DreamWorks’ 3-D interpretation of Cressida Cowell’s tale is fast-flying fun. But admirers of the source material may be caught off guard, because the movie has little in common with the 2004 novel.
Even the basic premise has been changed: In the book, Vikings domesticate dragons; in this version, they destroy them. Teen outcast Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is a disappointment to his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), the leader of a Viking tribe plagued by murderous fire-breathers. Trying to make his papa proud, Hiccup attempts to slaughter a monster, but ends up befriending him instead.
It turns out that the beasts are just misunderstood. Cue a romance between a fellow dragon-slayer trainee (America Ferrera) and Hiccup, plus a scaly showdown and reconciliations between father and son (and between dragon and man).
Despite its formulaic unfolding, the film transcends banality through heartfelt performances and awesome CGI effects. And just think: After the flick’s done, you can buy the book and enjoy a new story. That’s one upside to such an unfaithful adaptation. Raven Snook