Friday, March 26, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon - A Review

Today was a day the boys and I had been anticipating for a few months. It was opening day for DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon. Both my oldest and middle sons have read the series by Cressida Cowell. When we found out they were making a movie version of the first book, we knew we would have to see it. After watching the trailer, my nine-year-old said the movie was very different from the book so I was curious how it would compare.


One of the advantages of being homeschoolers is that we were able to go on opening day during public school hours and have the theater almost entirely to ourselves.


I won't keep you in suspense. We all LOVED the movie! What they are able to do with computer animation these days is truly amazing. The skin and hair on the Vikings' arms looked completely real. The expressions captured on the characters' faces were perfectly human. As someone who can sometimes be bored and watches the clock throughout a children's movie, I was on the edge of my seat, completely immersed in the story from start to finish.

If you're a fan of the books and you go to see the movie hoping for an exact replica, I am afraid you will be disappointed. I have never read the books, but my children tell me that most of the details do not follow the actual story of the novel at all. However, if you (or your children) have never read the books, or go into it knowing that the movie will be different, then I think you will be very entertained. You may have to suspend your belief in reality a bit, which is sometimes difficult for me. The Viking adults all had Scottish accents (Gerard Butler does the voice of Hiccup's dad and I could listen to him talk all day long so no real complaints from me.) and the Viking children all sounded American. But, hey, this is a movie about dragons so how real do I expect it to be?

There are a couple of lessons in How to Train Your Dragon that I think are wonderful for children. There is the idea that just because something has been done a certain way for a very long time, doesn't mean it is the right way. Sometimes ignorance doesn't allow us to see what is real and true. The Vikings in the movie view the dragons as dangerous and aggressive. Throughout the course of the movie, Hiccup learns that maybe they've all been wrong about the dragons and perhaps it is time for change.

Another teachable moment is accepting yourself for who you are and knowing it is okay to be different. It is important to hold true to what you feel is right. That wasn't always easy for Hiccup, but in the end his non-conformity paid off. Without giving too much away, one of my favorite scenes involves a parent's apology. Moms and dads need to be able to say, "I'm sorry" sometimes too.

The movie does contain some violence. It is a story about Vikings and dragons, afterall! Some of the scenes are dark and a bit scary, which are always magnified on the big screen with high volume. I would not recommend this movie for preschoolers. My almost six-year-old did fine, but I probably would not have taken him if it wasn't for his older brothers. It might be better to watch on DVD at home for younger or more sensitive children.

Oh - and the most important part of this review is the boys' ratings. All three of them gave the movie 5 stars (out of a total of five), but I'll let you take that as you will. They have each been known to say that every movie they see is the best movie ever. As for this mom, I give it four stars.

5 comments:

  1. How cool to have the theater to yourselves like that...glad you all enjoyed it.

    What did the boys get to snack on?

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  2. You know I don't normally buy them snacks at the theater, but the tickets were only $5 each and since we went around lunchtime, I treated them to a kids' pack. It had a small popcorn, fruit snacks, and a drink.

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  3. It's really cool that you almost have the theater all to yourself. Thanks for reviewing this movie. My daughter has been begging to see it since the trailer came out. I think maybe we'll go during Spring Break. I'm now following you, and I'm very pleased to meet a fellow Virginian.

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  4. hello carissa! i just had to meet you... there aren't too many of us out there so i get excited when i get to meet another carissa! i'm following you from friday follow. happy weekend! can't wait to read about your homeschool adventures. i was homeschooled - it rocks!

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  5. My daughter and I just got back home after seeing this movie tonight... boy was it ever intense! What a nail-biter!

    Take care. :-)

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