FlixChatter Review: How to Train Your Dragon

I don’t know why it took me so long to watch it, as I’ve heard about this movie when Gerard Butler was cast a few years back. But in any case, I’m so glad I finally did. The movie exceeds my already-high expectation, and now stands as one of my favorite animated features ever!

The story centers on a Viking teenage boy Hiccup in a mythical Viking island where the common pests are dragons. It’s his tribes tradition to become a dragon slayer, but despite being the son of the tribe leader, Hiccup is a bit of an misfit as he doesn’t quite share the same warrior mentality as the rest. He’s small, clumsy but inventive. In fact, one of his invention ended up capturing a mysterious dragon. But his life is transformed when Hiccup and the dragon he calls Toothless form an unlikely friendship that break down the preconception each of them have about their species.

  • I initially thought, ‘Wow, Hollywood actually has a fresh, original plot for once!’ But later I learned this movie is loosely based on a book of the same name by Cressida Cowell. But still, the story feels fresh to me the way Shrek was when it first came out.
  • Though it’s an animated feature, it actually deals with some deep themes, such as overcoming fear of people/things that you don’t understand. Instead of seeking to destroy, the message is to take time to understand and build relationship to overcome old prejudices. I even read one review that suggests this should be Hilary Clinton’s approach concerning the Middle East! Now, that’s oversimplifying things just a bit too much, don’t you think? I mean, after all this is a fantasy children flick. Nonetheless, it’s a poignant message. I even think of Hiccup as applying the Samaritan’s sensibility in loving and caring for his enemy.
  • Steve over at The Film Cynics also saw an underlying message of overcoming one’s disability. I won’t say throw much of it away to those who haven’t seen this, but Hiccup and his dragon BFF will later have something to commiserate with considering their circumstances.
  • Great voice cast of Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, and Jonah Hill help bring the character to life. Baruchel is especially engaging and sympathetic as the young protagonist Hiccup–a strange name for a Viking, eh? Both Butler and Ferguson got to revel in their native Scottish brogue, clearly they’re having fun with ’em and I for one could listen to either of them read the phone book for hours! 😉 Butler got to reprise some of 300‘s Leonidas’ leadership prowess with lines like “Either we finish them, or they’ll finish us!”
  • Hiccup’s relationship with Toothless is really the best thing about this movie. Their mutual affection for each other is believable, and when the wall slowly crumbles between the two worlds, I couldn’t help getting all teary-eyed.
  • The film has incredible animation with a variety of dragons flying across the screen. It kind of remind me of the scene in Avatar when Jake first ride the banshee when Hiccup rides Toothless as he flies through the clouds. Beautiful aerial view of the village, it’s as if they’re actually filming it on a helicopter instead of simply a CGI creation.
  • I wish I had seen this in the theater to see it in its full 3D glory, but even in 2D on a home theater it’s still impressive and I was ooh-ah-ing over the breathtaking visuals. Besides the visual eye candy, the movie also offers plenty of heart… which is more than most animated features can offer these days. It’s right up there with Wall-E in terms of how much this movie affected me.

I highly recommend this film to everyone of all ages, it’s bound to entertain even those normally not fond of animation. Don’t worry, the characters won’t suddenly burst into songs on this one a la Disney movies. This one is not only worth renting but worth buying as well. After the movie is over, my husband and I both agree we definitely are getting this one on Blu-ray! 😉

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What do you think of this movie, folks?