A young Viking Chief’s son must capture a dragon who has consistently raided his hometown of Burke, in order to cement his manhood and be accepted by his father and fellow villagers. Viking Chief, the macho Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) does not believe his scrawny, inventive son, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), has what it takes to battle a dragon. Nonetheless, the young Viking captures a mysterious and rare Night Fury. Curious and unable to kill the dragon, Hiccup begins a friendship with the dragon whom he calls ‘Toothless’.
Astounding animation. There’s no end to the beauty of the animation in this film. From the scenery to the very specific details of Toothless’ scales. For example, a scene that takes place in a forest shows a close-up of Toothless where a tree in reflected in his iris; When Hiccup reads a book by candlelight, the flames move as he turns each page; There’s even detail in the lighting and shadowing. And can I just add that personally, the scene when a catapult is shot through the dragon cave that lights up all the dragons on the cave wall is really truly magnificent.
The surprising depth to the story. How to Train Your Dragon centers around the pressures of self-identity and growing up including meeting the expectations placed upon you by family, friends, and society. However, the film stays light-hearted by mixing in comedic values. This film sends messages about acceptance and respect, and all of it in a Scottish accent (no explanation as to why it’s Scottish and not Scandinavian - but with Gerard Butler’s accent, we don’t really mind!). Though the story is quite simple, the script offers a lot. Toothless, a character who never speaks, has so much personality that you can imagine him as your own pet while getting a sense of the danger and destruction he is truly capable of. Additionally, the casting choices were brilliant as the voices all fit their character’s personality exceptionally; Jay Baruchel is ideal for the scrawny, awkward Hiccup; Gerard Butler’s deep and crotchety voice is fitting for the Viking Chief; And although America Ferrera voice doesn’t seem like it would match a blonde character, it does reflect Astrid’s confident and mature attitude.