't and doesn't want to kill them. However, his father who never wanted him to enroll in dragon training (i.e. how to kill dragons), was convinced by Gobber that he will not be able to protect his son forever and he better let him try dragon training rather than having him wanders the forest alone looking for dragons by himself. Stoik and Hiccup found themselves again with opposite opinions but as usual his father doesn't really listen to his son objections and Hiccup is enrolled in dragon trainning. There he learns from Gobber that dragons never let anyone escape alive, which Hiccup finds strange since the Night Fury spared his live when he could easily have killed him. So he returns to the forest and found that the Night Fury is still there and seems trapped in a some sort of small valley surrounded by step cliff walls. As he wonders why the dragon remain here, he eventaully realize that a part of the dragon tail fin is missing and prevents the dragon from flying straight (and out of the small valley). He decides to use his skills to create a tail fin prosthesis for the dragon so he can fly again. As he spend more and more time with Toothless the Night Fury dragon (his name comes from the fact that the dragon can retract his teeth into his gums when not in use, giving him a toothless appearance), he realize that dragons are not the blood thirsty killers the people in his village think them to be...
Of course, the quality of the animation is quite amazing. It's not Avatar (2009) but clearly we will be seeing more and more movies using 3D and how this can be a powerful tool for animations. Visual effect are very well done, especially when Hiccup fly around on Toothless's back.
On the other hand, I would personally have preferred to have less caricaturesque dragons. For example, Toothless the Night Fury dragon looks like a dragon with normal proportions and a lot of care seems to have been placed on making him a believable flying creature (position of the fin and so on)... as for the other dragons, it's noticeably less so on both accounts. But it's intended to be a cartoon so, I won't nitpick too much about this.
Sound & Music:
Nothing extremely surprising in term of sountrack. It is not anythign urprising but remain appropriate for the situated the characters are facing.
The people voicing the characters do very good performance. They have managed to give them their personality and charm sometime when having very limited screen time. Stoik difficulties to discuss with his son is played increadibly well and in a very beliveable manner.
Most character are believable when considering that this movie is an animation and not take itself too seriously. Hiccups and Gobber then to place a few sacastic rebutals and some funny comment that seems a bit out of place when considering the context but aside the movie has beliveable characters. It's unfortunate however that there is not much screen time for the other teenagers present with Hiccups when he is in dragon training. It would be difficult to say much about Fishlegs (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Ruffnut (voiced by Kristen Wiig), Tuffnut (voiced by T.J. Miller) or Snotlout (voiced by Jonah Hill). Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) get a little more screen time and we can see a little more elaborated character but I do not have the impression these characters were developped enough. For example, Snotlout in the book was supposed to be Hiccup's nemesis but later on take Hiccup's side which made this reversal of position slightly inconsequential.
Note: the overall is not an average, but more a general appreciation of the movie as a whole.
R a t i n g
|Images:||(8.5/10) - Very Good|
|Sound & Music:||(7.5/10) - Good|
|Story line:||(6.5/10) - Average|
|Acting:||(6.5/10) - Average|
|Innovation:||(7.0/10) - Good|
|Educational Value or|
Level of Wisdom:
|(7.0/10) - Good|
|Overall:||(7.0/10) - Good
A rating of 5/10 should be considered as something not good but not bad either (# bad points = # good points).