How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon

****

Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

Animation powerhouse Dreamworks – creators of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda – present this family-friendly adventure about a puny young Viking who becomes the unlikely master of a dragon.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) lives with his father Stoick the Great (Gerard Butler), fearless chief of the Viking clan, in a mountain village under regular attack from ferocious dragons. Disaster-prone Hiccup longs to be a fearsome, respected dragon slayer like his dad but has a habit of causing more destruction than the fire-breathers so it relegated to apprentice blacksmith. Eventually, his wary parent agrees to let his weedy son train – but when he actually manages to capture a dragon, he cannot kill it. Hiccup befriends the creature, Toothless, and soon learns there is much more to dragons than he – or any of his clan – thought.

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How To Train Your Dragon is beautifully written, animated and executed. The visuals are stunning and the 3D is immersive, not gratuitous like Bolt or Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.

The collection of colourful dragons switch seamlessly between terrifying and adorable and the detail in the animation is exquisite – every bright scale, tooth and flame is realistic. Scenes of Hiccup soaring over the landscape on his dragon steed are breathtaking – the ocean and rugged mountains are some of the most realistic CGI yet.

An exciting and action-packed finale will also have you on the edge of your seat and mesmerised by the rich animation. The talented voice cast fleshes out the human characters and all have perfect comic timing. Gerard Butler shows he still has a Scottish accent – despite shunning it for an Americanised twang in real-life – but the best lines go to Craig Ferguson’s Gobber, who trains the young dragon slayers. This one-legged, one-armed Viking throws the teens into a ring with the beasts as part of his “hands-on” approach to education, with hilarious and scary results.

Director Dean DeBlois — who wrote and directed Disney’s Lilo And Stitch – combines fantasy, adventure, action and lots of humour for all ages. The story also breathes new life into the clichéd plots of not judging a book by its cover and a young boy’s struggle to connect with his father. The relationships between the characters – both father and son and human and dragon – are developed and well-thought out without being too sappy.

Dreamworks’ finest offering since Shrek, this dragon adventure will slay audiences of all ages.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2010
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A young viking becomes an unlikely dragon master.
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Read more How to Train Your Dragon reviews:

Anton Bitel ***1/2

Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders

Writer: Cressida Cowell, Dean DeBlois, Adam F Goldberg, Chris Sanders, Peter Tolan

Starring: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, TJ Miller

Year: 2010

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

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Kung Fu Panda
Lilo & Stitch
Shrek