The first ever Academy Award for Best Picture was given in 1929 to Wings, a World War I aviation drama full of groundbreaking aerial sequences. People flocked to see the film largely because they longed to feel what it might be like to fly.
That old longing is also satisfied in How to Train Your Dragon—though in this case we get to fly among dragons. The visually dazzling DreamWorks animation film, based on the children’s book series by Cressida Cowell, turns out to be strikingly thoughtful as well.
The action unfolds in a Viking village on the isle of Berk, an Odin-forsaken outcropping of rock and forest plagued by dragons that regularly steal the villagers’ livestock. Our hero is Hiccup (deftly voiced by Jay Baruchel), a young, nerdy, skinny misfit, the son of the village’s brawny chieftain (Gerard Butler), who is better suited to inventing clever contraptions than to dragon-slaying.