How to Train Your Dragon Review

Published 5 years ago by

How to Train Your Dragon is family-friendly, funny, touching, entertaining, and may be the best animated film Dreamworks has made to date.

how to train your dragon review How to Train Your Dragon ReviewScreen Rant reviews How to Train Your Dragon

I really had no expectations going in to see Dreamworks Animation’s latest CGI animated film, How to Train Your Dragon. Frankly, based on the trailers I’d seen I thought it was going to be fairly hokey and formulaic. Imagine my surprise when I found it to be a funny, heartfelt and action-packed movie for kids. Just so you know, this review is based on a viewing of the 2D version of the film as I didn’t get a chance to catch a 3D screening prior to the film’s opening.

How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of “Hiccup” (voiced by young Jay Baruchel, but who I would have sworn was Christian Slater), a skinny, quirky pre-teen growing up in a Viking village. He’s clumsy, intellectual and prone to inventing things using the crude technology available at the time. The village is a harsh place to live and the Vikings are portrayed as big, beefy, hearty men and women who have to fight not only the elements but invasions of attacking dragons, which they’ve fought for generations.

The Vikings in the village define their lives through their battles against the dragons, and Hiccup’s father (Stoick, voice by Gerard Butler) is the biggest and bravest of them all – and the leader of the village. He thinks Hiccup is not cut out for dragon-battle despite Hiccup’s desire for just that very thing (motivated in great part because he believes it’ll get him a girlfriend). Hiccup is mesmerized by Astrid (America Ferrera), a blonde warrior in training who can hold her own against the boys her own age with whom she is training.

astrid how to train dragon How to Train Your Dragon Review

Astrid & the other junior dragon warriors in training

There are many, many types and varieties of dragons here, but the most elusive one – that not only has anyone ever seen, much less killed, is the mysterious and super-fast Night Fury. Hiccup uses one of his gadgets to bring down the Night Fury far from the village. Of course no one believes him, and he goes out in search of the deadly dragon. I won’t say much more than of course Hiccup finds it (he names it “Toothless” for reasons that are apparent) and the film is basically about how they come to be friends.

From Toothless Hiccup learns how to train dragons and appears to subdue them in dragon battle training. Astrid is none too happy about it because she wants to be the #1 pupil – eventually of course she decides to find out how exactly Hiccup is learning all these things and stumbles across his secret.

I was concerned that the audience would be bludgeoned with some sort of “message” in this film, but instead I found the story to be uplifting and the message more subtle than that of Avatar – a film that this reminded me of with the scenes involving dragon flight and a battle towards the end. Yes, for the most part you’ll know where this story is headed, but they actually managed to turn the story in a direction I didn’t expect at all – something I can’t say about the aforementioned other film.

I found the CGI animation to be very detailed, although a little more expressiveness in the characters’ faces might have been nice. I particularly enjoyed Gerard Butler’s performance – loved hearing him speak any time his character was on screen. Although you’ll know where things are headed between Hiccup and Toothless and between him and Astrid, I felt the movie took its time getting there and didn’t make it too easy for the inevitable transitions to take place. Toothless was a joy to watch – they made him a cross between the best aspects of a dog and a cat as far as personality and he was completely lovable.

Overall I found How to Train Your Dragon to be great fun with a big heart – it drew me (and my daughter) in and we enjoyed it from beginning to end. Feel free to bring kids of all ages to this one, nothing in it is inappropriate or so scary that it would give the little ones nightmares. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing it again, but in 3D next time.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. Did you actually SEE the film??? You are just so sad.

    • What are you talking about? I saw the film, and I love it!

  2. Absolutely, I've already seen it twice in 3D and bought the score, it's really a great film. Can't wait to get it on Blu-Ray.

    • Hey…can you tell me if its out on blu-ray or the combo DVD pack with the bonus material & everything? I’m really looking forward to buying it. Absolute stunner of a movie…best I’ve seen in my life. Period. :)

    I thought it was a fantastic twist. Yes it was sad, but I think there's a good message there. All too often in kid's movies we see the hero/good guys get away unscathed. Showing that the victory took sacrifice was a brilliant move in my opinion. Besides Hiccup seemed to take it pretty well. I'm pretty sure the movie intended to end on a happy note, and I feel that it did.

  4. I went to my friends house and he made me watch the bootleg.. Is that a bad thing? :P

    and btw,, after seeing the film- I wasnt impressed with the graphics or CGI at all, I think I've seen much better……. LOL ;)

    • if your aiming to be impressed by cgi and whatnot and basing your judgment off a bootleg copy then your really missing the point. even with a good encoding your not going to get the right quality. unless you got a blue ray rip and watched it on an appropriate t.v. and even then it won’t be true hd.
      I watch bootleg copies myself (i dont stoop to cam versions) but i don’t try to delude myself that i’m seeing it as it was originally.

      I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, it wasn’t too heavy, as the reviewer said it didn’t ram a message down your throat and I had to convince the family not to rename the cat toothless afterwards

  5. I just watched the movie. I have to say it its amazing and i loved it maybe becouse i love dragons^^ but the end was a little bit unexpected(the part where he lost a foot) but still it made the movie not so cliche ^^ Toothless was so adorable but they did a bad job creating him bicouse he looks so much like Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, they can at least try to get a part of him differently…still it was a great movie !! Loved it

  6. Generic is the word.

    It was more of a Dreamworks movie than a Pixar movie, and that’s not really a good thing. The voice actors for the most parts didn’t really work, and the characters were very, verrrrrry generic (obviously besides the dragon). The story was also very, verrrrrry generic. At least the fart jokes went down quite a bit. But the stupid teenager kiss count didn’t go down much.
    Music was generic (didn’t add the very verrrrrry that time}, and the action provided some “zomg pretty awesome”s.

    I guess you know what I’ll say about the moral thing. very verrrrrrry…you know what, never mind.

    Score 6/10

  7. I just saw “How to Train Your Dragon” for the first time last night on HBOHD. Suffice to say that i was blown away :P The story, The characters, action and flight scenes were like nothing i’ve ever seen before.If they ever have any screenings of it in 3D in Theatres or Imax again, I’ll definitly check it out :) I love dragons, and movies with them in it: Reign of Fire, Dragonheart, Beowulf etc…As long as i’ve been aware of dragons, the idea of a Dragon Rider as opposed to a Dragon Slayer is alien to me. I recall the video game from way back during the age of Sega Saturn: Panzer Dragoon and i saw the film Eragorn.But the idea still didn’t stick with me.In fact it seemed kind of blasphemous to me! Dragons are Gods of creation and destruction, Horders of great treasure, Powerful, Wise and Deadly Entities.They are not animals, there dragons.Just as we are not animals, were human.”A dragon is not a horse and should never be treated as such!” Is and was my view.

    But when i saw this film, seeing how ‘Toothless and Hiccup’ got on together, thier chemistry: along with the other young dragons and thier riders, the idea of a dragonrider did not offend me as it once did.They seemed to belong together.Like the sun and moon, earth and sky, parent and child.Someone at Metaphilm should write an essay about this movie.For i felt that it really did have some very powerful themes about the individual and the group, status quo vs change, courage vs fear, faith vs doubt.I think the goddess Artemis would be very proud of Hiccup.In a way he sort of reminded me of a hybrid of Tony Stark and The Beastmaster ;) This may be a modern day tale but it is worthy to be in the ranks of stories of legend.I would go as far as to say that school children grades 1-5 should be required to watch it in school and discuss it and perhaps write a report about it.The Illiad is for grown ups. How to Train Your Dragon, is for children of all ages ^_^

    • Why would the goddess Artemis be proud? Artemis is a Greek goddess and the movie is about Vikings who worship a completely different pantheon.

      • The reason why I said that “Artemis would be proud.” Is b/c of this:

        Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars[1] believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek.[2] Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron

        “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”.

        [3] In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis (Greek: (nominative) Ἄρτεμις, (genitive) Ἀρτέμιδος) was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo.

        She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows

        @Morbiddreams: It doesn’t really matter that she is of a different pantheon.Given the sort of Goddess that she is.Hiccup would definitely get a pat on the back from her ;-)

        • Ah that makes more sense thank you for elaborating :)

          • @Morbiddreams: LOL, did you get abducted by aliens or something? I wrote that reply to you, like four months ago. :D And your just now, responding?!

            Ah well, they say “Better late than never.” With this I concur.

            So thank you for response and better understanding where I was coming from; with the Artemis and Hiccup bit :)

  8. i so the movie and it wasn’t that bad. all they have to do is change all the naming and title b/c it absolutely nothing like the books. NOTHING!!!! that is all