"How to Train Your Dragon" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

11/15/2010 Posted by Admin

"How to Train Your Dragon" 

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, Written by Sanders, DeBlois, Peter Tolan and Adam F. Goldberg, 98 Minutes, Rated PG

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"How to Train Your Dragon" is a wonderful fantasy set on the mythical island of Berk, where vikings have been at constant war with neighboring dragons for generations. Like many great fantasies, it concerns a young man who, despite the fate his family line has given him, rises above the life he's forced to live and learns quite a bit about himself in the process.

The young man is Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), son of the viking's leader Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler). Stoick and his men venture off one day to seek the nest of the dragons to rid them of their land once and for all, but while he's gone, Hiccup happens upon a wounded dragon himself. After finding that he doesn't have it in him to kill the poor creature, he instead befriends and tames him, and his newfound knowledge of dragons puts his and his whole clan's world in upheaval.

The film has some of the best animation Dreamworks ever has produced--sharp, fluid and absolutely gorgeous; the scenery, flame effects, dragons, humans, water, etc., has a painterly quality that balances realism with Brad Bird-esque character design, which suits the story perfectly. The numerous flight and action sequences are absolutely breathtaking, and a few moments where flames erupt from dimly lit clouds is nearly unmatched by the rest of Dreamworks' oeuvre. Impressive, considering directors' Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois general lack of experience in computer animation (the former Disney animators are perhaps best known for "Lilo & Stitch"). One of the greatest accomplishments in the animation is the transition of the dragons from fierce, violent monsters in the beginning of the film to more relatable, human-like creatures later on. Even in the first act or so of the film, where we only get brief glimpses of the dragons, little details in the animation of their faces hints at an untapped lovability that is really clear when we finally meet Toothless, the dragon Hiccup tames.

Unlike most Dreamworks films (and even the majority of Pixar's), "How to Train Your Dragon" also is a heartfelt and human drama more than it is a comedy or action film, and the comedy always pops up organically, as opposed to something like "Madagascar," where character or story is sacrificed for slapstick humor and unnecessary pop culture references. Yes, there's some of that here, but never so much that it takes precedent over the story.

At it's most basic, "Dragon" is pretty much a story about conflict and the ability of a younger generation to rid themselves of the conflicts of the older. It's also a very sweet story about a son trying to find the acceptance of his father, and Baruchel and Butler both give their characters a lot personality just with their voices (though it's rather bizarre that everyone has a Scottish accent except for Hiccup--but what can you do?).

So, with breathtaking animation (about the best I've seen in recent years, certainly on par with "Up") and a very sweet little tale, "How to Train Your Dragon" remains one of the best films of the year thus far.

Grade: A

View WeekinRewind's video preview of "How to Train Your Dragon" below. What are your thoughts?

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