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'Gift of the Night' Fury

A Warm Holiday Special That Happens to Be Gorgeous

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Gift of the Night Fury - DreamWorks Dragons

Gift of the Night Fury - DreamWorks Dragons

DreamWorks Animation
Gift of the Night Fury - Toothless

Gift of the Night Fury - Toothless

DreamWorks Animation
Gift of the Night Fury - Deadly Nadder

Gift of the Night Fury - Deadly Nadder

DreamWorks Animation

Gift of the Night Fury, which picks up where 2010's How to Train Your Dragon left off, is excellent, in every way: animation, acting and story. The only thing wrong with the DreamWorks Dragons holiday special is that it was over too soon. I wanted more, more, more. Lucky for me a sequel to How to Train Your Dragon is set to release in 2014, and even better, Cartoon Network is developing a half-hour animated series based on the movie to air in 2012. In the meantime, Gift of the Night Fury gives you loads of entertainment for an inexpensive price, especially after your kids play it over and over, like mine do.

Story

The dragons, and their trainers, are back in the next chapter to How To Train Your Dragon. The story of Hiccup and Toothless, his soft-hearted Night Fury dragon, continues as they deepen their friendship and lead the others to a new discovery. SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you don't want to know the full story.

In Gift of the Night Fury, the village of Berk is preparing for the holiday of Snoggletog that looks a lot like Christmas. The dragons are helping the townsfolk decorate, when suddenly a flock of dragons appears in the sky. Everyone's dragon takes off to join them, flying away from Berk. All of the dragons except Toothless, who cannot fly without the help of Hiccup.

After that, Astrid and her friends try to cheer up everyone with new traditions, like drinking something horrible called Yak Nog. But Hiccup goes to work on a device that will let Toothless fly alone, which the dragon does as soon as it is strapped on, leaving Hiccup behind in Berk.

When Hiccup discovers that Fishlegs has been hiding his dragon, Meatlug, he winds up with all the dragons who have migrated to a volcanic island to lay eggs. Just as he realizes the island is the best place for the dragons to nest because the eggs explode, the villagers discover the same thing, but with much more destructive consequences.

Finally, Hiccup brings the dragons and their babies home to the grateful villagers. Astrid is consoling Hiccup about Toothless being away just as the dragon returns with a gift for his best friend.

The story is well-written, with dialogue for all our favorite characters. Humor, melancholy and warmth are woven together to create a half-hour cartoon that is part holiday special and part bridge to the next chapters of How to Train Your Dragon.

I had expected sound-alikes to take over for Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and America Ferrera. (Not Craig Ferguson, however. He never says no.) Wonderfully, all the original cast are back to voice their characters.

The only part of the story that rubbed me the wrong way was having Astrid become a party hostess. Throughout the movie How to Train Your Dragon her character is continually represented as the anti-girl, tough and manlike. Here she becomes the Disney princess of the dragon trainers. The running gags of the Yak Nog and the exploding eggs are funny, and give this main character more to do in a jam-packed story than other characters, but I would have liked to have seen something more in line with her rough-around-the-edges character.

That tiny criticism aside, Gift of the Night Fury went beyond my expectation for a franchise segment that's straight-to-DVD. The story is heartfelt, so much so that I always tear up at the end, just as the bagpipes swell to song.

Book of Dragons

One of the extras on the DVD is Book of Dragons, which gives you a rundown of all the dragon classes with examples for each one. The information is framed in a story about Bork the Bold, who begins his dragon training career as Bork the Unfortunate.

Book of Dragons isn't much of a story, but more a series of humorous shorts strung together, with narration by Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs and Gobber. Traditional cel animation is used effectively for the parts about Bork and the Dragons, making the CGI of the rest of the cartoon seem more lifelike than ever.

Whether or not I thought Book of Dragons runs long and gets boring didn't matter; my children love watching it and choosing their favorite dragons.

Extras and Blu-Ray

The bonus features on Gift of the Night Fury are plentiful and fun, especially for DreamWorks Animation fans who want to know more about what happens behind the scenes. You can learn to draw a Baby Gronckle or watch deleted scenes in animatic form with introductions explaining why they were deleted.

Plus, children can enjoy games, like "Spot the Difference," or use a code to try the new online video game.

As for the Blu-Ray, I had never really noticed much difference until this DVD. I could see every freckle on Hiccup's face and every scale on Toothless. The landscape became vivid and the characters were as 3D as you can get without glasses.

From the Press Release

The DreamWorks Dragons Blu-ray/DVD Combo and Video Game Pack includes the following:

On Blu-ray:

  • DreamWorks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury
  • DreamWorks: Book of Dragons
  • Gift of the Night Fury: The Animators' Corner (Blu-ray Exclusive)
  • Ultimate Book of Dragons (Blu-ray Exclusive)
  • Gobber's Training Secrets
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Spot the Difference
  • Learn How to Draw a Baby Gronckle
  • World of DreamWorks Animation
  • Previews
  • Hatch a Dragon

On DVD:

  • DreamWorks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury
  • DreamWorks: Book of Dragons
  • Gobber's Training Secrets
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Spot the Difference
  • Learn How to Draw a Baby Gronckle
  • Previews
  • World of DreamWorks Animation

Dragon Lair (DVD-ROM)

  • How to Host a Snoggletog Party
  • Your Book of Dragons
  • 3-D Land of the Dragons

Dragons Online Video Game: The ultimate interactive Dragons challenge! Once you've learned all the insider training secrets in the Book of Dragons, you're ready to use your exclusive game card to gain access to this all-new, high-quality video game.

  • Create your own Viking avatar
  • Learn to train Dragons
  • Fight epic dragon battles with 14 battle arenas, 8 Dragon lairs and 4 legend games
  • Challenge the Dragons you loved in the film
  • Discover and battle seven never-before-seen Dragons
  • Earn training and battle badges

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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