How to Train Your Dragon
Directors: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson
Rate: *** 1/2
Sure to be a candidate for Best Animated Feature when the Oscars roll around, this medieval charmer offers happy proof that animated movies are often the source of originality that’s sadly lacking in most live-action fare.
It’s the story of a timid young Viking named Hiccup, voiced by Canada’s Jay Baruchel, who lives in the remote village of Berk, a place “12 days north of Hopeless and a few degrees south of Freezing to Death.”
Berk would be an okay place to live, for a Viking, except it’s constantly being dive-bombed by pesky dragons. The stout locals have learned how to slay the beasts, with the exception of one deadly apparition known as the Night Fury.
Hiccup wants to be a dragon killer like his brave dad, Stoik the Vast (Gerard Butler), his trainer Gobber the Belch (Craig Ferguson) or even plucky local lass Astrid (America Ferrera).
He has the wit to trap a dragon, but not the heart to kill it. He discovers that dragons are just like kittens, except for the fire-breathing part. Love and understanding goes a long way, unless you’re a Viking. A few attitudes are going to need adjusting.
The film presents the timeless messages of not judging a book by its cover and learning to be just who you are. Fortunately, these messages are disguised by a whole lot of fiery fun.
The abundant extras, more on the Blu-ray, include deleted scenes, a commentary by filmmakers Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, various making-of featurettes and an all-new animated adventure called Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon.