Despite a secure embarkment on the proven dragon-flying bandwagon, How to Train Your Dragon is a fascinating animation. We have already seen this theme a dozen times from Harry and the Goblet of Fire to Avatar, yet the film has a good story, a well developed boy-pet and boy-father, even a boy-girl relationship. What steals the show, however, is the imaginatively created flying dragons, which do not seem to get old.
On an island inhabited by Vikings (the adults speak with a Scottish and the children with an American accents, for some reason), dragons have been stealing sheep for years, and killing a dragon represents the rite of passage. Hiccup, the chief’s son and the boy everyone makes fun of, befriends a Night Fury, the fiercest type of dragon no one had ever seen before. A cross between Disney’s Stitch and a cuddly cat, this dragon proves to be a faithful pet as much as a fierce fighter. He teams up with the Vikings and a few other selected, domesticated dragons to kill the beast.
After a slow start, the story becomes exciting and free of unnecessary, confusing details. Animation is similar to Dreamworks latest projects, but unlike Monsters vs. Aliens it does not try too much to be funny, and it never becomes absurd. How to Train Your Dragon stays focused on the main character, who tries to fit into his tribe and reconcile his love toward his pet, Toothless, and the unchallengeable Viking tradition. The motley variety of dragons, some resembling snakes and some giant bumble bees, contribute to the overall effectiveness of this animated joy ride. After Kung Fu Panda and the Shrek series, this is definitely the most memorable Dreamworks production so far.