Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe to Empire!
Save up to 63%
Halo 5 Guardians
The Master Chief returns
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Gerrard Butler
America Ferrera
Jonah Hill
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Jay Baruchel.
Chris Sanders
Dean Deblois.
Cressida Cowell
Dean Deblois.
Running Time
TBC minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Intern, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Nightmare, The
3 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating

How To Train Your Dragon
Rule 1: Don’t show it Pete’s Dragon

submit to reddit

Feckless teenager Hiccup (Baruchel) is an accident-prone misfit living in an island village of Vikings under regular attack from apparently rapacious, fire-breathing dragons. But when Hiccup shoots one down and then tracks it down and befriends it, he comes to question his priorities.

How To Train Your Dragon
We don't see enough dragons on film, and when we do, they spend most of their time hunkered in shadowy caves where the CGI is less costly, or swerving to avoid a flurry of cod-fantasy dialogue. Thank goodness, then, for this 3-D animated dragon’s tale, which, after an ungainly run-up, takes off and soars.

A frenetic opening segment sees dragons attacking a Viking fishing village, all shot in colours of earth and fire and night, but we soon settle into familiar territory: the geeky, klutzy hero Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a disappointment to his huge, manly father Stoick (Gerard Butler). Hiccup resolves to find new ways to fight dragons, and after a machine of his own invention shoots down one of the almost mystical Night Furies, sets off to find his prize. Instead, he finds a wounded beast which he names Toothless, and the two form a symbiotic relationship that becomes the heart and soul of the film.

The bond that slowly develops is beautifully established. Toothless combines a feline capriciousness with a doggy delight in life, but flickers with intelligence more akin to a great ape. Hiccup, meanwhile, slowly sidesteps his clichéd beginnings to find his place as a Viking and a dragon rider.

Inevitably, there’s a bigger, scarier cause behind the dragons’ raids that man and reptile must work together to combat in a staggeringly large-scale finale, and real stakes in the ensuing fireworks. There are moments of brilliance there, both in the aerial dogfighting and the ties that bind the pair. While it might take a sequel to develop those to their full potential, this is probably the best DreamWorks yet.

The start wobbles, but once boy and dragon connect, this becomes a thrilling flight.

Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for How To Train Your Dragon
Empire Star Rating

Very suitable for families

There is just too much I have to say for it to fit in here. So here's a link to my blog and full review 12/11/how-to-train-your-dragon-film-review/ Take a look! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JessssObrien at 14:27, 28 April 2014 | Report This Post

How to Train Your Dragon Review

Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 22:08, 02 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: How To Train Your Dragon

Quite simply a brilliant film IMO, the visuals the action and excitement, some truly great flying scenes and a stunning score. The dragon Toothless is super cute and I have to agree with Helen O'Hara's review that this is the best Dreamworks movie to date. Personally I enjoyed it more than Toy Story 3 as well. ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 19:03, 28 December 2011 | Report This Post

RE: How To Train Your Dragon

This is the least original and most predictable film I've seen this year. The characters lacked depth and charm, the voice casting was terrible, the story was cliche-ridden, even the animation wasn't anything special. And the plot was so tediously predictable it was downright boring. Dreamworks' darkest hour. ... More

Posted by bozo at 02:23, 25 October 2011 | Report This Post

RE: How To Train Your Dragon

I actually thought this was a great film, suitable for both adults and children. Im in my 20's and wasnt bored to death by immature dross. the Cinematics were on point and there seemed to be a realy clarity to both the picture and the plot. I was thoroughly impressed. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Lloyd Ihenacho at 10:41, 13 July 2011 | Report This Post

RE: How To Train Your Dragon

I LOVE HOW TO TRAIN YOU DRAGON!! It's a m a z i n g ! Toothless is just sooooo cute :D ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by megatron_bee at 23:09, 05 July 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Perfect animated movie

Got this and tbh wasn't expecting much from it. Sure I'd imagined it would be decent but I finished it and I was just blown away. Great movie. Perfect. Part of me doesn't even want the sequel which is on the way in case it ruins this great film! Must see for film fans never mind animation fans. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 18:57, 04 May 2011 | Report This Post

Perfect animated movie

This is how an animated movie is done!! Was completely engrossed from start to finish and loving every minute of it, which is more than i can say for most movies.  A great story and animation, puts it right up there with Toy Story! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lukejt02 at 22:47, 27 March 2011 | Report This Post


There are elements here that have been tried and tested before but what sets this apart is the irresistable charm of this movie. The relationship between Hiccup and Toothless is both sweet and funny and with some decent animation, this is quality entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DMeister at 19:28, 25 March 2011 | Report This Post

Average. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 10:42, 14 December 2010 | Report This Post

tp://]How To Train Your Dragon highly enjoyable film with beautiful animations and good humour but every now and again I did find it to be too moralistic. Also, that accent on the Vikings didn`t fit at all although it was fun. But hey, if that is everything that is wrong with it than they could release much more animation films like this! /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:50, 13 December 2010 | Report This Post


Did I imagine it or was the shot when the young vikings first enter the training arena an exact recreation of the shot in Gladiator when Maximus first enters the Collosseum? ... More

Posted by grucl at 12:09, 21 April 2010 | Report This Post


Initially, this film wasn't appealing to me, but it had good buzz so I thought I should go see it. I was pleasantly surprised - I really enjoyed it! I thought the protagonist was suitably identifiable, and Toothless was incredibly cute. The animation was excellent - the 3D enhanced it immensely. It seems to me that, from the films I've seen, 3D works best in animation or CGI-heavy scenes, the effect is not the same with live action films. I have written a view of How to Train Your Dragon on my ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by iheartthetalkies at 12:20, 19 April 2010 | Report This Post


Saw this in 3D yesterday. Beautiful - but what I was also taken by was the artwork in the end credits and I cannot quite find out who the artist was who did it. If anybody knows I would be most grateful. ... More

Posted by megan veigas at 09:03, 19 April 2010 | Report This Post


Happy Birthday! nd yeah the 3D was amazing! ... More

Posted by robwillphill at 13:57, 18 April 2010 | Report This Post


took my family to this for my 40th, not just cos some were too young for other films, but because this is a SUPURB PIECE OF ENTERTAINMENT. I had seen it twice already. ALL LOVED IT, ages 10 to 65. CANNOT BE MISSED. A Thrilling 9/10 (3D) ... More

Posted by empire No. 1 at 04:14, 17 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Beautiful and Sweet Hearted

This film has perhaps one of the longest montages I've ever seen in my entire life. ... More

Posted by maffew at 23:49, 14 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Beautiful and Sweet Hearted

i dont understand the lukewarm reception this film is getting.this is truly one of the greatest animated films of all time!i feel sorry for anyone who misses this film in 3d as it is one of the most thrilling and beatuiful film i have ever seen,and dvd will just not do it justice.go watch it now! ... More

Posted by ogiekeaney at 18:12, 14 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Loved it

3D is a waste of time but it's the norm nowadays, went to watch this because there was nothing else on today. Was a bit disapointed, action was great, story was great, characters were good but the script could have done with a polish. They could have got lots more jokes in, a lot of the dialogue could have been down better. Butler was great, althought not sure why they couldn't have got a scotish actor to play the lead as well, just seemed odd. My biggest complaint is probably with Craig F... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kilo_T_Mortal at 18:30, 08 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Loved it

Dreamwork's CG toons tend to be a bit of a mixed bag, but How to Train Your Dragon is very impressive.   The studio's animated movies usually seem to be better when they minimise the pop culure and 'adult' references, and so it is with this one.  Set in a very impressively detailed Viking world, it's more of a fantasy action film than anything else, and while there are a few well placed laughs, for the most part it's fairly serious.  Much of the time it alternates thrilling ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 17:46, 08 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Loved it

Brilliant family film, the closest Dreamworks has gotten to Pixar yet. Thankfully free of all of the god awful pop culture references that have plagued the majority of Dreamworks back catalogue. See it in 3-D if possible. 4 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 10:38, 06 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Loved it

This is actually better than Shrek... i just really loved it! L: The kUrGaN as an avid Pixar fan, and never been in love with Dreamworks animation, this was a breath of fresh (fiery) air. Some gorgeous animation, and at times a sensitive touching story, mixed in with some breath taking flight scenes and an all action finale to rival the best (and best thing Gerard Butler has done since 300...unfortunately). love Pixar and enjoy ] of the Dreamworks animations, but I have to agree w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 14:45, 04 April 2010 | Report This Post


saw it in the 3d and absolutely loved it in the flight sequences i was on the edge of my seat which was ridiculous considering, the 3d was a definite hit too and you really felt immersed in the action.  Husband bit crazy about it keeps insisting he wants a dragon now........will def buy it when is released!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by VictoC at 14:58, 03 April 2010 | Report This Post


Saw this on Saturday and thought it was great. Will definitely be buying the Blu-ray when it comes out. ... More

Posted by benjaminlwright at 23:48, 29 March 2010 | Report This Post

Denis Villeneuve Talks Sicario
On his cartel thriller and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel

Tomorrowland: The Viewing Guide
Brad Bird talks through his sci-fi adventure, scene by scene

Empire Meets Ridley Scott
The great director on The Martian, Blade Runner 2 and the Prometheus sequels

My Movie Life: Justin Kurzel
The Macbeth director on how Rocky changed his life and the worst ever date movie

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

All Hail Macbeth! The Scottish Play On Film
By the pricking of our thumbs, ten adaptations this way come(s)

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)