Zero to hero: "Dragon" flies with familiar themes, original visuals

Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) "Trains" Toothless, an injured dragon in Dreamwork's "How to Train Your Dragon" (Photo courtesy of
Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) "Trains" Toothless, an injured dragon in Dreamwork's "How to Train Your Dragon" (Photo courtesy of

By Ian Magnuson
Staff Writer
How to Train Your Dragon
-Four out of four stars
You wake up with a dragon in your room. You go outside and crowds cheer for you. You fly high above the clouds and see the Northern Lights. Possibly no one remembers the mess up you were before all this, but does it matter? No. You’re a hero!

“How to Train Your Dragon” is about a scrawny, young Viking teen named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), the son of Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), the chieftain of the Scandinavian Island Berk, where fighting dragons is not only a way of life, but a necessity for high social placement.

The movie plays on the subject of differences with Hiccup. Most of the village seems to have completely given up on him, including Stoick at one point.

Hiccup seems to have a past before the movie is set, that he screws up things a lot, even though he is only trying to fit in.

It reminds me a lot of the Disney version of “Hercules,” how the main character is only trying to help, but then causes something that ends up hurting him or others. For instance, when Berk is being raided by dragons, Hiccup distracts a dragon that then burns a pillar that then falls on to the docks below.

Right before that happened, Hiccup, a toothpick in the crowd of buffed out hairy Vikings who were taking dragons on with close to nothing but their fists, took down a dragon with an invention he created that fires a net to capture game — or in his case dragons. The dragon landed on a neighboring island and with no one believing that he actually took down a dragon, Hiccup ventures out to find it.

Hiccup is later enrolled in dragon training, where everyone is expecting him to fail miserably, and the first few days he does exactly that. But with the help of the Toothless, the dragon that he freed, that will all change.

Armed with only a knife he approaches the wounded dragon, saying to himself that he will bring back its heart and will be a hero in the town. But persuaded by the beast’s apparent fear, he frees it, later finding out that the dragon is so wounded that it can not fly.

Hiccup goes out often to see the dragon and care for it, learning something new about the mystical creature every visit. On one trip, he finds that dragons only attack in defense — Toothless also LOVES to be scratched with grass.

With the knowledge he keeps learning, Hiccup excels through dragon training, awing everyone.

Equipped with its intense serious moments of battles between dragons and angry Vikings, and the well placed comedic moments like dragons taking on pet-like qualities like rolling around as if they were puppies (with wings and that spits fire), “Dragon” is a must see.

And seeing the movie in 3D is an experience that is worth the extra money. Not everyday do you get fireballs spit at you by flying lizards.

The movie’s overall visual aspect was amazing, showing the detail in the far-off hill and the movement of every strand of Hiccup’s hair in the same shot, without error.

The score of the movie fit in so well, giving hint to the Scandinavian origins.

All in all, the movie earned a five out of five fire balls, and I will not be surprised if the movie is up for Best Animated Feature for this years Oscars.