Based loosely on a 2003 children’s book of the same name, the film delivers the visual re-telling of a fictional Viking community and their quest to slay, and later on co-exist with dragons. Hiccup, played by Jay Baruchel (Almost Famous), is not your average teen Viking inclined to a life of bravery and dragon-slaying. Initially, he planned to compensate for this lacking quality by inventing devices that could bring down a dragon for him. He does this successfully when he used a catapult and was able to capture a Night Fury, the most elusive and dangerous dragon of all. They later form an unexpected friendship that shocked the whole town, especially his father, who also happens to be the village chief (Gerard Butler).
Also featuring voices of America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) as Hiccup’s love interest Astrid, and Jonah Hill (Superbad), it’s a new way to relive a time and place so often shrouded in mystery by historical records. Of course, it may have taken more liberties in conveying what Viking culture would normally be, but that is insignificant considering this is a film made primarily for kids and not for The History Channel. More surprising is the fact that the appeal is not only for its main audience, but for adults as well. This is something you wouldn’t feel embarrassed of watching even if you’re 50 years old. The story is uncomplicated, charming and intelligently funny.
The animation is one you would expect from the Dreamworks studios, although it’s not as brilliant as Avatar or Alice in Wonderland, there are some amazing shots that hold your attention long enough. The story, however, more than makes up for the missing visual vitality. It definitely is worth watching – even in 2D.