(Note: I saw this movie in 2D with DTS sound and absolutely loved the experience. No 3D necessary.)
I’ll just come out and say it, what a WONDERFUL film! I was absolutely surprised and swept away. Honestly the marketing wasn’t working for me. It felt to “kiddish” and I was afraid to give it a chance. But thankfully, the blog-o-sphere and tweet-o-sphere kept urging me to see it, and so I did. It has now become my favorite Dreamworks Animation film.

“How to Train Your Dragon” is simply about a ‘different’ boy, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and by circumstance his befriending of a dragon. The village of vikings the boy lives in is opposed to having anything to do with the dragons except to kill them. However, after being shown the errors of being stubborn, realize that the dragons are an ally and not an enemy. But it is up to the young Hiccup to unexpectedly lead them and teach them.

The story is engaging from the very beginning and it never lets you go. The movie continually asks for an emotional response from the audience as it navigates the themes of loneliness, friendship, father/son relations, love, misconceptions and a host of others. As classic as the story is, the exoticism of the plot elements keep the journey of the film fresh and exciting. Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (of “Lilo & Stitch fame) do an excellent job of crafting a film that is fantastically fun and entertaining, while still having a sense of purpose.

Part of my love affair with this film is owed greatly to the score of John Powell. (I bought this score and am listening to it as I write this review.) I love his music and this score does not disappoint. His beautifully moving themes are absolutely breathtaking when set against the visuals of the film. When there is no dialogue, the music speaks. Every beat of his music not only adds life and excitement, but also evokes that extra bit of emotion from the viewer.

Much credit also has to go to Roger Deakins, ASC BSC, for the work he does on this film. His prowess in cinematography proves the usefulness and need for Directors of Photography even in the animated world. There is no doubt that he helped to accentuate the stunning visuals and create a more unique look than has traditionally been seen in digitally animated films. (The NY Times has a great article on this.)

I am extremely thankful to those urging the viewing of this film. I took a chance on this film, much like Hiccup takes a chance in the film, and it made all the difference; proving that stories can be engaging and emotional even in a “kids world”. This movie made me smile, saddened me, angered me and even gave me chills. There is no age minimum or maximum for this film. Watch it by yourself, with friends, with family, on a date or however and enjoy it. I know you will!

Rating: 8/10
Directors: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christ Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, and Kristen Wiig