ADS 468x60

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Review: How To Train Your Dragon (PG) ★★★★
A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.

Dreamworks really have a tough gig. Each year or so they turn out really good, solid animated features only to be blown away every time by Pixar.
They're obviously not alone in this pursuit to catch the masters up but they are the ones who seem to be closing in the quickest and How To Train Your Dragon is their best product to date.

The common trend with animation at the moment is trying to find a blend for kids and adult. Pixar are the masters at this mixing cute characters with sharp, witty dialogue and precise story telling. Clever enough for kids and smart enough for adults I think would describe it best. How To Train Your Dragin is pitch perfect in this respect.

The start of the movie is breathtaking and frenetic. Dragons appearing out of the night, attacking a small Viking village causing mayhem and carnage. This really is the start of the film, we have no setup we're straight into the action which works great. During all this mayhem we're introduced to our hero, the rather meek and wimpy Hiccup. He's a slightly out of place Viking trying to force recognition from his father who has written him off as a lost cause. This relationship arcs throughout the film and the chemistry between them is great.

In one of Hiccups many, mainly failed, attempts to impress his father he accidentally shoots down one of the mythical Night Furies and sets out to find his prize and earn the respect of his village. What he finds instead is a helpless wounded creature and finds that he just doesn't have the Viking ferocity and fondness of killing in him. Instead he opts to set the beast free and from here we have our central relationship.

Hiccup and Toothless, yes that's what he decides to call the beast, start to gain mutual respect for one another and become best friends. Meanwhile, back at his village, Hiccup is enrolled into Dragon slaying school but soon learns, through his relationship with Toothless, that Dragon's can be tamed and stopped by other means than killing such as tickling one underneath their mouth, or by rubbing them with grass. This sequence is played out very well indeed as I could see this being the stumbling point of the film if they'd gotten it wrong but it does work. Hiccup then ascends to head of the class but soon starts to raise eyebrows among his fellow pupils.

Further along we find out that there is much more to the Dragons that meets the eye and when Hiccups friendship with Toothless is found out (you know its coming) its then onto a hugely impressive final set piece where the Dragons and Vikings have to unite against a common enemy.

As cheesy as it sounds the whole thing is a success. From the amazing detail in the animation (I wonder if the Dragons were meant to look like cats?) to the cast and story, this brings out a beauty in storytelling that Pixar and now Dreamworks seem to be excelling at.

I'd recommend this to anyone with kids but also for anybody who's looking for a good, old fashioned feel good film. You won't be disappointed.


Post a Comment