Sunday, March 28, 2010


How To Train Your Dragon is the type of movie I would want to take my kids to see.  Well, hypothetical kids that is.  The Dreamworks production, based on the children's books by Cressida Cowell, will have you on the edge of your seat with its gripping action animation sequences and yes, you really need to witness it in 3-D for full effect.  And this is coming from someone who isn't a fan of animated features.

The story centers around lanky Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who just isn't a cut from the same Viking cloth as his heroic Dragon Slayer father Stoick (Gerard Butler).  After being pushed into taking Dragon Slaying lessons, it's plain to see that Hiccup simply lacks the stalwart prowess required of him.  Under pressure not to disgrace his father, while also struggling to find his own identity, Hiccup one day stumbles upon the most-feared  dragon of all, who is wounded.  As they say, "an injured dragon is a dead dragon" and he realizes that if this dragon isn't saved, the Vikings will get to it and decide its fate.

Before long, Hiccup befriends the dragon secretly, nursing it back to health and while observing its behaviour, he develops an understanding of dragons' weaknesses. He uses his knowledge to tame dragons to submission in his studies, winning the respect of the Vikings who proclaim him a n overnight hero.  Of course, classmate Astrid (America Ferrara) becomes jealous and suspicious of Hiccup and after keeping a close eye on him, she learns of his secret.  She too soon befriends the pet dragon whom is eventually named Toothless.

The two are taken on a visually breathtaking ride by Toothless, not unlike that crucial scene in Titanic where Jack and Rose romantically embrace the wind, but instead of a boat, Hiccup and Astrid are aboard a dragon.  Toothless then leads the two to the dark and dangerous world of the Dragon's Nest.   Here they discover the most destructive mother of all dragons, narrowly escaping capture.

When finally faced with the challenge of slaying a dragon in public, Hiccup is unable to fulfill his promise and his affections for Toothless are soon unveiled.  Hiccup's loyalties are questioned -  is he on the side of the Vikings or his pet dragon?  Acting out of greed, Stoick captures Toothless and is determined to find the illusive Dragon's Nest, where a whole new level of danger is reached.   What ensues is a battle scene truly worthy of the word "epic".  Will Hiccup be able to apply his knowledge and prevail for the Vikings?  And will he at the same time rescue his pet dragon?

Paramount Pictures' How To Train Your Dragon has lots of heart and in all honesty, I enjoyed it even more than other recent 3-D Box Office smashes Avatar and Alice in WonderlandBaruchel is very engaging as Hiccup and it brings me great pride as a fellow Canadian to know that the up-and-coming actor's star is finally rising.  Ferrara and Butler also are effective in their roles, giving just enough push and pull to help us empathize with Hiccup and Toothless.  This is no doubt due to fantastic direction by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders.  As the film wrapped up, I found myself tearing up in my 3-D glasses.  Needless to say, I was fully satisfied with how the story was resolved.

More importantly, the message of the film is perhaps the greatest thing about it.  In order to judge "the unknown", we need to understand where others are coming from.  We cannot do this without allowing ourselves an opportunity to know them first.  Violence does not always have to be the answer, as my generation was often led to believe in the films from my childhood.  It is refreshing to see that times have changed and that Hollywood is encouraging kids (and adults!) more now to think outside the box.  How To Train Your Dragon is now in wide release and is a classic in its genre.  Grade: A+


  1. I also enjoyed this film. Tho, I can't say it really needed to be in 3D unless seen in IMAX.

    LOVED the breast plate joke.

  2. hahaha me too!
    i so want a stuffed Toothless doll.