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How to Train Your Dragon

The level of popularity of fictional monsters can often be measured by what’s trendy at the moment (think vampires for example). Yet without question, Dragons are eternally cool. These legendary creatures, usually possessing some reptilian or serpentine traits. hold a prominent place in the mythology of cultures throughout the world. The common European version, usually a large fire breathing reptilian beast with bat like wings and a bad attitude, continue to captivate the imagination of children and adults alike. Typically Dragons take on the role of nemesis. More importantly they embody a rite of passage one must face and conquer in order to fulfill one’s destiny. The Dreamworks Studios new animated feature film, “How to Train Your Dragon”, presents a coming of age tale with a delightfully modern twist as its reluctant hero battles the unexpected in his quest for acceptance. Read on for the review and the essentials you need to know about “How to Train Your Dragon.”

How’s the Story?

As mentioned previously, it’s a coming of age tale with a modern twist. The film’s exposition nicely establishes the where and when of the film as well as the main participants, Vikings and Dragons, respectively. The film traces the path taken by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the reluctant hero of “How to Train Your Dragon”, as he confronts his destiny versus his own sensibilities. The character portrayal resembles a modern technology geek living in Viking times. Smart, wry humored, with an interest in tinkering rather than combat, he faces the challenge of living up to the expectations of his legendary Dragon slaying Viking Warrior Chief father, Stoick the Vast. Hiccup’s path is forever altered when he encounters a formidable injured dragon.

Taking a page from Pixar Studios playbook, “How to Train Your Dragon” fleshes out the characters and offers many poignant moments throughout the film. It’s a far cry from the rapid fire comedic one liners formula utilized by previous animated film offerings from Dreamworks Studios. In fact, one could argue the movie was lacking enough comedic moments. Interestingly, the younger characters all have an American English accent while the adults speak in a heavy Scottish accent. I’m not sure if that was by design or necessity but it struck me as odd at times.

How are the Visual Effects?

Stunning. Dreamworks Studios has firmly established a foothold into Pixar territory by the sheer breadth and beauty of the world it’s created for “How to Train a Dragon.” The film is presented in three formats: standard, 3D and 3D Imax. Out of convenience, I opted for the 3D version. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the dramatic progress of 3D integrated into the movie watching experience. In this particular film there are many uses of flying. It’s obvious the film makers chose to capitalize on this aspect by creating a soaring flight scene which completely whisks the viewer away as though they were part of the flight. I must warn you that if one suffers motion sickness, “How to Train Your Dragon” might not be the film for you. On the other hand, if one enjoys aerial thrill rides, you’ll leave this experience beaming with a big amusement park grin.

Can I take my younger kids to see “How to Train Your Dragon”?

In my opinion, no. The film deservedly has a rating of PG. I would not take a child younger than 7 to watch this movie. Although seemingly harmless to the adult viewer, young children will find the film too intense and scary at times. The Dragons introduced in this film are not cuddly whatsoever. Couple that with the 3D effects amplifying the scare factor and you have a recipe for inducing nightmares.

Any opportunity for Bathroom breaks?

Honestly, very few. The film’s fast paced. There’s very little filler material in the movie. If nature’s call becomes too strong, I’d suggest taking a break during Hiccup’s second encounter with the injured Dragon, Toothless.

Overall Review Rating: B+

Recommended for Kids ages 7 and up.

Pros: Quirky characters and story line. Fantastic visual effects. Fun 3D thrill ride.

Cons: Too intense for younger children. Some action a tad bit contrived.

Watch the “How to Train Your Dragon” Official Trailer Below:

  • I made the mistake of taking a three year old to see this film. I should have done my homework on the film first. She liked the film but, violence and the main characters loss of his leg was a bit confusing to her and took some explaining. But, now I know to be more careful in our movie selections.

    • It’s certainly tough trying to find quality entertainment for little ones. Arguably even cartoons such as Tom and Jerry could be deemed too violent but at the very least when it comes to movies, the film’s rating can provide some insight. I think it’s great that you took the time to explain to your 3 year old what she had seen on the screen. Positive reinforcement really means so much to kids.

  • This is my first comment on a movie review but since I just saw this movie I couldn’t resist. My 3 year old son handled it pretty well although he did have lots of questions but he always does. He has asked to see it again but my son might be an exception here. Take heed of the reviews advice on the scare factor. Other than that, I’m sure you will love it.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Squirtsdad. I myself plan to buy this film at some point, especially when 3D hdtv technology matures in about 4 years and becomes affordable. This will be a perfect family night film for the future. That and Star Wars of course. 🙂

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