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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

December 3rd, 2011

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury - Buy from Amazon: DVD Double-Pack or Blu-ray Combo Pack

How to Train Your Dragon was nearly universally praised and became a larger than expected hit at the box office. It's no surprise that they are working on a sequel. In the meantime, the studio released a couple short films Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury / Book of Dragons on DVD and Blu-ray. Are these worthy successors to the film? And is there enough entertainment here to justify picking it up?

Gift of the Night Fury

The Vikings living on Berk have a hard life, but they do find time to celebrate Snoggletog, their annual holiday. This will be the first Snoggletog, since the end of the dragon war. At least that's what they thought would happen, but while they are decorating, a swarm of dragons fly off into the distance and all the town's dragons follow them. All except Toothless, Hiccup's dragon, because he can't fly without Hiccup operating his prosthetic tale. Hiccup decides to fix this by building Toothless a new prosthetic tale, one he can operate all by himself. And as he puts it on Toothless, his dragon, takes off to follow the others.

So now there are no dragons in all of Berk or so they think. It turns out Fishlegs had kept Meatlug, his dragon, chained in the barn. When Hiccup opens the door, Meatlug breaks his chains and flies off to where the other dragons went, with Hiccup as his accidental passenger. So where are all of the dragons flying off to? And why are they going there?

This TV special is a good accompanying short film using the world of How to Train Your Dragon quite well. There's a lot more action than most holiday specials, plus it has the heart needed to be a holiday special. It is short at just 22 minutes long and the plot is rather thin with a lot of the running being taken up with the action. However, it is still a very entertaining short film. And along with the impressive technical aspect, it is among the best Dreamworks TV specials, if not the best they've put out.

Book of Dragons

The second short film is an instructional manual for new dragon trainers with the viewer being the new recruit. We learn about several dragon species, including many that were not in the movie. It's shorter than the first special, there's no real plot and a lot of the 3D animation is borrowed from the previous releases. (Mostly the movie, but also the bonus short from the first Blu-ray release.) It would make a really good extra, but it is too short and lacks depths to stand on its own.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD start with Gobber's Training Secrets, a short featurette that gives some tips on how to train different types of dragons. Think of it as an extension of Book of Dragons. There are five minutes of deleted scenes, a How to Draw featurette, Spot the Difference game and some crayon drawings come to life.

There are a couple extras exclusive to the Blu-ray, starting with The Animator's Corner, a Picture-in-Picture commentary track for Gift of the Night Fury. Ultimate Book of Dragons is like a combination of Book of Dragons and Gobber's Training Secrets with some interactivity added in.

The technical presentation of the Blu-ray is mixed. Gift of the Night Fury looks and sounds fantastic. It is feature-length quality material; it's near reference level quality. On the other hand, Book of Dragons is TV level quality. The Blu-ray only costs $4 more and with the exclusive extras, it is certainly worth the upgrade. However...

The Verdict

While Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury is worth watching, paying nearly full price for just 40 minutes of entertainment is not worth it. Even adding in the extras, there's less than a hour on the Blu-ray. If you are intent on purchasing, then get the Blu-ray Combo Pack over the DVD Double-Pack, but unless you can get it cheap, a rental will be enough.

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Filed under: Video Review, Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury