Brace yourself for the first 10 minutes of How to Train Your Dragon. They're among the most chaotic ever seen in an animated feature, as Scottish-accented Vikings bellow and grunt while warding off a full-scale night attack on their village by flying fire-breathing dragons. All the while our protagonist (a boy named Hiccup) cynically provides commentary with a crash course on the various characters and breeds of dragons—the introductions come so fast amid the dark lighting and shaky "camera" movement, it leaves you wondering which Viking or dragon he's referring to as they run/fly by. I feared the whole movie would be as numbingly busy and confusing.
Have patience. When Dragon eventually finds its wings—along with its heart—it soars.
The latest animated feature from Dreamworks (Shrek, Kung-Fu Panda) is based on the first book in a celebrated series by Cressida Cowell. It's a conventional tale about a boy and his dog (alien, whale, creature du jour) that we've seen aplenty, but I think kids will be dazzled by what they see—as will the jaded adults, thanks to the beautifully rendered animation (well worth viewing in 3D if you can).
Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is a quirky and clumsy teenager who simply wants to fit in with Viking society by becoming a warrior, rather than remain the village punchline. His father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), is the heroic leader of the clan who has trouble seeing his incompetent offspring as anything more than a misfit. Nevertheless, he reluctantly agrees to let Hiccup attend Viking school, even though it probably means his son will get killed during his first (supervised) encounter with a dragon.
That might be the case if it weren't for one pivotal secret unbeknownst to ...