Maybe I am suffering from animation burn out as I've watched more animations in the last few weeks than I normally would but "How to Train Your Dragon" didn't blow me away like it has many. Now in fairness it's been many years since I was a child but after reading reviews from adults who loved this movie I thought maybe this would be one of those special animations which worked as much for grown ups as children. Unfortunately whilst I can see why kids would want to watch "How to Train Your Dragon" it didn't do it for me and I put it down to some familiar cliches from a young kid who is different to an unlikely friendship.
The Island of Berk has been around for ever but the houses are new as the Vikings of Berk are plagued by dragons and are forced to battle them frequently. Stoic is the great leader of the village, a muscular brut who legend has it has been battling dragons since he was a baby but when it comes to his con Hiccup he is very different and despite trying to be a dragon hunter hasn't got it in him. But Hiccup has compassion and that makes him an unlikely friend a Night Fury dragon he calls Toothless and together try to bring an end to the fighting between dragons and Vikings.
So in fairness "How to Train Your Dragon" is based on a book by Cressida Cowell and so the actual story of a young boy in a Viking village befriending a dragon is original. But at the same time it all feels so familiar, the kid who doesn't fit in, the one who is brainier ending up becoming friends with the enemy and together trying to change the opinions of others. It works fine for young children but for grown ups or at least this one it left me wishing that something a bit more original could have been found to work the storyline around.
The thing is that how all this plays out is nicely done as we witness Hiccup becoming friends with Toothless whilst being smart enough to learn subtle ways of controlling dragons. There are plenty of amusing scenes from Hiccup using tricks to excel in Dragon school to his accident prone ways. And the whole thing is wonderful animated with detailed and amusing looking characters who have the appropriately fun voices which thanks to Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson all give these animated figures a sense of character. Basically "How to Train Your Dragon" ticks pretty much all the boxes but despite finding some emotion uses the most simplest of cliches which spoils it for me.
What this all boils down to is that "How to Train Your Dragon" works and I am sure it is a wonderful movie for children with plenty of visual humour and entertaining characters. But maybe the fact the basis is familiar will make it less impressive for adults who will have seen the whole friendships with the enemy story done before.