Published May 27, 2014These days, it is almost inevitable that movie studios will find any excuse to release their blockbusters on Blu-ray multiple times. So with the imminent arrival of How To Train Your Dragon 2 in movie theatres, the first film has been dusted off again and repackaged into a Special Edition that isn't particularly special. Or to put it another way, the original 2010 Blu-ray was perfectly fine.
The movie tells the tale of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), the son of a Viking chieftain and a reluctant trainee dragon hunter. Instead of relying on brute force like everyone else in his village, he wants to use his inventions and knowledge of dragon behaviour to keep them in line. When he accidentally takes down a dragon one night, he manages to locate it the next day and eventually befriends it, naming it Toothless. He even builds it a prosthetic tail to help it fly again. Unfortunately, the rest of the village doesn't approve of this relationship, and when Hiccup suggests that the killing of dragons should stop, he ends up becoming an outcast. After a few bumps in the road, everything works out in the end.
The animation is stunning. Even although it was designed to make the most of the now customary 3-D version, with lots of scenes featuring Hiccup and Toothless hurtling through the sky as they fly at breakneck speed, it works just as well without the third dimension. The movie is wonderfully colourful, and there's a level of detail in both the characters and the background that, probably for the first time, rival a Pixar movie.
The plot, however, will be very familiar to anyone who has seen an animated kids movie in the past decade — it follows the typical plucky underling makes good by the end archetype. All the loose ends tie up nicely, and there isn't much of an emotional rollercoaster to ride along on. It is, however, more entertaining than it should be, thanks to some great action sequences and a bit of comic relief. The cast is great, too — Baruchel is made for this type of work, but even bigger names like Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson sound like they are having a ball. Still, it's ultimately the visuals that make this a memorable movie, and it looks better than ever on Blu-ray.
This new edition doesn't add a whole lot more in the way of extras than its predecessor, but there are a few notable items. Audiophiles will appreciate the 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track, but it is hardly a reason to upgrade to this version. Some of the old extras, such as the animated short Legend Of The Boneknapper Dragon and the deleted scenes, are now only found on the DVD version included in the set, leaving space on the Blu-ray for some new goodies. The pick of those is Book Of Dragons, which adds some interesting background about the real stars of the film, and there's also an interactive version which lets viewers delve even deeper.