Most of my friends know that I will watch any movie with a dragon in it, no matter how horrible it is. I've endured Reign of Fire, Dungeons and Dragons and Eragon (I secretly enjoyed this one though). They were atrocious movies, but there were dragons so I just had to watch them. Come to think of it, there have been very few truly good dragon movies. The best one I've seen was Dragonheart back in 1996. Well, the best one until now.
"How To Train Your Dragon" is an animated film from Dreamworks, and is now my new favourite dragon movie. Usually, Dreamworks' animated movies aren't as good as the ones from Pixar, but with this movie Dreamworks hits the mark. This is a spoiler-light review of the movie, but stop reading now if you want to know nothing about the story.
The film is about a young viking named Hiccup who lives in a village on an island that's plagued by marauding dragons. Hiccup isn't a model viking as far as the village is concerned, being a bumbling nerd. This is made worse by the fact that his father is the leader of their viking tribe, and he isn't too proud of his son. It is every viking's ambition to kill a dragon, and Hiccup tries to prove his worth by trying to help out when defending the village from dragons, and failing comically in the process. One night, out of sheer luck, he manages to capture a dragon. He initially wants to kill it and prove himself a worthy warrior, but as he takes out his knife, he can't bring himself to kill a trapped creature. He frees the dragon instead, and they become friends. Suffice to say, this eventually causes tensions in the viking village, and estranges Hiccup from his father. The driving plot of the movie is how Hiccup's journey to prove that dragons and humans can peacefully co-exist.
The movie strikes a chord with me; Hiccup's bonding with his animal friends (the dragon reminds me so much of my cat, Henry), of being an outcast and having to prove himself and the overall theme of pacifism that threads through the film makes it a solid and satisfying (to me, at least). Sure, this kind of story has been told before countless times, but the execution is what makes or breaks the tale. Many critics have praised the stunning 3D visuals, but that's just icing on the cake. It's a sweet and fun movie, and I recommend it for all ages.