How to Train Your Dragon
Taking that thing for walks must be a handful.

Theatrical Release Date: 03/26/2010
Directors: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Featuring the Voices of: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig
Rated: PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Golden Mug2010 Golden Mug

Best Animated Film


Talk to the hand dragon … just don’t eat it.

What’s better than a film about Vikings or a film about dragons? Easy answer, a film about Vikings AND dragons. And so we have the latest 3D CGI animataganza, “How to Train Your Dragon”.

Centered on a young lad named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), he’s not your typical Viking. Devoid of the physicality and warrior mindset of his tribe, he instead relies on inventiveness and a good heart to see him through the tasks ahead. His village has a dragon problem; they come in and steal sheep and generally cause all sorts of trouble. Hiccup’s dad is the head honcho (voiced by Gerard Butler) and the only thing he wants more than the eradication of the dragons is for his son to be a strong and respected member of the tribe. Of course, Hiccup ends up befriending a dragon and this sets in motion a chain of events that will change the tribe’s mindset about the nature of dragons and how they don’t have to be constantly at odds with one another.

The voice work is well done overall. Baruchel is carving out a niche for himself as the lovable loser and America Ferrera adds a nice sweetness to his love interest, all the while remaining a fierce Viking at heart. The rest of their peer group are a lot of fun and it’s a shame additional time isn’t spent with them, as more could definitely be done when you have the talents of Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

The standout voices though must go to the two actors who employ their native Scottish accents (since these are Scottish Vikings after all) – Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson. Each clearly enjoyed portraying rough and tumble warriors and it’s so welcome to see a film with Butler in it that doesn’t suck (i.e. “The Bounty Hunter“).

Co-director Chris Sanders’ last effort was the charming “Lilo & Stitch” and he decided to bring some of that cuteness into the flick by designing “Toothless” the dragon after Stitch. This pays off because the dragon is adorable and will surely be a desired stuffed animal by kids (parents, guard your wallets). And there are many other similarities to that film present here: Toothless’ protective nature, the idea of an “alien” amongst humans. I didn’t really think of those aspects until after the film but they worked well enough so I’m not bothered by rehashing these ideas.

Now of course, onto the question of whether it’s worth an extra $56 to see the film in 3D IMAX. The simple answer is ‘No, it’s not’. Once again, the issue of wearing tinted glasses dulls the colors of the production. Also, aside from one very good scene where ash is floating around, the 3D quality fluctuates from eye-straining to ineffective. And while some of the flying sequences are made a bit more exciting by both the 3D and the IMAX format, you’ll get what you need from a nice, big and clear 2D screen.

So, if you’ve got kids or love kid-friendly animated films, “How to Train Your Dragon” is a delightful effort and gets a 3.5. out of 5. It’s just fun to see Vikings fight dragons and with their accents, Scottish Vikings are the most fun kind of all (though why none of the kids had Scottish accents is a detail I try not to wrap my head around).

3.5 out of 53D Maybe