How To Train Your Dragon Review: Flaming Good

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (PG): On General Release From 31st March

Going up against animation giants like Disney and Pixar can’t be easy, but DreamWorks Animation keep plugging away. More often than not, their movies aren’t up to snuff animation-wise (Shark Tale anyone?) but it looks as if they’ve actually found some animators that can actually earn their paychecks.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a pathetic teenage Viking living on the little island of Berk which happens to be plagued by a variety of dragons. He somehow manages to shoot down one of the most deadly beasts in the air – the dreaded Night Fury and strikes up an unusual friendship with the creature. It turns out the dragon, dubbed Toothless, is more of a pet than a predator.

Stoick the Vast, the big bearded village leader and Hiccup’s father, goes on a mission to find the island of the beasts, leaving Hiccup at dragon training school. The classes pit him against the other village teens including the beautiful but deadly Astrid (America Ferrera). Hiccup soon goes from zero to hero with a little help from Toothless but trouble erupts when his friendship with the dragon is exposed and there are deadly repercussions for the entire village.

How To Train Your Dragon is an amazing example of animated textures and elements; Vikings with gigantic beards, fur pelts, waves, fire and smoke are all done to perfection.

James Cameron should watch this movie too as the flight scenes are more enjoyable than anything Avatar had to offer. The 3D element works nicely without being too disorienting though it’ll definitely look better at IMAX (doesn’t everything?).

The character design is wonderful and each one, dragon and human alike, has its own unique quality. Toothless is a particular highlight using animalistic qualities from dogs, cats and reptiles and his animation conveys a silent comedy charm. Jay Baruchel is the perfect fit for Hiccup; his unusual tone isn’t over exposed in the media so it’s never a distraction and Gerard Butler manages to tug on the heartstrings as disappointed father Stoick.

I’m surprised to see how light on laughs the film is and it’s also lacking in ‘lovability’ which might leave kids a bit cold; it’s not as fluffy as Toy Story 3 looks set to be.

How To Train Your Dragon is a well crafted movie that will be liked by viewers of all ages but could unfortunately be overlooked by the time awards season rolls around. Though it may not be bouncing up and down on your funny bone every two seconds, it’s a real gem and it would be a shame if it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. DreamWorks may not be ready to topple Pixar, they certainly look like they’re ready to take animation seriously.


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