DVD REVIEW: Dragons - Riders of Berk Vol 1 & 2
20 Episodes of Dreamworks' Dragon TV Series Hit Home Video...
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If you and your family enjoyed Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon as much as me and my family, you'll no doubt love the latest TV on DVD release from 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks, Dragons - Riders of Berk Vol 1 & 2. Featuring 20 episodes across the two-disc set, the entire first season features all of your favorite characters and their dragon companions as they work to establish peace among the people of Berk and the dragons who now inhabit the land.
The first season focuses on Hiccup, the star of the film, and his crew of teenage friends who each have their own dragon companion. Hiccup and his companion Night Fury dragon, Toothless, work together with other Berk residences in order to establish - at the suggestion of Hiccup's father and tribe chief, Stoick the Vast - the Berk Dragon Academy. With Hiccup and Toothless set to teach other dragon riders and their companions how to behave, the school soon faces adversity in the form of those disgruntled members of the community who would rather see dragons dead than with riders on their back. Enter these new dragon doubters, Mildew and Alvin the Treacherous, and you've got a great new company of characters, some emotional conflicts and a whole lot of fun.
For those who are weary of movie spin-offs hitting TV, be assured; Dragons - Riders of Berk retains the film's amazing production value, hilarious comedy and engaging character development made famous by the original theatrical release. The show, while somewhat slow to introduce conflict, hits its stride with Episode 5: In Dragons We Trust and Episode 6: Alvin and the Outcasts and does an outstanding job of building on the previously established characters' individual strengths and weaknesses as well as establishing new villains and antagonists with Mildew, Alvin, and the Outcast Tribe members. This sets up an on-going conflict for the people of Berk to struggle to overcome as well as provides a basis for the second season, premiering on September 20, 2013.
The DVD features the show's impressive animation in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In standard definition, each DVD brings to life the episodes as originally seen on their original air dates between August 7, 2012 and March 20, 2013. Likewise, each episode features a solid audio track with talented voice acting - including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Julie Marcus, T.J. Miller and introducing Stephen Root as Mildew and Mark Hamill as Alvin the Treacherous. The sound effects - from dragons in flight and fires burning bright to hilarious laughter and panicked shouting and commotion - comes to life here in this English Dolby Digital 5.1.
Each DVD volume also includes a number of special features. This starts with an insert in each which unlocks the "Ultimate Battle Pack" for the Dreamworks' School of Dragons online game, downloadable at www.schoolofdragons.com. Both DVDs include a number of video special features too, including Dragon Tracker Part 1 & Part 2, The Evolution of Thunderdrum and The Evolution of Whispering Death, "Heavy Metal" Dragon Mash-Up and "Fly High" Dragon Mash-Up and a look at other Dreamworks' animation.
Overall, if you're a fan of the original How to Train Your Dragon and want to get more of Hiccup, Toothless and the other fan-favorite Vikings and dragons, you can't go wrong with Dragons - Riders of Berk Vol 1 & 2. Each episode does a great job of exploring relative problems for today's families set in the fantastical land of Berk. Fun for all ages, this is one show Dreamworks' fans won't want to miss. And don't forget, season 2 - Dragons - Defenders of Berk - starts on September 10, 2013.
Dragons - Riders of Berk Vol 1 & 2 are available now on DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley