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How To Train A Dragon - Review

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Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a young Viking whose village is continually pestered by dragons. Every citizen's primary concern is learning how to kill the beasts, which regularly raid the place for food. Hiccup is a disappointment to his father, the mighty Stoick (Gerard Butler), because he lacks the brawn and temperament necessary to hunt dragons.

While dad is off on an expedition to find the dragons' nest, which Vikings have sought for centuries and never found, Hiccup takes training courses from an eager old veteran named Gobber (Craig Ferguson). His classmates are a handful of other kids his age, who tease him for his weakness while bragging about their own dragon-killing prowess. But in a meadow outside the village, Hiccup comes across a smallish dragon, black and sleek and unable to fly because of a tail injury. Given the opportunity to kill the beast, his first! Hiccup finds he cannot do it. The poor thing is as scared as he is.
A bond develops. Hiccup and the dragon, dubbed Toothless, become friends. Hiccup discovers that most of the Vikings' information on dragons is wrong. Until now, no one has ever spent enough time with one to learn anything other than how to kill it. Perhaps there is a way for Vikings and dragons to co-exist peacefully? Perhaps this has all just been a big misunderstanding?

The film has some of the most beautiful flying scenes ever caught on film, or should one say on a computer. After Hiccup finds Toothless, he realizes that by shooting him down, he ruined his tail and the left half of his tail wing is missing. This makes Toothless unable to fly out of the pit he is caught in. Hiccup creates a paper wing for Toothless and essentially trains him to fly all over again. These scenes are so fascinating and joyful to watch. Anytime he and Hiccup are flying through the Island, you get that Avatar vibe but you realize how much more chemistry and connection you feel to the characters in this film. That's all I kept thinking about the entire movie. This is the same story as Avatar just done in a much better light.

The vocal talents do a fine job bringing their animated characters to life. You can just see Bruchel"s (She"s Out of Your League) neurotic mannerisms in Hiccup, and Butler"s bravado in Stoick. Also good are America Ferrara as the tough Viking-in-training Astrid and Hiccup"s object of desire.

The messages in the film may be simplistic, but they are heartwarming. Go enjoy this fun ride for the entire family.

Starring: Featuring voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig

Directors: Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

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