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?

  • Beccawolf

    I saw it in 3D, and there’s only one word for it… A W E S O M E N E S S . Truthfully, this really is the Eragon I think all the fans were looking for. Although I did like the Eragon movie somewhat (It did make me cry in the end, for what reason I have no clue), How to Train Your Dragon beats it. I think I speak for all Inheritance fans when I say, “Eragon REMAKE!!!”

  • Mordor

    I went to the theater and saw How to Train Your Dragon in 3D.
    Fantastic. It was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time, and the 3D just makes it.
    I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did and my sister has neglected to see it so I’m going to go with her to see it again. And I’m excited to see it again, strangely enough. xD

    Not to change the subject or anything, but Silvertounge79, have you read Inkheart?

  • Nightfuryrider

    I thought this movie was 10 million times better than eragon (sorry fans). I wish I saw it in 3D.

  • Eragon.Saphira

    This movie was so cool! I wonder if the Eragon movie would have been better if it were a cartoon?

  • Greedlin

    I loved this movie, and the Eragon movie as well. You have to look at Eragon like a story of old, every time it is told it is told differently. The movie is by one story teller and the book is the other.

  • Chris

    We want both. It’s just getting ones he won’t answer are generally good because we know it will be a plot point in the future book. This is good because we think the information will be inconsequential when it really isn’t.

  • Glorfindel

    I promise that I’m not going to turn this thread into a place to put comments and questions from the last thread, at least, that’s not my intent. But I have a question for Chris.
    I’m confused when you say that you WANT questions that Paolini can’t answer, because they’re questions to spin theories off of. I thought that we wanted questions that he could answer, and that the main idea was to learn new stuff, not theorize on other things.
    I’m just curious, as to what is top priority here.

    Also, I have to laugh over all the people who are getting mad at Mike and Co. that there’s no updates on Book Four. Guys, I’m quite sure that Mike isn’t withholding information on release dates. He’ll let us know as soon as possible when there is one.

  • Weyumm

    I saw this moive 2 in 2 days. I loved it!!

  • Dumbledore

    I LOVED this movie was so cute and was not crude like a lot of animated movies. I want too see it again. I was so depressed when it was over.

  • Neytiri

    Thank you Robert!!! Your post made my day XD

  • Superbun

    I read the books this film is based a few years ago, and can remember only a few details.

    One of the major things that bothers me about this film is that the dragon in the books was around the size of a household cat, it was not able to be ridden.

    I haven’t seen this fillm, your description of “a society built upon the slaying of dragons” is also a depature from the books as in the books dragons were like pets, and everyone had one.

  • anonimous

    this was a really great movie! the best in 2010 history!!!!! 🙂

  • Ciara

    Going to see it this evening, can’t wait after reading this!

  • Silvertounge79

    Hey in all honesty this was one of the best movies I have been to see in ages. It is a great storyline and isn’t all for kids. There is some fantastic animation, some over kids’ heads comments, and an interesting score. It develops well and in my opinion doesn’t leave you with any hangups when you leave the theater. Honestly no way to put it but “Go see this movie if you don’t want to miss out!”

  • ShurtugalLiam

    @ Robert — omg :O nooooo! (lol its to be expected)

    Has anyone noticed though :/ now Twilight and New Moon are out and stuff, there’s loads of merchandise for vampires suddenly appearing. It’s annoying because i had to replace my copy of eragon, but WHsmight hadn’t got it, instead they had like, 3 different cover-versions of twilight, new moon and eclipse and breaking dawn. urgh.
    come on 20th century fox, get eldest on the role or at least remake eragon xD

  • Solenklier

    Wow, I LOVED this movie!!! I saw it two times in one week!!!! 😀
    GO SEE IT NOW!!!! 🙂

  • Mordor

    Ah, interesting summarry. Sounds like a movie my younger sibling would enjoy.

    I agree, Evarinya, Clash of the Titans looks good . . . for me, anyway.

  • Bob

    I’ve got terrible news everyone!

    Eragon is no longer the highest grossing movie with a dragon as the focal point. This one is!

  • Shutterfly

    I recently saw this movie and I absolutely fell in love with it. As a seventeen-year-old going into the movie theater to see a PG rated film I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect… and it exceeding any expectations. The movie was touching, funny and serious–all wrapped within a wonderfully animated frame. The details were great, the dialogue was snappy and the storyline was great as well. The movie had essence and I found it to be very entertaining. As an Inheritance Cycle fan, I highly recommend this to people of all ages!

  • AryaRose

    Have to say, Mike hit the nail on the head. This is the movie Eragon should have been! It was SO good! I just loved it. Toothless was adorable and fierce all at once, the perfect recipe for a lovable dragon! And the partnership of Hiccup and Toothless was clearly evident and truly believable. And the battle sequences! Totally intense. I was literally on the edge of my seat, anxiously biting my lip. And the flight scenes were absolutely gorgeous! I definitely recommend this movie to any dragon lover!

  • Firestone

    Happy Easter everyone!

  • Tulkas

    I remembered the tradition, and I remember Shurtoogle. I wasn’t around for it, but I got on here for like Hello Kitty theme or something and there was a link to Shurtoogle.

    I propose a new holiday called Festivus. Under Festivus, we can celebrate April Fool’s day all year. Thus, Mike can do something at any time. We are a persecuted holiday.

  • alucard

    oh well. Apparently you and I were the only ones who remembered the tradition. I liked Shurtoogal, btw.

  • ArgetSeither

    I’v seen the movie 2 times now and I LOVE it! It’s my new favorite movie.

  • ShurtugalLiam

    Happy birthday for 3 days ago Mike :D!! your a legend so keep up your good work 😀

    and you have to be 21 in the USA to drink? :S shame …. i’m not of age yet lol xD but still.

    Yeah i think toothless was proper awesome 😛 made my day watching that film 😀 i went and watched it yesterday haha 😛

  • SomeRandomPerson

    Happy Birthday! and the movie does look pretty good. Avatar is great! loved it so much! Just a real quick question: is this the movie review that was mentioned earlier? just wondering because i was confused as to which movie you were refering to.

  • Mike

    Sadly I didn’t have time to put together an April Fools joke this year. 🙁 I had some good ideas but no time to put them to work. Next year!

  • alucard

    Yah happy bday!

    But no april fools joke this year? what is going on?

  • Dragonmagik

    Happy Birthday Mike! Have a good (late) one! 🙂

  • Thorn12345

    Yeah the movie looks really cute:) I must see it. RuggishB0n3: I agree. Avatar is the best!!!

  • aaaaaa

    yo mike i kno this is off topic but i was just wonderin what happend to the mothly newsletter not the question thing, cause like there hasnt be one in agez

  • Silverblood

    i thought that this was a really cute film and i loved toothless…… but he did look and act a lot like stitch. sooo preferred this over the Eragon film. that just sucked. i agree with Joelle it the film Eragon shoud have been.

  • Alice

    Coralstar– Congrats

    Happy Birthday to Mike. I suppose that he can now
    drink legally in the U.S. lmao

  • Joanna<3

    Happy Birthday Mike 🙂 you are great!!! Have a good one 🙂

  • coralstar

    my sister and i think that this movie will be cute.

    omg!omg! i got accepted to sam houston state university!!!

  • steven

    Happy birthday mike, I hope you thad a great day

  • Tulkas

    Happy Birthday, Mike!

  • Eragon.Saphira

    Looks like a cool movie!
    Happy Birthday Mike!

  • Bob

    Quick little offtopic note: March 29th Mike Macauley turned 21 years of age.

    Good job, Mike…you made it this far! I give it another year or two before your hair turns gray and falls out.

  • Scout

    Clash of the titans looks great. I can’t wait to see it.

  • Evarinya

    I havn’t seen the movie yet, but I heard that it was pretty good 😀
    Im more interrested in seeing “Clash of the Titans” Now that one looks good.

  • Shob

    I though it was great movie, especially the soundtrack.

    The score for this movie is absolutely amazing. Oscar worthy.

  • Legacy

    I love this movie! Toothless is so adorable! I definatly recommend this movie to anyone 🙂 It was really good and really funny, even if it was a little kids movie. I still loved it 🙂

  • Dragonmagik

    @Mearad: I’m not sure if the series really has a series title. The first book is called How to Train Your Dragon, by Hiccup Horridius Haddock III. They may be more middle-school aged, but they are really hilarious! ^^

    @Sierradragoness: I don’t find the books sugary sweet. Far from it in fact. What do you find in them that is sugary? Just curious.

  • Sierradragoness

    I have to say that the movie is awesome and stands out on its own. Sure, it isn’t completely faithful to the book (it is faithful to the spirit of it though), but it just works in its own right. That is much more important for a movie to do. That said, I didn’t expect it to be very faithful to the book. For all the people who have read them, lets be honest, they are so sugarly sweet that a “faithful” adaptation would be more sugarly then all the carebear specials combined.

    The movie was both a successful film in its own right AND faithful to the spirit of the original works (they just cut the sweetness down to manageable levels). I strongly recommend this movie to everyone.

  • IronAngel

    A movie I’m looking forward too is:
    Ultramaine: A Warhammer 40,000 movie.
    By what I’ve seen on the official news site, it’s going to kick ass!

  • MagitekElite

    I can’t wait till I get to see this movie. I’ve wanted a long time for the book to be a movie, plus Toothless looks so cute 🙂

  • Sarah

    I went and saw the movie with a couple of friends, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read the book it’s based off of, but my mom knew I was into dragons and got me “How to Speak Dragonese” for Christmas a few years ago. It’s some sequel to the one this movie was based off of. I remember thinking the book was really kiddish, but regardless, this was an entertaining and refreshing movie.

    My only complaint is Toothless acted a lot like Stitch. I know the guys who worked on it were the ones behind Lilo & Stitch, but still… it would have been entirely original if not for that…

  • Mike

    I went and saw the movie today after I read Joelle’s review and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read the books, but the movie itself was great. So while it may have deviated from the books (again, I haven’t read them), the movie as a stand-alone piece was great.

    Highly recommended!

  • Mearad

    Dragonmagik– ugghhh, I didn’t know they had butchered the movie from the books. I really dislike that, but the movie was cute. What was the book series it was based off??

  • Dragonmagik

    I’ve read some of the books the film is based off. I’ve only seen trailers, but I know that the movie is completely off as far as plot goes. The vikings and dragons work together in the books. Hiccup has trouble proving himself as the next chief, especially with his miniscule and toothless dragon, Toothless. Still, the film looks fun and I hope to see it.

  • Mearad

    I liked this film, though a few parts were corny. I really loved Avatar and I agree that this ” How to train your dragon” was a lot better than the Eragon movie.

  • Ganon:RiderofArgorok

    I concur. Avatar is amazing. The only film I’m really looking forward to this year though is Deathly Hallows. Really, really can’t wait for that. Possibly one of the best book’s I’ve ever read (next to Inheritance Cycle, of course 😉

  • RuggishB0n3

    Well i Plan to watch it tomorrow seems like a movie i might like

    But it wont beat Avatar!!!!!!

  • IronAngel

    Mmm… It certainly is different…
    Even a little amusing… Just not my cup of tea.
    Although, it certainly kicks the pants of the Eragon film.
    Not that that’s hard.
    But you’re right; if these two had of done Eragon it would’ve been exceptional.