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Gift of the Night Fury


It’s the Viking holiday (that isn’t Christmas – but blatantly is Christmas) and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and the town are still having fun with their new found friends the dragons, that is until the dragons all take to the sky and fly off with no explanation. With one dragon left in the town, Hiccup gets taken to where the dragons have migrated to and discovers the secret to their sudden departure.

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury
Never one to miss a trick, Dreamworks Animation decide to get in an animated short of their the popular How To Train Your Dragon before the eventual sequel rolls around. Thankfully they’ve opted for something with a story as opposed to the mini romps most of the Shrek specials were and with rumours of a TV series of ‘ Dragons’ on the way this is a good example of what might be to come.

Running just shy of 22 minutes, Gift of the Night Fury, provides a pretty well rounded tale. It’s all been done a thousand times before with festive stories. Hitting the same old stepping stones of adults busy preparing, something ruining it, then finding a new way to celebrate the holidays only for everything to be set right in the end and probably better than they would have been if everything had gone to plan. This ain’t exactly pushing any writers' limits but this is a nice group of characters and between Hiccup and those Dragons (especially Toothless - who I need a well designed toy of by the way Dreamworks) the less interesting townsfolk thread can be forgiven.

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

Book of Dragons


The so called second “Adventure” isn’t quite the second part to the double bill you might expect. It’s not a full TV episode length and runs just over 16 minutes and the first three or four of those is slightly too dark for their own good clips from How To Train Your Dragon. Then we have a short intro with Hiccup and his friends going to the great hall for a lesson about dragons and we cut to a 2D tale of when a viking met the first dragon, told with some Looney Toon style humour and honestly nothing all that entertaining. This second story feels much more like an extra feature as opposed to something new and is more a glamourised catch up to the franchise as opposed to the next step in the Dragons franchise.

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

Video


I own the Blu-ray of  How to Train Your Dragon and it about as perfect a presentation as Blu-ray comes. This DVD gives it a commendable shot but without that HD kick, it feels noticeably lacking. Colours are nice and bright and when we hit sunset and Hiccup takes to the sky with all the dragons the image is beautiful as is the closing scenes in the Great Hall full 'holiday seasoned' up with lighting but only within the standard definition boundaries. There’s no pop to this presentation, just hints at it. There’s a softness to everything even when those small textural details that leap off the screen in HD try to call attention to themselves on DVD. Sure kids will still lap up the cute dragons, bright colours and epic visuals but I’m also pretty sure those same kids getting this after seeing How To Train Your Dragon in HD will question where all the brightness went.

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

Audio


This Dolby Digital track is a little bit above average but doesn't really push any limits. The score sits softly behind the dialogue of the humans and the growls of the dragons. There's a good thump when things get smashed or dragons land and Hiccups voice overs are strong and clear. There's the odd bit of sweeping score that's effective but the two shorts fly by a bit too quickly to really have time to spread out scenes so this is few and far between really.

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

Extras


We start with a sneak peak of the How to Train Your Dragon 'Arena Spectacular' (01:00) live show from the creators of the Walking with Dinosaurs show. We only get glimpses of what's to come but it looks good.

The rest of the 'explosive features' are 'Gobblers Training Secrets' which is six lessons that are very short (short like 20 second short) about how to defeat dragons.

There are four deleted scenes all presented by director Tom Owens and  all unfinished animated storyboards.

There's a 'Spot the Difference' game, a 'Learn How to Draw a Baby Gronckle' featurette (03:55)a 'Dragon Lair' DVD-Rom extra and previews Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2. Also there's a section devoted to the 'World of Dreamworks Animation' which is two trailers for most of the other Dreamworks projects.

Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

Overall


This isn't a bad mini-outing for Hiccup and the adorable Toothless. Kids will lap it up but this whole "2 All-New Adventures' thing isn't quite true as the second shorter story is a an extra feature at best, whereas Gift of the Night Fury is a genuine little adventure with a holiday season twist. The disc looks and sounds good, there's a nice batch of kiddie aimed features and anyone who loved How To Train Your Dragon should get the same warm glow from this, even if it is on a much lesser scale.


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