How to Train Your Dragon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This became an excellent visual presentation.
No issues with sharpness occurred, as the movie offered crisp and detailed images from start to finish. If any softness marred the presentation, I couldn’t find it. Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, and no edge enhancement appeared. I also found no source flaws.
Dragon went with a fairly earthy palette. It favored greens and ambers, with a somewhat subdued feel. The hues seemed well-developed at all times. Blacks came across as deep and rich, while shadows presented good clarity and visibility. This was a very satisfying transfer.
I also felt pleased with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Dragon. With a variety of dragons and all sorts of action sequences, the movie boasted many opportunities to feature all five speakers. It did so quite well. Various effects zoomed around the room to create a fine sense of immersion.
Throughout the film, the components meshed together smoothly and transitioned well. Localization was clean and precise, and the score featured solid stereo imaging. The mix turned into a broad, encompassing piece.
Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie.
When we shift to extras, we locate an audio commentary from writers/directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois and producer Bonnie Arnold. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, visual design, animation, cast and performances, music and editing, and a few related topics.
Though it sags at times, the commentary usually offers a good look at the film. It starts slowly but becomes pretty informative before long. From there the track continues to be largely engaging as it tells us a nice mix of details about the production.
In a similar vein comes The Animators’ Corner. This acts as a “picture-in-picture” program and it provides additional panel remarks from Sanders, Arnold and DeBlois. It also includes separate interview comments from a mix of unnamed participants as well as visual effects supervisor Craig Ring, head of effects Matt Baer, supervising animator Gabe Hordos, actors Craig Ferguson, Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel, Christopher Minta-Plasse, America Ferrera, and Jonah Hill. (Note that the “Corner” never identifies anyone; I listed the names of folks I recognized.)
In addition to all those statements, we get behind the scenes footage, storyboards, animatics and concept art. The subjects cover cast and performances, characters and story, visual and audio design, music, visual effects and animation, and other movie subjects. The “Corner” touches on a broad array of areas and does so in a satisfying manner.
For another feature that accompanies the film, we locate a Trivia Track. This tells us about cast and crew, story/character elements, visual design and animation, cast and performances, and other subjects. The “Track” largely avoids repetition from other areas and develops a lot of good notes for us.
New to the 2014 Blu-ray, we get an episode of Dragons: Defenders of Berk. Entitled “Frozen”, the show runs 22 minutes, 41 seconds and depicts a mission in which Hiccup and Toothless attempt to find a trader lost in icy waters. It’s not a great program, but it offers a nice bonus, and I'm especially pleased to see Jay Baruchel and a handful of other movie actors repeat their roles here.
Another animated piece, Book of Dragons lasts 17 minutes, 38 seconds. Hiccup and pals discuss various dragon varieties and how to train them. This becomes a cute little look at the various beasts.
Similar content can be found in the interactive The Ultimate Book of Dragons. Here we can get a closer examination of various dragons’ abilities/traits via text, stills and animation. It turns into a fun way to learn more.
Four featurettes follow. Viking-Sized Cast goes for 11 minutes, 44 seconds and provides into from DeBlois, Baruchel, Sanders, Arnold, Butler, Ferguson, Mintz-Plasse, Ferrera, Hill, and actors Kristen Wiig, and TJ Miller. This one covers cast, characters and performances. We don’t get many insights here, but I like the shots of the actors in the studio.
During the 10-minute, 57-second How to Draw a Dragon, we hear from supervising animator Gabe Hordos as he shows us how to sketch Toothless. Hordos offers a good lesson that gives us nice notes about design topics as well.
Next comes The Story Behind the Story. It fills seven minutes, 40 seconds with notes from Sanders, DeBlois, Ferrera, Arnold, and author Cressida Cowell. The program looks at the source novel and its adaptation. Cowell’s comments prove to be the most useful and help make this a strong piece.
The Technical Artistry of Dragon lasts 10 minutes, 13 seconds and provides statements from Sanders, DeBlois, Ring, Hordos, DreamWorks Animation Chief Technology Officer Ed Leonard, DreamWorks Animation Head of Digital Operations Derek Chan, Head of Research and Development Lincoln Wallen, and Research and Development Manager Neil Okamoto. “Artistry” looks at effects, dragon design, 3D and other visual elements. The program offers a good overview of some technical areas.
Finally, we get Gobbler’s Training Secrets. This includes six snippets with a total running time of two minutes, 10 seconds. These give us little segments that show the Viking kids as they interact with different dragons. They tend to be fun and amusing.
The disc opens with ads for How to Train Your Dragon 2, Dragons: Riders of Berk, Dragons: Defenders of Berk and Mr. Peabody and Sherman. These also appear under Previews. No trailer for Dragon shows up here.
A second disc presents a DVD copy of Dragon. This repeats the commentary and the episode of Defenders of Berk and adds a couple of components not on the Blu-ray. Legend of the BoneKnapper Dragon goes for 16 minutes, 34 seconds as it offers an animated adventure created for the 2010 home video release of
The scenes also include intros from DeBlois. He tells us a little about the scenes and why they got cut, so he adds useful info.