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how to train your dragon
Click for full sized poster

How to Train Your Dragon

Starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller
Screenplay by
Based on
Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

IN SHORT: Kiddies will loooove it. Parents won't mind, either. [Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language. ]

For hundreds of years on the Isle of Berk two things are certain. Winter will fall for nine months of the year. The rest of the year will be spent by the resident Vikings battling dragons who would swoop in and steal the herds of sheep that comprise the food supply. The Viking warrior adults are mostly barrel chested, bearded fighters led by Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler). This year's class of warror wannabees include Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the scrawny son of the chief , and the toughest teen femme in the land Astrid (America Ferrera)

Gobber (Craig Ferguson) has faced his share of dragons in the past. Said dragons have found various parts of the blacksmith to be delicious, which is why Gobber has a second job training the warrior wannabees.

Also in this years training class are Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and  battling twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut (Kriten Wiig and T.J. Miller)

There are many different kinds of dragons, all detailed in the Dragon Handbook which most of the class have already memorized as children. There is the two headed Hideous Zippleback; the equally large, lava spitting Gronckle; the brightly colored Deadly Nadder; the flying firepit called the Monstrous Nightmare; the tiny beast named the Terrible Terror and the most dangerous of them all -- the never seen but always deadly black dragon called Night Fury. [you'll find each on the wallpaper downloads page] As the film begins there is a furious dragon attack in progress and, while all the warriors of the town are at its defense, no one notices young Hiccup taking a lucky shot and nailing the Night Fury.

No one believes the boy and, the following day when he finds the wounded dragon, wrapped in the ropes of the weapon that brought him down, all Hiccup has to do is finish the job and bring home proof. Hiccup can't do it. Hiccup lets the dragon go and watches as the wounded beast fails to fly to freedom. As days pass, the boy brings food to the beast, who he has named Toothless, and a bond is formed. From that bond comes knowledge, and the surefire biggest loser in training group surprises all -- and his father especially -- by defeating all captured dragons used in training without killing a single one of 'em. This tics Astrid off and she vows to uncover Hiccup's secret. Doing so leads to the answer of the biggest mystery -- where is the nest of the Dragons?

Berk's dad and his Vikings have been searching forthe nest to eradicate the pests. Hiccup and Astrid discover that the nest hides an even bigger secret . . . and we have this thing about not giving away end-of-story secrets, so we won't. Had the first half of the story gotten us to the explosive effects of the finale (just to coin a phrase; Vikings were bigger with swords than explosives...) a wee bit faster, we would have been happier.

But we don't really count in this case, the kids loved the thing. Not only the boys -- our comments about boys above -- but so did the girls. The ones kicking the back of our chair were about 8 or 9 or so and they were literally gushing to their parents on the way out.

See it.

Folks, as a self-admitted 'toonhead, we would love all animated movies to be on a level with the best out of earlier Dreamworks releases or the relatively newly combined DisneyPixar. How to Train Your Dragon isn't going to knock the socks off all age groups, but no one should have trouble with it. The younger the viewer the better and, as for family appropriateness, we recommend the film. It's mostly fire and noise and very little of anything resembling blood. Parents need not worry -- as long as your tiny ones are beyond the nightmare every night stage.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.