• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

How To Train Your Dragon

TITLE: How To Train Your Dragon

YEAR: 2010

GENRE: Animation and Fantasy  and Family

There is something to be said for the bond in a relationship between man and his dog. It is a special relationship of pure devotion and loyalty that is difficult to find in other areas of nature. The movies have played on this type of relationship over the years in films such as the Rin Tin Tin and Lassie series. How To Train Your Dragon has this type of relationship as the center point of the film, but it is much more than a relationship film. Combing a great storyline, several themes, and stunning CGI animation, How To Train Your Dragon is one of the very best animated films ever released and should be required viewing for anybody who calls themselves a fan of nerd cinema.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is a disappointment to his Viking father Stoick The Vast (Gerard Butler): instead of being the mighty Viking warrior Stoick desires as a son Hiccup is a scrawny teenager who likes to tinker on inventions at the blacksmith shop under the tutelage of Gobber The Belch (Craig Ferguson). The Viking village they all live has a major problem: dragons attack the village and fly away with all the sheep and cattle. During one attack Hiccup happens to shoot down a Night Fury dragon, an unseen dragon that is especially feared by the Viking horde. Hiccup tracks down the dragon and plans to kill it to appease his father, but just can do perform the deed and actually names the dragon Toothless and brings him fish and repairs his tail so it can fly again. Using tricks learned from Toothless, Hiccup becomes an expert on how to subdue dragons without force. This irks fellow Viking fighting student Astrid Hofferson (America Ferrera) and she follows Hiccup to discover his unorthodox friend. After a flight on the back of Toothless, Hiccup and Astrid learns the reason why the dragons are stealing their livestock and the truth is more terrifying than they could imagine.

What makes How To Train Your Dragon such a spectacular production is the excellent and multi-layered storyline that is as good as animation films rise. There are several subplots that make this film rise above almost all other modern animated films: the best aspect is the family conflict between Hiccup, who desires his father’s admiration yet knows he is a disappointment, and Stoick, who struggles with loving his son and overcoming the dissatisfaction of a son who does not follow in his father’s footsteps. We also have a microscope on the tradition of the Viking community to kill the dragons instead of figuring out why they attack and resolving the issues, plus the teen quasi-romance between Hiccup and Astrid all add to a great storyline and give the characters depth and warmth. The voiceover casting definitely helps with the story as the acting is downright excellent, especially Butler as the conflicted father and Ferrera as the young woman who becomes a trailblazer among her Viking brethren. This is not say that the story is all there is to How To Train Your Dragon, as the dragon flying sequences could be some of the very best CGI animation ever created as they are stunning looking, rich, and beautiful. The climax is also interesting in the fact that not everything has a happy ending as most children’s films would have and is more of a making lemonade out of lemons-type of ending.

How To Train Your Dragon grossed over $500 million worldwide and was an international sensation. Two sequels are in the works, with the first one being released in 2014. Let’s hope that these films will be able to capture the magic of the first, as How To Train Your Dragon is a wonderfully made production that is an excellent combination of great storytelling, fantastic effects, and beautiful animation. Essential.

* * * * *

–Mark

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