HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is the story of the war between a village of Vikings and a group of flying, fire-breathing dragons that keep raiding the village. Talk about a movie that could go one of two different ways! Throw out the fact that it’s animated. So were 300 and BEOWULF. This could be either a cute, kid-friendly comedy with humor, anachronistic dialogue, and “awww” moments, or a dark, gritty action movie with lots of intense violence, stirring music, and spectacular images.
Well, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON doesn’t make that choice. It’s actually both of those things, and somehow it works really well.
The appearance of the human characters is exaggerated and cartoony, but the dragons are fairly realistic. (Yes, I know how odd that sounds, but you know what I mean.) The attacks on the village are pretty harrowing. The protagonist is a teenage boy called Hiccup, definitely a comedy name, but at the same time he’s dealing with some angsty issues like being a disappointment to his heroic father, the leader of the village. Death and mutilation figure heavily in the back-story, although there’s not much in the actual film. Eventually the action elements begin to dominate, pushing the cuteness into the background for the most part, and this becomes a good old-fashioned adventure movie, which you probably wouldn’t pick up from the marketing campaign.
A lot of times when I start watching an animated film, I don’t know who does the voices, and part of the fun is trying to figure out who they are. One of the characters here is pretty easy to pin down, but I didn’t have a clue who the other actors were. They all do excellent jobs, though. (And I’m not going to say who they are, in case you watch this movie and want to guess, too.)
I didn’t really know what to expect from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, but I enjoyed it a lot. I think it’s definitely worth watching.