Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon

The first collaboration between directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois since their 2002 hit film Lilo and Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of a young Viking trying to prove himself, and the adventure he embarks upon when a mysterious dragon whisks him away. But, can this tale of a dragon and its rider hold its own in a world already conditioned to the stories of dragons and their riders? “If I have to say it, this is the movie Eragon should have been.” Keep reading to view a movie trailer and our full review!The simplest way I can sum this up, for the reader who like me usually scans a review for the final verdict, is this: Go see this film now! I haven’t stopped smiling since the film began!

Now, for those of you who need more convincing, I will provide the following review.

How to Train Your Dragon is an adaptation of British author Cressida Cowell’s collection of Dragon/Viking themed tales. While I have encountered Cowell’s titles in passing, I will admit, I cannot recall ever picking one of them up. Therefore, this review will not take into account how loyal the film is as an interpretation of the book(s), but how well the film plays out as an independent work.

From the minute Hiccup the Viking begins his narration, and a sheep is snatched from the hillside, you will realize that there is something different about this film. It’s 3D, but not the 3D we’ve grown accustomed to in this new movie era. Removed is the ‘in your face’ cliché, and in its place is a screen that both reaches out and simultaneously draws you in to the depth and epic scale of the landscape.

Hiccup is a young Viking lad, who has his heart set on proving himself to both his father, and the entire village. In a society built upon the slaying of dragons, he stands out as something of a sore thumb. He’s small, scrawny, and has big ideas, all of which seem antithetical to the entire Viking way of life.

Enter Toothless, a magnificent dragon known as a “Night Fury.” Perhaps one of the most evident influences of Chris Sanders’s (Lilo and Stitch) work on the film, he is not your stereotypical dragon, and, as a long-time Sanders fan, I found myself instantly in love with his design and character. Utilizing vocalizations, gestures, and yes, facial expression, he is perhaps one of the most articulate characters in the film, even though he never speaks a single word. A companion, and partner, anyone who has had the privilege of owning a pet will instantly recognize the characteristics of their little furry loved one in Toothless’s scaly form. From his catlike creeping, to his dog-like loyalty, he is an amazing blend of animal traits, which form an elegant yet sturdy creature who is sure to influence the imagery of dragons for years to come.

How to Train Your Dragon is a film unlike any other I have seen within recent memory. It isn’t a serious film, nor is it a laugh a minute comedy. Rather, it unfolds over a well paced hour and thirty-eight minutes, chronicling a sweeping tale that is sure to delight both the die hard fantasy fan, and the casual movie-goer just the same.

Likewise, Inheritance fans should be sure to note the fantastic scenes of Toothless in flight with Hiccup along for the ride, the breathtaking battles, and an ending that can only be described as inspirational. How to Train Your Dragon holds its own, defining a unique world of dragons and riders, with enough elements to please fans still looking for a film to do justice to the Inheritance epic. If I have to say it, this is the movie Eragon should have been.

So there you have it folks! Dragons, riders, battles, landscapes, what more reason do you need to go?