Based on Cressida Cowell’s best selling book for kids, How To Train Your Dragon may be taking a page from the E.T. formula, but with its mix of Viking mythology, action, comedy and heart it feels like no other CG 3D animation effort, at least in recent times. Story revolves around Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), an awkward, teenaged Viking who has a hard time finding his place in the family business, as it were. The macho dragon slayers that include his father and Viking leader, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), are not exactly a crowd he fits in with easily, although to keep dad happy he tries. Typically P.C, the ‘toon also offers up Astrid (America Ferrera), the de rigueur young female counterpart who is strong and aggressive in every way Hiccup isn’t. His training exercises with other budding teen dragon slayers start to give him a sense of self-worth but his whole world is turned around when he befriends an injured dragon and then must hide the fact from everyone, including his feared father. As the relationship with the endearing creature grows so does the peril that has engulfed Hiccup and his new friend…read more [BoxOffice]
How to Train Your Dragon, the latest digital morality tale from DreamWorks Animation, is a middling adventure both creatively and visually that doesn’t quite take flight.
With an unnecessarily diverse swarm of dragons zipping around and hordes of Viking warriors attacking them with primitive weaponry, there’s plenty going on in its breezy 98 minutes, just none of it particularly engaging. It might occupy young children and it won’t bore the adults, but as far as kid flicks go it’s simply average…read more [News in Film]
Like the book, the movie is rich in whimsical detail from character names to Viking-faced towers with fire in their mouths. It’s also brimming with aah-eliciting cuteness — like Toothless’ gummy grin. The CGI provided a bewitching mix of breathtaking realism — the waves of a misty silver-gray sea, rosy-gold clouds and blue sky — and vibrant cartoonishness, plus a rush of dragon-soaring adrenaline. How to Train Your Dragon also contains kid-appropriate life lessons such as “be yourself,” but unlike family films like Monsters vs. Aliens and Shrek, it’s deficient in witty, adult-aimed double entendres and pop culture one-liners. And the ending’s strange twist might leave parents (and filmmakers) with a lot of explaining to do. Cuteness, cheekiness, and CGI are the film’s strengths. And, of course, dragons … it’s a Harry Potter-meets-Avatar adventure that should delight most children and adults…read more [Film.com]
Some movies seem born to inspire video games. All they lack is controllers and a scoring system. “How to Train Your Dragon” plays more like a game born to inspire a movie. It devotes a great deal of time to aerial battles between tamed dragons and evil ones, and not much to character or story development. But it’s bright, good-looking and has high energy. Kids above the easily scared age will probably like the movie the younger they are.
This is another action animation with an improbable young hero, based on a series of popular children’s books. Remember when the heroes in this genre were teenagers? Now it’s usually some kid who is 10 at the most, revealing himself as stronger, wiser and braver than older people, and a quick learner when it comes to discovering or mastering a new form of warfare. We are born knowing how to command dragons and spaceships and down we forget as up we grow…read more [Roger Ebert]
Anyone over the age of 10 can see where it’s all going, and How to Train Your Dragon never deviates from the path. Similarly, it hammers home the usual combination of tried-and-true messages, such as valuing outsiders and learning to trust those who are different. But while directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders never take any real risks, neither do they abandon their efforts to elevate business as usual. The script holds plenty of clever moments, spiked by enough genuine emotion to let us connect to the characters. This comes to the forefront most prominently in the relationship between Hiccup and his father–a Viking among Vikings who wants the best for his son but really doesn’t get him. A teen Valkyrie love interest (voiced by America Ferrara) strikes similarly engaging notes; though far tougher than Hiccup, she’s equally open-minded and eventually see his worth when no one else will…read more [Mania]
Nor for that matter, did they ride dragons. So, How to Train Your Dragon, based on the 2003 children’s novel that launched a series by British author Cressida Cowell, is clearly ensconced in cartoon-Viking land, and as such creates a colorful little self-contained world that might not always make logical sense but should delight pre-teens with its admirable imagination.
The movie serves as a not-quite prequel to the book, in which dragons are already domesticated. On the stony Isle of Berk, the smallish young Viking Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), who’s 11 in the novel, is desperate to be a big, bad dragonslayer like his dad, chieftain Stoick (Gerard Butler). Dad defends the village with fellow Vikings like the blacksmith Gobbler (Craig Ferguson) and the more athletically inclined kids, including Snotlout (Jonah Hill), twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), feisty warrior-girl Astrid (America Ferrera), and the big though not fearsome Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)…read more [FilmJournal]
“How to Train Your Dragon” has taken the age-old story of a teenage boy sorting through his fundamental life issues — fit in, figure out self, get the girl, don’t disappoint Dad — set it in ancient Viking times and still managed to give it a thoroughly modern spin. A millennium later and this kid would head an Internet start-up or have a reality show on cable. For now, he’s just a misfit in Ugg boots. Ingenious.
Now, just why a Viking leader named Stoick the Vast ever agreed to name his son Hiccup remains a mystery. But even without the name, our hero (voiced by Jay Baruchel) was never going to be your typical teen. He’s slight of build in a clan of hearty folk; an out-of-the-box thinker before boxes were invented; and he stumbles into the fine art of dragon whispering in a village where everyone shouts and no one has heard of Cesar Millan…read more [LA Times]
DreamWorks Animation tries a new tack, embracing sincerity over satire, with “How to Train Your Dragon,” a thrilling drama interspersed with amusing comedic elements (rather than the other way around) from “Lilo and Stitch” directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois. Though inspired by Cressida Cowell’s eight-book kidlit series, “Dragon” is more prequel than adaptation, establishing the Viking-inhabited Isle of Berk, where the brawny warrior clan is cursed with an unruly reptile problem. It falls to misfit Hiccup to rethink their relationship with the species — from pests to pets — a notion so appealing, “Dragon” seems destined to become another cornerstone franchise…read more [Variety]
How To Train Your Dragon is the latest 3D film to hit – and it’s a joy from beginning to end – and a relief to report that the 3D is used as a tool of the film rather than a gimmick. Sure, it’s the traditional story of the son trying to grow and go his own way, but thanks to some pretty impressive dragon flying scenes, a sparse (and underused) vein of humour and a gorgeous soundtrack, it’ll keep the kids – and parents – amused for 90 minutes…read more [TVNZ]
Directed by: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Voice of: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrara, Craig Ferguson
Running Time: 97 mins
Production: A Dreamworks Animation presentation
Film Width: 3D, IMAX, 2.35
Sound: Dolby Digital (AC-3), DTS, SDDS
How to Train Your Dragon Video Review [Indy Mogul]