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This DVD has drawn some pretty harsh reviews, most of which stem from the fact that main feature is only 22 minutes long. With a purchase price of £6 from Amazon, I did waiver a bit as to whether to buy this or wait until after Christmas when I expect used copies will be available. ( There are a few available now but they cost more than buying a new copy by the time you pay postage.) But it is a Christmas special so of course it really is more fun to watch before the holidays, and as much as my youngest loved the original movie, I was sure this would be a big hit - so I splashed out.
Even though this is very short - I do feel it was worth the purchase price. The animation is of the same high quality as the original film and the story is well written and very enjoyable. It begins with the Vikings preparing for their winter holiday - the word Christmas is never actually used but they do have a giant wooden Christmas tree and holiday lights all over the village. Everyone is looking forward to the best holiday ever when all of the sudden - the dragons all take flight and leave. All of them except Hiccup's Dragon - Toothless who can not fly without Hiccup due to a tail injury from the first film. Hiccup sadly decides to build a better replacement tail for Toothless- giving the dragon the freedom to leave as well. Everything goes from bad to worse after this - and it looks like this may be the worst holiday ever for the Vikings - but can Hiccup save the day?
It sounds like the first part of this film might be a bit sad - but there is always enough humour to keep the viewer laughing - and being a child's Christmas film I don't think it will count as spoiler to mention that it does have a very happy ending - with the most wonderful gifts of all for the Viking children. I think holiday films are a wonderful way to start getting into the holiday spirit - and - as far as I am concerned - Christmas is a season - it is simply too much fun to only let it last one for day. my sons both did complain that this film was a bit short, but they loved all the same, and I'm sure it will be watched many times over the next month and become a part of our own family Christmas tradition.
I do think Dreamworks felt they needed to add a few extras though, in order to sell us on a dvd with such a short main feature. So they sell this as two stories, adding The Book of Dragons which gives us a look at the book first seen in How to Train Your Dragon. This is not done in the same cgi dreamworks animation though. As we look at the pages of the book, drawings come to life - and for the most part we have a very crudely drawn cartoon about Berk the very, very unfortunate - later known as Berk the Bold. There are a few cgi images but unless I am mistaken, every one of these is a clip from the original film. Still this story was quite funny, and again the children enjoyed it. It is also rather short though with a running time of 18 minutes.
In addition to these, the disk does contain a few extras. The best of these was a short film on how to draw a Gronkle. There were also some scenes that were cut from the main film, and a dvd rom section which we have not used. There was a sneak preview of a new arena spectacular of How to train Your Dragon, created by the same team that did the Walking With Dinosaurs tour. As this is not something we would have any of hope of being able to afford to attend - we didn't bother watching this either. Finally there was what looked a passable game where you spot the differences between two dragon or Viking pictures. After 30 minutes of trying to get it to work - I gave up and never want to see ******* thing again!
Admittedly this dvd is light on content. But I was aware of this when I ordered so I won't rate down on that fact. I do feel £6 is a little bit dear for such a short film, but we really did love it, and I have to admit - if my dvd were damaged I'd pay twice the price for a replacement. It really is that good. If you are expecting a feature length film, you will be terribly dissapointed but if you are a happy enough to have an exceptionally well animated short holiday special , this is well worth the purchase. I do feel this film is best suited to those who have already seen the main feature film.