How to Train Your Dragon
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The first thing you should know about “How to Train Your Dragon” is that you must pay the extra couple bucks and go see it in 3D. With an opening sequence full of action, this computer-animated film was made for people to don those over-sized black plastic frames. Without being gimmicky, the 3D effects truly enhance the experience for the viewers and draw them in (no pun intended) so they feel totally a part of this cartoon world.
“How to Train your Dragon” is your basic underdog story. A scrawny kid named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) idolizes his village’s heroes, boulder-bodied dragon-killing Vikings…with Scottish accents. Determined to be seen as worthy of this profession, Hiccup tries time and time again to prove his bravery and skill to his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler) and to win the heart of the object of his affection, tomboy Astrid (America Ferrera). But with too tender a heart, Hiccup is unable to perform the expected duties of a dragon-slaying student and instead finds his own path with the help of an injured Night Fury dragon named Toothless.
What I found most creative about this version of Cressida Cowell’s book was the portrayal of the dragons. Rather than regurgitating a widely-accepted vision of this imaginary winged beast, the directors and animators had fun with creating uniquely-shaped bodies and personalities for the multitude of dragon species mentioned in the story. If anyone finds Toothless reminiscent of Disney’s favorite alien Stitch, it is only because directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois both directed and animated that movie as well.
The 3D experience was perfect; from debris floating in front of your nose to feeling like you were too short to peek out from a crowd, it was just the right amount of depth perception to not make you feel nauseous.
The voice talent was also spot-on. If a voice can sound gangly and socially awkward, then Jay Baruchel’s youthful vocalizations were just that. While some might be surprised that the blond-haired character Astrid is voiced by Latina America Ferrera, it never seems strange or unfitting. Craig Ferguson was a wonderful choice for Gobber, the roughed-up dragon trainer and uncle-like figure to Hiccup. In addition to the main vocal talent, comedy fanboys and girls will want to listen for Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig, both unexpected surprises for this reviewer.
All in all, “How to Train your Dragon” is a beautifully animated ride through the clouds. It may not be the most hilarious script ever written, but it tells a fabulous story of individuality, bravery and perseverance that both kids and adults will enjoy.