REVIEW: How to Train Your Dragon
When your children grow up and leave home, one of the regrets is that until they give you grandchildren, you have little excuse to go see the fun family films that keep rolling out. As a result, I missed How to Train Your Dragon when it arrived in 2010. I was told by those still with kids that it was a charming, funny film. Thanks to Paramount Home Entertainment, I finally caught up with it now that it has been rereleased today as a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital combo pack.
The unfortunately named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a young Viking growing up on the island of Berk. His father, the better named Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), is the tribe’s chief who insists that the youngsters are taught how to fight the fearsome dragons that share the island. Hiccup is destined for greatness – at least that’s the hope; he’s actually skinny and weak and prone to accidents — when fate shakes things up as he saves an injured young beast named Toothless. They bond and Hiccup is handed a new destiny: he has to convince the tribe that their ways are wrong and that the dragons are really allies not dinner.
It’s an uphill battle complicating with the distracting affection he has Astrid (America Ferrara). She, of course, sees him as annoying, clumsy boy. Their friend Gobbler (Craig Ferguson), a blacksmith. supplies support, crazy mechanical inventions, and even more comic relief.
Directors Chris Sanders and Dean DuBlois do a fine job adapting Cressida Cowell’s young adult novel. They make it heartwarming and funny, charming and goofy without tripping over the line and getting excessive on any account.
The current high definition disc is a visual treat for young and old alike. The 1080p transfer is pristine, keeping all the color bright and vibrant. Coupled with the wonderful 7.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless soundtrack, the viewing experience at home is superb, matching the film’s entertainment value.
This edition comes with a sticker on the slipcover offering $7.50 off a movie ticket for June’s obviously named How to Train Your Dragon 2. There are a bunch of extras carried over from earlier editions of the film such as the filmmaker’s commentary, a trivia track, the PiP feature “The Animators’ Corner”, and the featurettes “The Story Behind the Story” (7:40), “The Technical Artistry of Dragon” (10:13), “Viking-Sized Cast” (11:44), and “How to Draw a Dragon” (10:52).
New additions, and welcome ones, include “Frozen” (22:41), billed as an “exclusive episode” of the TV show Dragons: Defenders of Berk; “Book of Dragons” (17:38), a short that provides additional details about the fire-breathing dragons; Ultimate Book of Dragons, an interactive feature; and, Gobber’s Training Secrets” (2:10), a series of short vignettes about dragons.
Two more extras — the short film “Legend of the BoneKnapper Dragon” (16:33), and deleted scenes (7:33) – can only be found on the DVD.