HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: How to Train Your Dragon - Special Edition
HTS Overall Score:97
“How to Train Your Dragon” is easily Dreamworks Pictures best film to date, in my opinion. With their previous works they showed potential, and with the “Shrek” series they showed they could be almost as good as Disney or Pixar. With “How to Train Your Dragon” they finally proved that they could run with the big boys. It has heart, it has humor, and my goodness, and does it have audio and video ability. Their quality has always been excellent, but this release goes above and beyond, with stellar audio and video and a copious amount of extras they have proven once more that the Mouse House and the place that invented Toy Story are not the ONLY kings of animation. Dave Upton has already written a fantastic review on the story description, so I will copy that in as bolded material for reference, my job here with this particular review is to analyze the audio, the video and the new extras listed.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a viking, or at least he's supposed to be a viking. A member of a small but proud island settlement Hiccup is the son of the village chief Stoic the Vast (Butler) - the only problem is that he's a runt, all brains and no brawn. On Hiccup's island every day is a battle for survival against hordes of dragons that constantly seek to steal their livestock and destroy their buildings. Without the strength or will to fight, Hiccup is an obvious misfit with an unfortunate tendency to break things and cause accidents. Working for the blacksmith Gobber (Ferguson) Hiccup gets the opportunity to invent contraptions to make up for his physical shortcomings, and one of these is a net launcher. Most vikings can capture a dragon by putting it into a headlock and wrestling the beast to the ground - but poor Hiccup doesn't have a hope. Instead, Hiccup plans to use his net launcher to catch a Night Fury, the most fearsome type of dragon there is - completely silent and never before killed or captured.
Hiccup sneaks from the village one evening in the midst of a battle to kill his first dragon, he sits on the clifftop watching when a streak of purple flame shoots accross the sky. Hiccup takes careful aim and fires, and is astonished to find that his shot knocks the invisible target from the sky in the nearby forest.
The next day Hiccup treks out into the forest to see what he has captured. What he finds is a large black dragon tangled in nets and breathing with difficulty. Hiccup draws his knife, all he has to do is make the killing blow and finally he will become an accepted member of his people. Hiccup raises the blade over his head and closes his eyes - wincing at what he is about to do. Hiccup hears the dragon turn its head in resignation and pauses - realizing that the dragon is as scared as he is.
In a moment of reckless impulse, Hiccup slices the lines holding the dragon in captivity and attempts to turn and run. The beast has Hiccup on his back within a heartbeat - Hiccup is terrified. His people believe that a dragon always goes for the kill, without exception. Hiccup is convinced he is about to die - yet the dragon simply roars at his face and bounds away through the forest.
Over the following weeks Hiccup learns he is going to be forced to take the dragon training course in his village - he cannot bring himself to kill a creature after his recent experiences and runs to the forest in desperation. Hiccup heads in the direction where the Night Fury ran off - hoping he will see where it went. What he finds is that the dragon is trapped in a large depression, unable to fly due to damage to his tail. Over the course of weeks Hiccup befriends the dragon and earns his trust, naming him Toothless.
When Hiccup's village eventually learns of Toothless' existence and captures him Hiccup must confront the realization that everything he and his people believe about dragons is false and risk everything to save an unlikely friend.
Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=18898[/img]“How to Train Your Dragon” is a truly exemplary experience in animation. I don’t say this often, but it’s really a “Pixar perfect” release. Animation is a treat to view in hi def, especially digital animation, as the lack of grain, and the perfectly rendered characters look flat out dazzling. Character detail is flawless, from the individual hairs on King Stoick’s beard to the perfectly detailed scales on Toothless’ shiny body. The colors are simply sumptuous, richly saturated and covered in about every hue you could wish for, from the lush greens of the forest to the rich blues of the ocean and even the dark blacks and browns of the Viking castles. I’m truly amazed at how far Dreamworks pictures has come in their animation department. After watching “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” the other week, it’s extremely obvious that Dreamworks is vying for the same standards that Pixar and Disney have been sporting for so long. Black levels are beautiful and show incredible detail, even in the deep halls of the Viking horde. I really can’t see anything wrong with this encode. No digital anomalies and no compression artifacts make for a flat out perfect picture.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=18906[/img]This special edition version of “How to Train Your Dragon” sports the exclusive 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track that was only on the 3D version of the film. The 5.1 TrueHD track was a beast to be sure, but the 7.1 track adds in 2 more discrete channels that tend to push the track to a slightly higher heights. Like the 5.1 track, this one is an extremely immersive track that just vibrates with life and vitality. The surrounds are put to extensive use as the sounds of dragon battles bombard the listener with ambient noise and the clash of Viking weaponry from the moment the film starts. The dialogue is clean and clear, with strong mids and highs to boot. Not only that the track sports some fantastic separation as you hear the battle sounds and the flying sequences shift accurately from location to location, the wind whipping by your ears, the sound of a spear tinking into a wall to your left and the rush from the front soundstage as Toothless dives straight out of the sky. Now what track is not complete without a little bit of LFE. Now if we were given just a LITTLE bit of LFE I’d be a bit disappointed, but fear not, the LFE is there in spades. Deep, low, and VERY aggressive the LFE shocks you with incredible power, a slamming door alone making you jump out of your seat in fright. When they actually get to the end battle sequences I could feel my pant legs flapping from the crushing waves of bass that was hitting me from my subs. This is truly a fantastic track that is bar none, one of my favorite audio experiences to enjoy.
• New Episode of Dreamworks "Dragons: Defenders of Berk"
• Ultimate Book of Dragons
• Trivia Track
• The Book of Dragons
• Animators Corner
• Trivia Track
• Viking Sized Cast
• The Story Behind the Story
• How to Draw a Dragon
• The Artistry Behind a Dragon
• Gobbers Training Secrets
On the DVD
• Legend of the BoneKnapper Dragon
• Deleted Scenes
• Filmmakers Commentary
"How to Train Your Dragon" is by far Dreamworks' shining achievement. It's the perfect combination of heart, silliness and adult moments that blends seamlessly together into a work of art. I loved it the moment I watched it several years ago, and it hasn't lost it's charm after many subsequent viewings. This special edition is not just a cheap repackage. With loads of special features and a ton of old ones combined with the exclusive 7.1 track from the 3D set this is the definitive 2D release to date. If you're not an extras person, than the added 7.1 track is worth it alone, if you love special features, then this disc is a veritable treasure trove of goodies. Throw in the Hollywood Movie Money code on the front of the release to see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and it's a must watch, must own, must BUY, this release is pure gold.
Starring: Craig Ferguson, Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler
Directed by: Dean Deblois, Chris Sanders
Written by: William Davies, Dean Deblois
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Dreamworks Studios
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 27th, 2014
Buy How to Train Your Dragon Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It
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