How to Train Your Dragon (also known as How to Train Your Dragon 3D or just Dragons) is a computer-animated film by DreamWorks Animation based on the 2003 book of that same title. The film is directed by Lilo & Stitch directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who worked at Disney. The film stars the voice talents of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Craig Ferguson.
The film was released on March 26, 2010. It received widespread universal acclaim and was a commercial success, grossing $494 million worldwide against it's $165 million budget.
A sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, was released on June 13, 2014.
Hiccup is the only son of the Viking Chief, on the island of Berk, which is beset by dragons that raid their stock of sheep. Hiccup works as an apprentice to the blacksmith. Hiccup explains to the viewer that he is a small Viking, and doesn't have the strength or skill that his fellow Vikings have and is somewhat overlooked and not taken very seriously among his tribe. He also explains that his tribe celebrates strong dragon slayers, and he desperately seeks to become one. His father does not wish for his son to be hurt, especially because he doesn't have the strength to survive, and generally avoids having him included in the more violent aspects of the tribe.
During a raid, Hiccup shoots down a rare and greatly feared dragon called a Night Fury with a bolas cannon that he made, but no one believes him. Attempting to get proof, Hiccup goes to the woods and finds the downed dragon, but cannot bring himself to kill it. He frees it and it aggressively sizes him up before flying off to a canyon.
Stoick enrolls Hiccup in dragon training with the other village youths and leaves with a search party of Vikings to find the Dragon’s Nest, in order to wipe them out and finish the war. After being told that dragons are vicious and will always "go for the kill," Hiccup returns to the forest, wondering why the Night Fury didn't. The Night Fury is still trapped in the canyon, and is missing a part of its tail from the previous crash landing, leaving it unable to fly properly. Hiccup decides to befriend the dragon, which he names Toothless, and eventually fashions an artificial tail fin and control harness. While helping Toothless fly again, Hiccup gains an extensive appreciation of dragons. With this knowledge, Hiccup is able to progress in dragon combat training to the amazement of his classmates and the jealousy of Astrid, who becomes strongly suspicious. He is given a book by Gobber that contains much knowledge of the different species of dragon that assail the village, and he quickly finds through his own interactions with the dragons that the information within the book is wrong.
Stoick and his army return battered and tired, without having found the nest. However, Stoick's spirits are lifted when Gobber and others begin congratulating him on Hiccup's rise as a formidable warrior. Feeling a chance to bond with his son, Stoick honors Hiccup with a Viking helmet made from half of the breast plate of Hiccup's late mother.
When Hiccup earns the right to kill a dragon as a graduation rite, he decides to leave Berk with Toothless to avoid performing such an act. Astrid follows him to the hideout and discovers his friendship with the dragon. She tries to run back to the village, but Hiccup and Toothless stop her by picking her up and flying her to the top of a nearby tree; where she is stuck. Hiccup asks for a chance to explain, and they take her for a ride. In their flight, they get caught in a herd of dragons carrying food and follow them to their nest. There, they discover that the dragons steal food to feed a much larger, parasitic dragon (aka the Green Death, called the Red Death in the film) that eats them if they do not provide enough food. After they leave, Astrid wants to tell the village of the nest's location, but Hiccup decides against it in order to protect Toothless. Astrid agrees to keep quiet for the night.
The next day, during Hiccup's graduation, he throws down his weapons and tries to show everyone that dragons are not as bad as they seem. Stoick shouts to stop the battle before Hiccup can continue, and the agitated dragon attacks Hiccup. Toothless hears Hiccup's screams and rushes to save him. He quickly overpowers the dragon, the Vikings sent to capture him, and finally Stoick. He opens his mouth to kill the tribe leader, but at the last second Hiccup screams "No!" Toothless backs off and becomes tame and docile, and is quickly pinned by Vikings. Stoick confronts Hiccup angrily at learning about his son's friendship with a dragon. Hiccup accidentally tells him that he has been to the nest, and Stoick decides to use Toothless to lead them there, ignoring his son's desperate warnings about the nest's true danger, and disowning him in the process.
The Vikings set sail with Toothless, leaving Hiccup with Astrid. He notes that this situation would not have happened if he had killed Toothless in the first place, but he also discovers that he was merciful towards Toothless because of compassion, not weakness. Invigorated, Hiccup decides to use the dragons the Vikings use for dragon fighting practice to fly to the nest to help his tribe. Astrid gathers fellow classmates Tuffnut, Ruffnut, Fishlegs and Snotlout to help, and all mount the training dragons and set off after the Vikings.
As the Vikings arrive at the nest, all the dragons flee the island in the resulting attack and the roused giant dragon sets all the boats on fire, including the one to which Toothless is chained. Hiccup and the others arrive, and, while he goes to free Toothless, the others try to distract the giant dragon. As the boat is sinking, Hiccup tries to free the still-chained Toothless but nearly drowns. Stoick saves both his son and Toothless. Before Hiccup flies off on Toothless to fight the Red Death, Stoick apologizes and states that he is proud to call Hiccup his son.
During the aerial battle, the Red Death and Toothless face off. The Red Death burns away Toothless' prosthetic wing, but Hiccup manages to get Toothless to set the Red Death's insides on fire. The Red Death then crashes to the ground, causing an explosion. Hiccup is knocked out and falls into the explosion, and Toothless dives in to save him. Stoick searches the rubble for his son, but only finds Toothless; at first, everyone thinks Hiccup has died in the explosion, but Toothless reveals that he saved Hiccup by wrapping him in his wings.
Hiccup reawakens in his home some weeks later, to find Toothless by his bedside. As he is getting out of bed, he realizes that his left foot was lost in the explosion and has been replaced with a prosthetic made by Gobber, parallel to the artificial tail-fin created by Hiccup for Toothless; outside, he sees that the Vikings have invited the dragons to live in the village. Hiccup is welcomed back as a hero and receives a passionate kiss from Astrid. After Hiccup gets a new prosthetic wing for Toothless, Hiccup and Astrid race their dragons through the newly-reformed Berk, signifying a new beginning for both worlds.
Cast and characters
- Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, the film's protagonist and son of chief Stoick the Vast. According to his cousin Snotlout, he is nothing like his father, is not suited to be the future chief, and is wimpy. Hiccup finds and befriends an injured dragon named Toothless, bringing into conflict his new friendship and the village's tradition of dragon-fighting.
- Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast, the short-tempered chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe and Hiccup's father. He hopes his son will mature up and become strong enough to be chief one day, but it does not seem to go well for him.
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs - Fishlegs is Hiccup's best friend who does not seem to be good at any of the subjects that the teachers in the Viking training program teach. Fishlegs is nervous and frightened to do perilous things at times, but remains Hiccup's best friend. He owns a dragon named Meatlug.
- Jonah Hill as Snotlout the son of Hiccup's uncle, making him Hiccup's cousin. Snotlout hopes to be the chief one day, but Hiccup is the heir (in fact, if something happened to Hiccup, he'd be next in line for the job), which has spawned a hatred between them. He is strong and muscular, and is good at being a Viking. Snotlout owns a dragon named Hookfang.
- America Ferrera as Astrid Hofferson , a young Viking girl who goes to school with Hiccup, and perhaps Hiccup's love interest. She's the best fighter and gymnastic among her peers. She's also smart and observant as she the only one who notices Hiccup's strange behavior. She hates being picked-up or touched by other boys. When that happen, she hits them in many different ways. She owns a dragon named Stormfly.
- Craig Ferguson as Gobber the Belch, the head teacher in charge of the Viking Initiation Program. He's loud, short-tempered, and finds everyone in his program pathetic, except for Astrid.
In initial development, the plot followed the original novel closely but was then altered. About halfway through production, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, the writer-directors of Disney's Lilo & Stitch, took over as co-directors. The original plot was "heavily loyal to the book", but was regarded as geared to a too-young demographic and too "sweet" and "whimsical", according to Baruchel. In the novel, Hiccup's dragon, Toothless, is incredibly small for a dragon. In the film, Toothless is a Night Fury, the rarest of all dragons, and is large enough to serve as a flying mount for both Hiccup and Astrid.
The filmmakers hired cinematographer Roger Deakins (known for frequently collaborating with the Coen brothers) as a visual consultant to help them with lighting and overall look of the film and "add a live-action feel".
The film received critically acclaimed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 98% of 150 professional critics have given the film a positive review with an overall rating average of 8.0 out of 10.
- After the boy sitting on the moon in the DreamWorks Animation logo at the begining of the film flicks the fishing line, a black shadow can be briefly seen obscuring some of the stars to the right of the moon as it flies past. This is likely Toothless, as it is the only black dragon shown in the movie.
- This is the first time that DreamWorks Animation releases three films in the same year, while the other films are Shrek Forever After and Megamind.
- This is the first film to use the new DreamWorks Animation logo.
- This is also the second movie Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were in together since 2007's Superbad.