This week DreamWorks premiered a DVD of Dragons: Riders of Berk, the brand-new animated series airing on the Cartoon Network. Based on the successful animated movie How to Train Your Dragon, viewers will recognize their favorite characters from the feature film – Hiccup, his dragon Toothless, their Viking friends, and a host of new dragons, too.
In the original film Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) was expected to become a dragon slayer, but he rebelled after capturing and befriending a young dragon named Toothless. Between them, Hiccup and Toothless convinced their friends and family that the humans and dragons can work and live together in peace. Dragons: Riders of Berk picks up the story to tell new adventures and to show how the human and dragons of Berk are getting along.
Actors Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), and T. J. Miller (Tuffnut) are once again on hand to voice their characters. Other characters in the series are voiced by Stephen Root, Zack Pearlman, Chris Edgerly, Nolan North, and Tim Conway.
[Hiccup is back, with his trusty dragon Toothless.]
The DVD includes four episodes from the series and many extras, including previews for Dragons: Riders of Berk, the recently released Rise of the Guardians, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. Viewers can also get a sneak peek at a behind-the-scenes featurette on the touring arena show How To Train Your Dragon: Live Spectacular and the upcoming Valentine’s Day television special Madly Madagascar. Subtitles can be accessed in English or Spanish, and closed-captioning is available.
Episodes included on the disc are:
“How to Start a Dragon Academy” – Although the inhabitants of the Isle of Berk have now made peace with the dragons, the winged creatures can still be a source of mischief and mayhem. Hiccup comes up with an idea of how to tame – and train – everyone.
“Viking for Hire” – Gobber doesn’t want a new job, but Berk no longer needs him to make weapons to fight the dragons. How can Hiccup help Gobber find a new career and keep him happy, too?
“Animal House” – The human inhabitants of Berk have accepted their dragon friends and neighbors, but what about the other animals? Hiccup and his friends need to help all of the creatures get along, before Berk’s farm supplies dwindle to nothing in the coming winter months.
“The Terrible Twos” – Toothless is not thrilled when Hiccup discovers a new species of dragon. The dragon is not only injured, but a baby, and Hiccup and his friends soon realize that its mother should be arriving in Berk soon, too, looking for her missing baby.
The series Dragons: Riders of Berk has already been renewed for a second season, which will air before the upcoming feature film sequel in 2014. An extra-special bonus are five collectible Dragon Training Cards linking to a free app, which can be downloaded at DreamWorks Animation Augmented Reality for even more dragon-training fun. After downloading the app, point your smartphone’s camera at a training card image and watch each dragon come to life.
[Hiccup and Toothless and all of their friends.]
The original How to Train Your Dragon film was great to look at, but computer graphics have already improved leaps and bounds since its 2010 release. The characters in Dragons: Riders of Berk are amazingly detailed, with surfaces like fabric, water, hair, and wood realistically rendered. Perspective and shading help to give the episodes a 3-D feel. The colors are bright and shadows dark. The episodes look wonderful on a large-scale high-definition television. The series is rated TV-PG for moderate violence – mostly some fighting amongst the dragons and Viking swordplay. Dragons: Riders of Berk is a highly enjoyable animated series with humor and great visuals which can be enjoyed by family members of all ages.