Film Review with Robert Mann – How to Train Your Dragon


How to Train Your Dragon 3D ****½
How to Train Your Dragon 2D ****

Following a quiet 2009 for DreamWorks Animation, with only Monsters Vs Aliens being released in cinemas, 2010 is set to be a mega year for the animation studio with three new CG animated features being unleashed onto cinema screens in both two and three dimensions in the form of July’s Shrek Forever After, November’s Megamind and this week’s How to Train Your Dragon. Unlike many DreamWorks Animation creations, however, their latest effort is not an original idea for once but rather based on pre-existing source material in the form of the book of the same name by Cressida Cowell, which is part of a series following the adventures of young Viking character Hiccup. Speculation is that the film isn’t an entirely faithful adaptation of the source material but on its own terms does it at least live up to the standards of other DreamWorks movies, particularly their fantastic first foray into the 3D format from last year?

Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is a Viking teenager who lives on the island of Berk, where strength and prowess in battle are everything and fighting dragons is a way of life. But hapless Hiccup doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s longstanding traditions. He pines for the affections of Astrid (voiced by America Ferrerra) and longs to join his fellow Vikings in their war against the dragons but his wimpiness and clumsiness only ever get him into trouble, so he is set aside working as an apprentice to Gobber (voiced by Craig Ferguson). The time of initiation is coming, and this is Hiccup’s one chance to prove his worthiness to his tribe and father Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler). But when he encounters and befriends an injured dragon, whom he names Toothless, Hiccup’s world is turned upside down. His unexpected friendship with a dragon challenges him – and his fellow Vikings – to see the world from an entirely different point of view.



Anyone who goes into this film expecting a how to guide on training dragons will be disappointed but anyone who wants to see a fun, action packed family animated adventure will find that How to Train Your Dragon is a film that has much to offer. For starters, the animation is up there with the best work that DreamWorks has done, combining breathtakingly beautiful, and pretty realistic looking, animated landscapes with well realized dragons that come in varieties both scary and cute – the dragon at the centre of the story being particularly adorable. The film also boasts plenty of exciting dragon filled action sequences, spectacular flying scenes and, if seen in 3D, some extremely stunning 3D effects work. Made to be shown in 3D from the start, not converted to 3D in post production like some films, you really can tell that this is the case, in the excellent application of three dimensions, with everything from simple shots – one underwater shot really pops out – to the action sequences gaining massively from the extra dimension, providing you with a first hand experience of events that really do seem like they are happening right in front of you. If you don’t get to see it in 3D, though, don’t fret as the animation is still pretty spectacular even in 2D and the other aspects of the film are not influenced in any way by the added dimension. The story is pretty heartwarming either way and carries a nice message, the dialogue and humour are pretty sharp and quite funny, if not the best that DreamWorks has done and the vocal performances are, as you would expect, excellent with everyone doing a good job at giving their characters distinct personalities. Obviously, the accents are not authentic but who cares? Other vocal performers include Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Robin Atkin Downes, Philip McGrade, Kieron Elliott and Ashley Jensen. Overall, How to Train Your Dragon isn’t quite DreamWorks Animation’s best film, falling behind last year’s superior effort, but it definitely falls amongst their finest films with this tale of dragons turning from being pests into pets proving to be a rollercoaster ride of a movie that will be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike.

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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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