Every Saturday night, my five year old daughter Evelyn has a ‘movie night.’ This allows her to stay up later than usual and watch a movie of her choice. A few weeks ago, she was having trouble picking what she wanted, so she suggested that maybe I could pick for a change. Needless to say, I was very, very tempted to finally introduce her to ‘Star Wars’, but I had trouble finding the box set.
While I was searching, I came across a DVD that had been bought for us several months ago, but had been put up on the shelves and forgotten about. That movie was ‘How to Train your Dragon.’ I was partially interested in watching it, so we popped it on to see what it was like.
We were all blown away. The story of a viking boy named Hiccup, the son of the chief Stoic, and his befriending the Nightfury dragon he calls Toothless. The dragons were the traditional enemies of the vikings, and both hated each other. Hiccup, the brainy, scrawny viking, realises that the dragons and simply misunderstood. He sets out to show the vikings the error of their ways and ends up saving the day.
Shift to five years later. How to Train your Dragon 2 continues the story of Hiccup, Toothless, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Ruffnut and Tuffnut. The dragons are now fully integrated into the lives of the vikings and all are happier for the change. Stoic now wants to step down as chief and Berk and has asked Hiccup to take over. Hiccup, terrified of the job his father is asking from him, flees Berk, and starts mapping the nearby islands with Toothless.
It’s during one of these mapping expeditions that Hiccup and Toothless come across Eret and his crew of dragon hunters. Eret tries to capture Toothless and take him back to his master, Drago. Drago is creating a dragon army to conquer the world in order to ‘protect’ it.
The adventures come thick and fast and Hiccup and his friends attempt to save their dragons and the dragons of Berk from Drago and his minions. Along the way, they meet up with friends long thought lost, and new friendships are built. The final, climatic battle is both exhilarating and tear-jerking.
The film makers have shown amazing courage to create a story line with such mature overtones for what is essentially a film aimed at children. Evelyn watched it at the cinema with me and got quite scared at the part where Drago was introduced. She asked to leave, but I convinced her to stay (‘the good guys always win in the end, don’t they?’ ‘Yes, daddy’) and she was glad she did. She went home saying it was her favorite movie ever.
The animation is nothing short of stunning. Several times I had to double check that what I was watching wasn’t actually a real life movie and was animation. The dragons look incredible, particulary Toothless. He is both cute and terrifying when needed. The backgrounds – Berk, the islands, the other dragons – are all wonderfully created. I was particularly capivated by the hair on Stoic’s beard (maybe this is because I recently shaved my own beard off and was having beard envy). Every single hair on his head seemed to move on its own.
The characters are all wonderful. The voice actors, like Gerard Butler and Johan Hill do a fantastic job. The convey the emotions that make the movie such a heartfelt joy.
This may be a kids movie, but it has a mature edge that means it will be enjoyed by all. The animation is top notch, the acting, story line and direction all are nearly flawless.
Rating – 9/10 – a classic. Can’t wait to watch it again!