Saturday, 3 April 2010

How To Train Your Dragon - Review

Most people probably find this irritating but it has to be one of life's more innocent moments when watching a family movie in the cinema and one of the children in the audience like to contribute a running commentary to how the events unfold, which you usually find is more blunt and brutal than a critic could ever be. Perhaps none more hilarious was sitting through this film and hear a child shout in an unintentionally dry manner, "He's dead". Brilliant.

Based on a series of children's books by Cressida Cowell, How To Train Your Dragon tells the story of a young Viking teenager named Hiccup aspires to follow his tribe's tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon, and with his chance at finally gaining the tribe's acceptance, he finds that he no longer has the desire to kill it and instead befriends it.

Since their mega hit Shrek, DreamWorks have unfortunately had a tough time of competing with that other studio, Pixar, though making entertaining movies such as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and Monsters Vs Aliens they have lacked the consistency of their main rivals making awful features such as Bee Movie, Flushed Away and Madagascar 2. Their latest film How To Train Your Dragon thankfully does not fall into the latter category.

The overall feel of this film was absolutely spellbinding, with some genuinely epic moments that would give the likes of Avatar and Lord of the Rings a decent run for their money, perhaps this was amplified by the wonderful Celtic score from John Powell (and for more Nordic vibes, Jonsi was shoved in at the end also). A brilliantly realised script which was both kiddy friendly - barely any dragons were actually harmed during the making of this feature - and made the trip reasonably enjoyable for the parents, which is the true measure of any family film.

What I think the directors captured beautifully was the heartwarming connection between the hero - Hiccup - and his dragon - Toothless, almost reminiscent of Henry Thomas' Elliot and ET. It was enough to bring the sternest of souls to smile. The animation was magnificent, and trust me Clash of the Titan's Kraken is not nearly as impressive as the horrible beast featured in this film's finale.

The voice acting was another highlight with Jay Baruchel's dead pan demeanour stealing the show and lent to the older members in the audience tastes while his slapstick banter with the dragon was also amusing. Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson were at their Scottish best conjuring scenes that could have easily been lifted from the long running newspaper comic Hagar the Horrible.

Final Thoughts
Smart script, hilarious scenes and heartfelt moments all combined together with beautiful animation, what more could you ask for? I loved this film way more than I was expecting, and could not recommend it enough for parents out there stuck for ideas to keep their children entertained over the Easter holidays. Though whether it will stand the test of time like some of Pixar and Disney's best is another matter altogether.


See This If You Liked...
Dragonheart, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Asterix


Ronan said...

Andrew, I really hope this does stand the test of time, I think it has a good chance of sticking around. I had even more fun watching this than I did with Shrek.

Dreamworks' best yet I think.

rtm said...

I didn't mention this in my review but you're right it does feel epic. I agree this is perhaps Dreamworks' best but I hope it doesn't go downhill the way Shrek was with every single sequel they make.