Fantasy and imagination reign in ‘Dragon’

Brett Hilbrandt

While dragons may be fictitious, every boy dreams of owning or fighting one at some point in their childhood. Dreamworks Pictures’ “How to Train Your Dragon” shows us that impossible fantasy and makes it seem just as great as I imagined.

“Dragon” is centered on a young boy named Hiccup. His father, Stoick, is a great Viking leader who is in desperate times because his town is being overrun by dragons. Compared to everyone else, Hiccup is declared a weakling and is constantly ridiculed because he is incapable of killing a dragon. Hiccup soon captures a rare dragon, but cannot bring himself to kill the beast so he sets it free. However, the dragon’s tail is broken, leaving it unable to fly. Hiccup befriends the dragon and names it “Toothless,” and he begins to unravel the secret behind the dragons.

The voice acting is spot on, and every main character has a unique personality. Baruchel voices the film’s lead flawlessly. Butler sounded exactly how an angry Viking should sound, and his accent really helps his performance. Jonah Hill is hysterical as one of the dim-witted Vikings, and America Ferrera is a solid female lead.

The plot for “Dragon” is great. The story itself never gets too far out of hand, and it is very easy to follow. The reasoning behind the random dragon uprising is fully explained in a simplistic manner, and it suits the film perfectly.  The story of a struggling father and son is done faultlessly, and it adds depth to the characters. The thing that truly made me enjoy this movie is how well they handled the action sequences. Every time someone fought a dragon I was impressed. The idea behind training exercises for possible dragon attacks, instead of just going into battle, gives the film a more powerful climax, and the end of this movie is up there with some of the better final fights I have seen in an animated film. The only downside is the lack of character development between Hiccup and his friends. It does not hurt the movie that much, but it certainly makes some characters seem underused.

The team behind the art of this film should be very proud. Aside from “Avatar,” this is the best use of 3-D and every action scene made me feel like I was in the film. The first sequence between Hiccup and Toothless is amazing, and the final battle scene has to be seen to fully comprehend how cool it truly is. The score by John Powell is fantastic. If he were to be nominated for an award with this film, I would not be surprised. The Viking drums are used perfectly to make the film suspenseful during the long action sequences, and the rest of the film’s score is just as good. The sound effects in this film also deserve to be noticed because they are top-notch.

This is one of the best kids’ films I have seen that was not from Pixar. While it may not be perfect like “Wall-E” or “Up,” this film has just as much charm. “Dragon” is made for the entire family and is well worth wearing uncomfortable 3-D glasses for an hour and a half. If you still have an imagination, or kids, go see this movie.