Title: How to Train Your Dragon
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller
Directed by: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Written by: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (Screenplay), Cressida Cowell (Novel)
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Runtime: 98 min
Release Date: March 26, 2010
Hiccup 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 - 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 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 capture 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 in on his back and its face in his 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.
How To Train Your Dragon is rated G - this is a family movie with a wonderful story presented in a tasteful manner.
In typical Dreamworks fashion this animated film is presented in both 2D and 3D formats with spectacular video quality. Unlike any animated film produced to date, How To Train Your Dragon was produced with the help of a cinematographer and uses limited lighting in many scenes which is a groundbreaking move for an animated film. The result is a tangible and believable world despite the charicature like animation style applied to the characters. The color pallete is extensive and entirely natural with great contrast and excellent deep blacks and shadow detail. This 3D version of the film has a remarkably natural feel that doesn't strain the eye or seem contrived at all. Dreamworks has taken many of the lessons learned from Monsters vs Aliens and has created an even better 3D experience for the viewer.
As many of you know Dreamworks is no stranger to aggressive sound mixes. Kung-Fu Panda remains one of the reference titles for both picture and audio quality. How To Train Your Dragon builds upon this same tradition with brilliant sound effects and aggressive use of the surround channels. Action sequences use the LFE track extensively but the overall effect integrates to form a pulsating vibrant soundfield that brings the action further out from the screen. Overall this is a terrific mix and worth experiencing.
How To Train Your Dragon is a superb story told with a perfect balance of humor, seriousness and respect for the intelligence of the viewer. The actions of each character have real and plausible repurcussions and the story is both uplifting and engrossing. A magnificent 3D experience with a powerful and engaging sound mix - How To Train Your Dragon will thrill children and adults alike with the likeable characters, touching story and a thrilling 3D presentation.
If there is one family film that I have seen in the past six months that is well worth seeing, this is it. Highly Reccommended.