CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"How to Train Your Dragon" grows on you!

Nine years ago, Disney Animation and DreamWorks Animation were involved in a vicious battle, between **Monsters Inc.** and **Shrek,** respectively. **Shrek** won the inaugural Best Animation Oscar in 2001, but Dreamworks had yet to achieve such artistic heights in the world of animation. With the release of **How to Train Your Dragon,** DreamWorks has an opportunity to regain the golden idol of animation this year.

Released prior to Easter weekend, **How to Train Your Dragon** has quietly amassed nearly 200 million dollars at the box office. Granted that this film is a Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery IMAX theatre exclusive, it has been word of mouth that has grown the box office of this **Dragon Training.** The one consistent adjective that one hears about **How To train Your Dragon** is “Heart.”

**How to Train Your Dragon** opens during the dark ages when flying dragons terrorize an island inhabited by Vikings. The clan leader Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler) is a fearless dragon fighter, his son Hiccup (Jay Baruchel ~ the dorky “Danger” from Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winning ***Million Dollar Baby**) is a strange kid who thinks before fights.

During a dragon attack one evening, Hiccup wounds a dragon, who crashes in a lake. Hiccup decides to claim the wounded beastie, but ends up tending to the dragon’s wounds. The dragon, named Toothless, forms a bound with Hiccup, much like Timmy and **Lassie** or **E.T. the Extraterrestrial** and Elliot.

From his relationship with Toothless, Hiccup learns that basic Viking procedural manuals lacks accurate information about innate dragon behavior. Instead of slaying dragons, Hiccup becomes a “dragon whisperer” instead. Infuriated by his son’s behavior, Stoick leads the Vikings on a quest to uncover the dragon’s nest.

**How To Train Your Dragon** is pure family formula entertainment. **How to Train Your Dragon** is a coming of age story. One subtext features the importance of overcoming prejudice for each other’s mutual benefit. However there are enough unexpected moments to keep one concerned about the fates of Hiccup, Toothless and Stoick.

Visually, **How to Train Your Dragon** rivals **Avatar** on the 60 foot IMAX screen. **Dragon** features soaring action sequences and a scary climatic battle to resolve the mystery involving the dragon’s nest. Yet, it is the character details that provide the heart of this **Dragon.** One funny sequences features a dragon chasing a reflection, much like a cat chasing a laser light. While Toothless is speechless, the dragon’s facial expressions rival the acting of Yoda, Gollum and E.T. the Extraterrestrial. **How to Train Your Dragon** is one of the best American made films released this year.
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