Pixar may be the undisputed king of animated features but with this film DreamWorks is officially nipping at their heels and gunning for the title. At first glance a cartoon dragon movie with a slew of comedians voicing the accompanying Viking characters seems like a recipe for a typical cute fun family film but How to Train Your Dragon delivers far beyond that. The film is a sweet story about looking beyond first impressions sprinkled with bits of thoughtful humor (for kids and adults) and wrapped in the beautiful sweeping scenes of a remote Viking nation and the beautiful locales that surround it.
Though the film’s original 3D theater format can’t be beat the Blu-ray still offers a crisp colorful viewing experience that is true to the film’s incredible scenes. As the pipsqueak protagonist Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) rides his pet dragon Toothless through canyons and clouds over the ocean and through forests you can still get a taste of the impossible sights and almost feel the sensation of riding along with the duo.
Like any Blu-ray disc How To Train Your Dragon comes packed with extras that are sure to keep fans entertained. You’ve got your typical behind-the-scenes videos explaining how animators created the world of Vikings and dragons (well worth the watch) and allowing viewers to step into the recording studio with the actors and witness a little of the comedic improvisation that gives the film its extra laughs.
The disc also features pop-up trivia tracks and an animators' commentary with picture-in-picture storyboards and art but the kid-friendly features are the main attraction. It’s got plenty to keep the kiddos busy including a tutorial with one of the animators where you can learn to draw the adorable Toothless a series of chuckle-inducing vignettes about Viking winter sports voiced by the Viking blacksmith Gobber (played by the always hilarious Craig Ferguson) and an amusing Viking personality test that will tell you your aptitude for taming dragons and give you your own Viking-approved name.
The real special feature however is the short film The Legend of The BoneKnapper. The 16-minute feature reunites the film’s entire cast and picks up where the film leaves off with another short adventure for the Viking gang. Gobber and the gaggle of young Vikings (with the help of his pet goat Phil) follow the trail of the mythical BoneKnapper dragon in attempt to find out if he really exists. Despite the absence of Toothless the little vignette is fun and entertaining giving audiences a little extra taste of the cast and story without going overboard. The real gem is Craig Ferguson’s hilarious narration which brings back some of the humorous flavor from the original film.