Release Date: March 26
Writer/Directors: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
First, my five-year-old son’s review of this movie: “I’d like to see this movie one million times. [Pause, deep in thought.] And I think if I saw it one million times, I’d want to see it one million more times.”
My feelings were somewhat more restrained, but as a childhood fan of Anne McCaffrey and The Neverending Story, I get his enthusiasm. It’s a movie about flying a dragon. That’s the only thing that trumps pet robots and dinosaurs.
Writer/directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders use our preconceptions of Vikings—big swarthy, stubborn men and women who refuse to leave their cold, barren, inhospitable lands, even as regular dragon attacks cost them their sheep, homes and limbs—as the foil for its undersized, unathletic hero. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the chief’s son, who has no hope of living up to the dragon-slaying example set by his father. But the young lad hopes anyway. When cleverness and a little luck present him with the opportunity of slaying his first dragon, he finds he’s also cursed with the very un-Viking-like trait of pity.
What ensues is a film about standing up for what’s right in the face of what’s unpopular. Hiccup is weak and uncoordinated, but he’s clever, brave and principled, and these traits are what help him save the day, make his dad proud, etc.—and fly a dragon. We saw the movie in 2-D, but between this and Avatar, 3-D was specifically created to capitalize on our collective desire to fly a dragon/alien creature that’s basically a dragon with flammable breath.
But even if that’s the film’s real raison d’être—much of the screentime is given to aerial training, aerial romance, aerial battles—the result is fun and thrilling, and plenty of snappy jokes and sight gags will keep audiences of all ages entertained. On the first viewing, anyway; I make no promises for the next 999,999.