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Bitter Balcony Rolls our 8-sided Dice with How to Train Your Dragon


How to Train Your Dragon

In DreamWorks' latest animated adventure, “How to Train Your Dragon,” Viking warriors have their village sacked and torched by dragons that are as threatening as Pokémon (yes, you moms and dads out there, we see a Christmas tree stocked with these cuddly lizards in your future). Children will also be captivated by the story of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), a lanky Norwegian boy whose meager fighting skills are met with disappointment by his father Stoick (Gerard Butler), who happens to be the village’s general.

Overprotected by dad and his right-hand man Gobber (Craig Ferguson), Hiccup’s desire to combat the fire-breathing monsters is left sheltered in his shack. Nonetheless, Hiccup’s talent for gadgetry leads him to trap the evasive Night Fury dragon. Unfortunately, nobody witnesses this and he’s still the source of ridicule in town, including Hiccup’s center of affection Astrid (America Ferrara), a dragon-slayer in training.

As Stoick leaves to find the Dragon lair, Hiccup trains for battle with Gobber and other, better-equipped kids. While trying to live up to his father’s lofty goals, the boy encounters the Night Fury he captured. Unable to slay the dragon, Hiccup frequents the cove where the beast lives. As Hiccup mends the dragon’s wound and learns to fly with it, a friendship develops between him and the Night Fury, who he names Toothless. Hiccup becomes a master dragon-trainer, a skill that earns him celebrity status.

Stoick doesn’t find the lair, but he is pleased with his son’s coup. Hiccup, concerned about not letting his father down while also trying to protect Toothless, is taken by his pet and new ally Astrid to the secret dragon cave. Hiccup finds out the horrible secret the scared dragons deal with, a colossal mother beast. Now, Hiccup must find a way to reveal the truth to his father and hopefully secure peace between the two worlds by destroying the larger menace.

Bitter Balcony got to see “How to Train Your Dragon” in glorious 2-D, for those who remember the days when we didn’t need glasses and an eight-story screen to enjoy a movie (Damn you, Cameron!). Not to worry, the animation is good, with well-staged action sequences full of kinetic movement and energy. That’s no coincidence, since veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins (“No Country for Old Men,” “Jarhead”) was a visual consultant for this project. Directed by “Lilo and Stitch” creators Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, “How to Train Your Dragon” on its’ technical qualities alone sets a new bar for animated movies.

As far as story goes, many adjectives could be applied: adorable, cute, charming. Or for cynics out there: formulaic, predicable, digestible. We think it’s like choosing the letter D from a multiple-choice test – all of the above would be the correct answer. DreamWorks has never produced an animated film with the depth of rival Pixar (with the probable exception of “Shrek”), but this all-ages movie is fun enough to keep the kids perplexed while not putting their parents in the awkward position of answering questions about the underlined maturity of an “Up” or “Ratatouille.” Like the endearing Toothless, the film’s puppy dog eyes are too tender not to be enjoyed.



Official website:

How to Train Your Dragon


Directed by: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Written by: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, Cressida Cowell (story)
Cast: Voices by Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrara

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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