Monday, May 03, 2010

Movie Review: "How to Train Your Dragon"

**Spoilers Included** I know, I know. The movie has been out for weeks and you probably already know that it has a 98% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. But I can't help myself. I finally got a chance to see it and I have to throw my recommendation out there for this great little film.

  How to Train Your Dragon is the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the wry but scrawny son of Stoic the Vast (Gerard Butler) who stands out, and not in a good way, in his Viking village on the island of Berk. The Vikings have been in an ongoing war with dragons that regularly raid the village for food. Hiccup longs to distinguish himself by killing a dragon, and using a contraption he invented, brings down a Night Fury-- the most deadly of the dragons. Of course no one in the village believes Hiccup so he heads out the next day in search of the dragon he's sure he brought down. It turns out Hiccup did successfully bring down a Night Fury, but the dragon isn't dead and when the moment comes to kill the dragon, Hiccup can't do it. Hiccup frees the dragon, only to find that it's too injured to fly.

Unable to leave the dragon stranded and hungry, Hiccup starts to bring it food, and soon finds out that the dragons are not the mindless killers he has been raised to believe they are. Hiccup then designs an ingenious contraption that allows the dragon-- whom he has since named Toothless-- to fly, but only if Hiccup is riding on his back and making the proper adjustments. Bonding with Toothless turns out to be an eye-opener in many ways for Hiccup as he begins to understand the mannerisms of all the dragons and how to tame them.
But the rest of the village isn't ready to hear about tame dragons, and his father is readying the villagers to attack the dragon's nest.

 "How to Train Your Dragon" is just too cute for words. It has everything you want in a great family film; The dialog is quick, clever and funny for the adults and the dragons are colorfully cute and just busy enough for the kids. It's well written and paced beautifully so it never gets bogged down or has you looking at your watch.

And the visuals, oh my goodness, are terrific. Some of the animation has the so-realistic-it-looks-real quality to it and it's hard not to be really impressed with how far Dreamworks has come. Most of the reviews you'll see will echo my sentiments-- with good reason-- though a few have tried to put a political spin on the movie (calling it "pacifist" or some such nonsense)-- but don't believe a word of that. It's a kids movie for Pete's sake and kids don't care a whit about war. They want to see a cute movie with a childlike-hero and a happy ending. It just so happens they get all of that wrapped up in a very charming package. I liked it so much I want to go right out and see it again.

13 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I reviewed it several weeks ago - excellent film! It really took me by surprise.

Sullivan McPig said...

I'm unsure about the movie. It looks really cool in the previews, but the voice of Hiccup doesn't really fit with the character I think.

Carrie said...

I loved this movie! Toothless was so adorable. We saw this right after we saw Kick Ass, and I have to say I liked this one a lot better. It was fun and cute and funny, AND it had dragons. Definitely one for the "to buy on DVD" list!

SQT said...

Alex-- I had heard it was good, and I was still surprised too. So cute.

Sullivan-- the kids' voices in the film are definitely different than the adults in that they don't have the Scottish accents. But they must have done that on purpose to make them identifiable to the audience. But Hiccup is fairly sarcastically written, so the voice fits IMO.

Carrie--I am so buying this. I didn't mention it in the review, but Toothless looks like my cat, which made the dragons doubly appealing to me. I really thought it was a wonderful film.

furiousBall said...

I haven't seen this, but my kids loved it with grandma!

S.M.D. said...

I completely agree with you about this one. I saw it a couple weeks back and loved it. A definite must-see flick :). And people who try to make political arguments against films all the time need to take a chillpill...it's a damned movie.

Charles Gramlich said...

this one barely made a blip on my radar but after your comments I'll keep an eye open for it when it comes on PPV.

SQT said...

FB-- I'm so glad I got to take the kids on this one.

S.M.D.-- I know! Politics isn't the last word on everything. Sometimes a movie is just a movie. Can't people just enjoy something once in awhile?

Charles-- I think you'd like this one. Definitely worth seeing.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I am looking forward to seeing this. To be honest, the majority of the films I see are during the summer, when I'm out of school. However, I want to catch this before it slips from the big screen. And then there's Iron Man.

SQT said...

Stu-- Soooo looking forward to Iron Man. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

ShadowFalcon said...

You've sold me plus after how much I enjoy princess and the frog I know you'll be right about this one too. Bring on the 3d glasses

SQT said...

ShadowFalcon-- I can't swear to the 3D. We chose to see it in 2D. The glasses just kill me.

Time4u Book Review said...

I took my son to watch this and he loved every minute, highly recomended.