How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon”  How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_Poster

So, with much hype and the most aggressive merchandising campaign I’ve seen in a long time, “How to Train Your Dragon” was released in late March.  I cannot believe that it took me a month to make it to the theatre to see this film!  (Thank you, Alexa!)  Then again, my life has been especially hectic lately.  My apologies for my lack of reviews lately.

The whole family made it out to see this one, and I have to say it is a wonderful family film!  “Dragon” is the tale of an awkward young Viking named Hiccup that isn’t quite up to the standards of his Viking clan, especially his Chieftain father (voiced wonderfully by Gerard Butler).  The Vikings are locked in a never-ending battle against the dragons that raid their village and steal their livestock.  The Vikings seek the nest of the Dragons, to put an end to the eternal plague of these winged beasts.  Amidst the flying menagerie of dragons is the elusive Night Fury, a shadowy flyer that attacks under cover of darkness with his extremely accurate breath weapon.  Hiccup manages to “capture” a Night Fury dragon and in secret begins to learn about the dragons through his new-found friend, whom he calls Toothless.  Toothless teaches Hiccup that the Vikings impressions about the dragons are not quite accurate.

There’s a lot of underlying “subversive” story themes in this movie, according to some other critics.  These critics have said some harsh things about the movie, like that it teaches the message that “everything you know about the world is wrong”.  I think these critics are ludicrous in these high-brow hyper analyses of an obvious family film.  I’m not saying that animated films can’t be high-brow entertainment, but I am saying that there is a place for those kinds of reviews and this just isn’t that kind of material.  Folks, it’s an animated film.  It has no hidden subtext to the storyline!  Why do people insist on writing such nonsense about a film that is designed to be simply a fun film?  I mean seriously, why?

Anyway, I thought the film was terrific.  I think what the film is really trying to say is that you don’t have to follow the herd to be okay with who you are.  Ironically, it takes a misunderstood reptile that is wounded rather permanently by Hiccup to help this message become a reality.  There are a lot of positive things going on in this animated film that I saw.  Here are a few examples.  Hiccup’s love interest, Astrid, wants to be a dragon slayer and make her clan proud.  However, when she sees the truth about Hiccup’s discovery concerning the dragons, she acknowledges it by helping him out.  She doesn’t “turn him in” or decry Hiccup as bad for their clan.  Hiccup never once admonishes his peers for being who they are or how they are.  He doesn’t even take issue with his father – except when it concerns a suicide mission.  All over this story, I see countless examples of someone of great character and rather positive messages about friendship and heroism.  A quick note on the heroism comment: it can be a heroic thing to truly be yourself and go against the “popular” trends surrounding you – and THAT is more than okay in my book.

There’s laughter to be had in “Dragon”, but really I found it to be a light-hearted tale with a lot of fun and some fantastic animation.  It’s sure to be a hit with nearly any kid, myself included!  The dragons aren’t too scary-looking and Hiccup and some of his friends pretty comical in appearance to boot.  The flying sequences are pretty funny, as are the interchangeable “hands” of Gobbler the Belch.  It’s a delight to see animators having fun with some great material on the big screen again.  This might not be on the level of “Up”, but it sure is fun to watch!

…and that’s it for this edition of “THE REEL VOICE”


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