‘Dragon’ soars past my expectations

Kevin Thomas's picture

*** 1/2

DreamWorks has a talent for making original stories. Some of the company’s films are the “Shrek” trilogy and “Kung Fu Panda.” With their newest flick, “How to Train Your Dragon,” they make another winner that is beautifully directed and has likeable characters. (Don’t you hate it when the hero isn’t likeable because he has too many problems? I’m remembering “Remember Me.”)

We saw this movie in 2D because of all the recent disappointments we’ve had with other 3D films (Plus, the 3D version didn’t start until 6:45.) Unfortunately, this movie actually would have been worth the extra money for 3D. The flying sequences are breath-taking, and though he doesn’t speak a word, the dragon’s personality shines through because of the animation on his body language.

Hiccup, a slightly built teen Viking who would rather invent weapon enhancements then carry a weapon around, finds a wounded dragon. He can’t bring himself to kill it, so he befriends it instead. Since he is a Viking, this is unheard of. He must keep it a secret from his father, Stoick (Gerald Butler) and Astrid; the feisty love interest voiced by “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pant’s” America Ferrera. Keeping this secret is easy, because nobody cares about Hiccup. I guess I didn’t pay too much attention to him either because I can’t name the actor who voices him. (Editor’s note - Jay Baruchel of “Tropic Thunder” and the upcoming “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”)

The relationship between the father and the son in this movie is probably the worst I’ve seen in a while. The two don’t agree on anything, and the father doesn’t appreciate his son’s talents. I am happy my dad isn’t like that. The adults in this movie are all ignorant to the fact the dragons will not hurt them if they don’t hurt the dragons first. In the ending battle sequence, the adults are getting creamed by the master dragon, and then the kids swoop in (literally) and save them.

Alhough the flying sequences are brilliant and the story is original, “How to Train Your Dragon” has some scenes that may scare younger kids (especially if seen in 3D). The movie opens up with dragons attacking the Viking village. The first ten minutes show scary-looking dragons at close range. If seen in 3D, a fire-covered dragon will come straight out of the screen (I was able to tell where the 3D effects would be, had I seen it in that format). The ending battle sequence may also be scary for younger viewers, but overall, I think this is a good family film.

Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language. I think the dad uses the ‘h’ word a couple of times.

(Editor’s note - Took my five year old and he loved it. I did too. I think it is DreamWorks best animated film thus far. Also, check out the story on David Torres, a graduate of Mcintosh High School who was a co-supervising animator on this film, at www.thecitizen.com)