This is Berk. It is a place of imagination, chilling winters and of course…Dragons! Back in 2010 authoress Cressida Cowell and DreamWorks Animation Studios transported us back to the time of the Vikings but with a surprising twist. This time, the Vikings fought with and later tamed gigantic dragons! Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third was a skimpy 15-year-old Viking who just so happened to be the son of the chief and the least Viking-like of the tribe. But what he lacked in brute strength he more than made up for in creativity. Hiccup was an inventor. He kept trying to invent machines to make the fights with these monstrous creatures easier for the tribe to handle. But unfortunately, the contraptions always caused problems instead. He later trains a Night Fury Dragon whom he names Toothless due to the animal’s retractable teeth.
How To Train Your Dragon was all I talked about in 8th grade much to the chagrin of my friends at the time. But I found the story fascinating. I knew very little about Viking lore but was intensely into Greek myths at the time (thanks, Percy!) so learning something about a different culture’s stories attracted me. I also enjoy animated movies and let me tell you that HTTYD had some of a gorgeous visuals of any animated film up to that point. Its sequel did even better in that area. The music was stunning. I bought the whole album right away and fell asleep to it night after night.
But it was the characters that I truly fell in love with and wanted to come see over and over. I gave the studio a lot of my money (I saw it in theaters 4 times). Hiccup and Toothless’s friendship was enchanting. The romance between Hiccup and his crush Astrid, albeit a tad rushed, gave the film a love story every high schooler dreams of. Hiccup’s relationship with his father was realistically rocky. All in all, every character no matter how minor had a role in the story and the creators knew how to execute the roles. The voice acting was very accurate to each character’s age and status of the tribe. Despite it being a clearly children’s movie the story was deep enough for us older kids, and the adults who went, to enjoy.
The sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2, came out the year I graduated from high school. In a way, it felt a lot like I was growing up with these characters alongside me. The film was much more adult while still maintaining that kid heart at its center. The studio realized the audience had grown up as well so it upped the game in every aspect. The visuals were amazing, the music even more pronounced than the last one and the characters matured as expected into blossoming young adults ready to fly off into the world on their dragons. I left the theater decidedly satisfied and ready for the third one, which is slated for release sometime in the next few years.
This movie franchise has grown with and on me. It is by far my favorite of all the DreamWorks movies with Road To El Dorado coming in a close second. The creativity put into the acting, animation and soundtrack makes this movie series as magical as it is. For anyone wanting a lighthearted fun look no further than How To Train Your Dragon!