As many of you were fearing, we all thought after the...."interesting" short that was "Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon" last year that hope for the HTTYD franchise being up to par with the movie was very slim, and it was...but somehow out of all those odds, Dreamworks managed to release a short with so much depth you literally drown in the ocean of emotions it overwhelms you in...and a holiday short, nonetheless.
"Gift of the Night Fury" is certainly a "gift" to all the fans who are really looking for something that matches the emotional depth of the movie, and in some cases (dare I say) the level of mature character development in this short exceeded the movie. It manages to cram more emotion in 22 minutes than most movies can in 2 hours, which says a whole lot.
This could've easily been another silly short with slapstick comedy, sassy one-liners, and clichéd morals about holiday nonsense, but even though "Gift of the Night Fury" was a holiday short, it really does more to bridge the gap between the movie and ultimately the TV show with the holiday theme as more of an undertone to everything else going on.
The character development, as mentioned before, was where this story really shined. Everyone was so in character and the interactions between everyone was believable, easy, and lovable. Who mostly stood out, though, was of course Hiccup and Toothless's bond (honestly, one of the best friendships for animated characters in general) it really showed how much closer these two are becoming and gives promises that everything you see is 100% genuine. But, surprisingly enough, even Hiccup's relationship with his new girlfriend Astrid was a nice and easy addition to the mix of things as well. I really applaud shows that have the guts to have two people openly date since most animated TV shows (or just TV shows in general) always focus on getting two characters together rather than what happens afterwards. Hiccup and Astrid's interactions were so wonderful and you can really feel the chemistry and strong yet relaxed feelings of comfort and warmth between these two (ah, young love).
The addition of baby dragons was handled very carefully as well, and it did it's job to make you go "awww" when you were supposed to as well as giving the Vikings and Dragons one more thing to bond over. I love how this short shows how attached the Vikings already are to their dragons and this is definitely shown in the ending.
Even the animation quality was up to speed with the movie. You could tell it wasn't the same scoop as the movie--probably due to a budget cut and time issues--but it had the same level of detail to surroundings and careful attention to movement as the movie did.
Honestly, in my opinion this short pulled out all the stops and went above and beyond the call of duty to create a heartwarming story with all the assets of the movie that we know and love as well as throwing in some new ones that only made us love Hicucp, Toothless, Astrid, and all the other Vikings and Dragons on Berk even more.
I'd give it a 12 out of 10 if I could...yes, it's THAT good. And if anyone is a fan of the movie and simply fears franchise expansion, don't be afraid to watch "Gift of the Night Fury" it's a wonderful second chapter to the HTTYD story.