How to Train Your Dragon
Well, I certainly didn’t see this coming.
Eight years after delivering the last truly great 2-D Disney film (that would be “Lilo & Stitch”), co-writers/directors Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois deliver a 3-D CG classic for the folks over at Dreamworks with this winner based on the children’s book by Cressida Cowell.
Like their earlier film, “How to Train Your Dragon” is about the unlikely bond that forms between misfits. In this case, between weakling Viking Hiccup (a pitch-perfect Jay Baruchel) and the seemingly deadly dragon known only to his village as the Night Fury, which no one has ever seen, much less killed. Dragon killing is a popular sport in this village, led by Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler, in his best performance in a good long while), but the more Hiccup gets to know Night Fury (whom he downed during a dragon raid, and comes to know as Toothless), the more he thinks these creatures are misunderstood.
Sanders and Deblois and co-writer William Davies have turned this into an irresistible coming-of-age story that forms a wonderful bond between man and beast and a rousing adventure around misfits that works as well as Dreamworks’ earlier classics “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda.” They also don’t overuse the 3-D by making things bounce us in front of us, like the makers of last year’s “Monsters vs. Aliens” did, and instead just focusing on creating a beautifully designed world. And it is a wonder to behold, with a John Powell score that anchors the feelings of the story and compliments those wonders effortlessly. Yes, the film is already a hit, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you really don’t know what you’re missing. I plan on watching it again just to be on the safe side.