Directors: Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera
Despite having produced Shrek, Wallace & Gromit and Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animations has had to deal with living in Disney Pixar's shadow for a long, long time. This year's breakout hit, How To Train Your Dragon (based on the 2003 novel of the same name), is another step on the road to rectifying this.
Set on a small, Viking-inhabited island called Berk, the story follows the eternally clumsy Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), whose accidental friendship with a supposedly deadly dragon, Toothless, changes the lives of everyone - and everything - involved. Despite securing the number one spot in the North American box office in its first week of release, with takings of approximately $44.7 million, the film's commercial performance was considered disappointing. But HTTYD managed to stay in the top five at the North American box office for far longer than expected, eventually raking in over $200 million dollars in the US market alone, and becoming DreamWork's most commercially successful film after the Shrek series.
Every aspect of the film - the vivid animation, the wonderfully voiced characters - is excellent, and the British composer John Powell's soundtrack is particularly breathtaking. This is Powell's sixth collaboration with DreamWorks, and his soaring, epic compositions are quite simply astounding, further adding to the magic of the story.