How To Train Your Dragon
It seems to me that children’s movies are ahead of the game. Animation has always been a fascinating art but they have really upped their game play by creating fun, entertaining movies, combining silly cartoony fun with compelling unique storylines. The Academy Awards finally realized this, that is why they created it’s own Best Animated Film category. Definitely the box office always proves that children’s movies are a force to be reckoned with and kids are as a sure fire way for repeat business, especially on DVD or Blu-ray. So how do studios ensure the kids come back? Well, through the parents. The parents have to like it as well as the children and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is another great example of merging a common interest between parents and children.
The storyline this time is about a village of Vikings, who have a vermin problem. Some people have rats or roaches while they have a dragon problem. Everyone trains to kill and defend their town from dragons. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of the head Viking warrior (Gerard Butler), seems to have been born with a weak disposition and therefore is considered a hopeless dragon slayer. With his brains he invents a weapon that catches himself his own dragon. From his secret new dragon friend he learns more about dragons than the history of his fellow Vikings have ever known. He along with five other classmates go through dragon killing school. He is able to use non-aggressive tactics that the people are in awe of. He must gain the trust of his people and the dragons and bridge the gap so they might one day stop killing one another and begin living together harmony.
The animation and direction of the action is done very well. One thing I really liked specifically was how cartoony they made the dragons look. A variety of dragons were introduced with their own strengths and weaknesses with their own silly look as to not frighten the children so terribly. It was a nice touch while giving a few sight gags. I personally would have enjoyed more of the dragon slaying classes with even more of a variety of dragons but I understand that you only have so much time with kid’s movies.
The voice acting is all-around well cast with Craig Ferguson as the silly, straight-talking Dragon Slayer teacher, Gobber, getting most of the laughs. That’s not to take away from Jay Baruchel as the lead in Hiccup, whose sarcastic pathetic deliveries definitely had its fair share of funnies. He gives just the right sweetness and humor to make his whiney pushoverness sympathetic. America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig round out the other classmates and all do a fine job.
Don’t get me wrong; this still is not quite at the level of a Pixar film. The story line and lesson learned is extremely formulaic with a son wanting his father’s approval and the Vikings needing to see their barbaric actions in a different perspective but it works and it’s the setting that is so creative and original. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is a fun little film that will bring enjoyment to both children and adults.