A few months back I had been aware that there was a movie by the name of How To Train Your Dragon that was going to be released. The movie itself was not on my radar as a movie I was sure I was going to see. Fast forward to release date I had become more aware but the overwhelmingly positive buzz surrounding it thrust it into my must see list. I can now say that I am immensely glad I did so, as few movies have left me feeling so excited at what I’d just watched and had as deep an emotional impact while having such a simple story. I see many movies that I love for a variety of different reasons, and I have a soft spot for computer animated movies, but How To Train Your Dragon far and away surpassed even the wildest expectations I could have had for it.
How To Train Your Dragon follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who dreams of being a tough viking like his father Stoick (Gerard Butler), who is also the leader of the viking village. Hiccup however lacks the physical prowess that the other vikings possess. During an attack by the dragons that pillage their town Hiccup is able to snag an elusive and rare dragon the villagers refer to as “Night Fury” and noone sees him net the dragon and therefore do not believe him. He goes out in search for his capture and after finding it he realizes he does not have the heart to kill the creature. Hiccup sets the dragon free and finds that it has been injured after capture. Hiccup nurtures and develops a bond with the dragon he names Toothless. Stoick, unaware of his sons project orders him to attend dragon battle training and learn to kill dragons while he goes off with his vikings in search of their nest. Hiccup learns more and more about the dragons and realizes that everything his people know about them is all wrong.
I have very few complaints about the film, and the ones I have do not hinder my enjoyment of it even the slightest bit. The story is simple and has lots of things we’ve seen in countless different movies, but they are done exceedingly well here. From Hiccup developing the bond with Toothless, and wanting to earn his father’s acceptance, they’ve all been done, but the storytelling is exceptional and makes these elements have a surprising emotional impact to them.
The 3D is also done perfectly. It adds tremendously to the flight and action sequences, making them incredibly exciting and thrilling to watch. It adds a great deal of depth to even the least thrilling sequences, and this is the first time I actually forgot I was wearing the annoying 3D glasses.
Many of the characters are not as memorable as I may have liked but the voice cast is very good, besides Baruchel and Butler we also have Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, T.J. Miller, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, America Ferrera, and Kristen Wig that round out the rest of the main cast. However, the characters with no speaking parts steal the show, which are Toothless and his reptile counterparts. Toothless quickly becomes the most endearing character of the movie and you gain an incredible sense of attachment to what happens with him and his bond with Hiccup.
The animation is done very well and is stunning at times. The action sequences look beautiful and add to all the thrills you experience throughout, especially during the climactic sequence. The character designs as far as the vikings go are not overly creative, but work for the movie. The dragons look amazing and their movements are convincing. You won’t be tricked to thinking you’re watching a live action movie at any point, but that’s part of what makes the emotional connection and excitement all the more incredible. The fact that a made up animated world can be more effective and engaging than a real world setting in live action films is not an easy task but How To Train Your Dragon pulls it off.
I normally don’t put a whole lot of enjoyment in the score movies use, though if done well or used horribly I will acknowledge it, and I’m appreciating music used in movies more and more. The music here was fantastic, it invested my attention even more to each scene and often lend its hand to giving me goose bumps in the emotional scenes. Any film that combines so many different elements to each scene and affects me like this film has becomes instantly memorable.
Overall, How To Train Your Dragon is a thrilling and touching family film that is infinitely entertaining, beautifully animated, carries a great deal of emotional depth and boast spectacular 3D sequences. All of these features add up to a movie experience that should not be missed.