Wednesday, 12 January 2011

How to Train Your Dragon

Lowdown: A misfit Viking boy befriends the enemy – a dragon.
How to Train Your Dragon might have been a bit more scary than we would have liked our three year old to endure, but it was still successful family night viewing. Perhaps it’s the computer animation that makes us automatically think a film is toddler friendly.
Taking place in a fantasy world, on a remote island populated by rough and tough Vikings, How to Train Your Dragon follows a boy called Hiccup. Hiccup is an exception to the rule, the only Viking around who is not big and tough, and that’s despite being the son of the mightiest boss Viking around (voiced by Gerard Butler, who like all other adult Vikings in the film displays a very Scottish accent). Island life is pretty boring but also quite unsafe: the island is under frequent attacks from all sorts of dragons who steal and pilfer, “forcing” the community to focus on becoming brute warriors whose main aim in life is to unconditionally kill as many dragons as possible.
Hiccup, being Hiccup, is again the exception, too much of a weakling to mess with dangerous dragons face to face. He builds his own harpoon like device, and in the chaos of a dragon attack fires it at the sky… and hits a dragon! That dragon, of the mightiest dragon breed around, is injured. Yet Hiccup cannot bring himself to kill it; instead he starts caring for the dragon to help it recover. And guess what? They become friends, a friendship that has an effect on Hiccup’s achievements in dragon fighting school and a friendship that could have a life changing effect on the entire Viking way of life.
How to Train Your Dragon is a nice and easy watch. Probably too easy, being a film that follows the typical formula to the letter and suffers from typical predictability problems. While offering what my eyes deemed as cruder and rougher animation to Pixar’s lot, How to Train Your Dragon (a DreamWorks production) does not hesitate to apply the tradition of most computer animation kids’ films and is generous with features that are not that relevant but are “just so nice”, like dragons who are more like bumblebees and references to contemporary culture. Yet despite the simplistic plot and the uninteresting characters, How to Train Your Dragon does carry a nice message regarding the need to understand the other before you judge them; if a decent proportion of the kids watching the film take that message home then so be it.
Best scene: It’s quite hard for me to think a scene that stood up. But hey, did you see those cute buzzing bumblebee like dragons?
Technical assessment: In typical computer animation style, the 2D picture on this Blu-ray is excellent (the film had a 3D release at the cinemas). The sound, however, is too uninspiring for my taste; a case of an alright soundtrack yet unfulfilled potential for a film that does deal with subject matter like dragon flight.
I guess I’ll be generous and give this one 3 stars, but here’s your disclaimer – don’t expect as much depth and adult appeal as your average Pixar film here. Better yet, I’ll give this film the 2.5 out of 5 stars it deserves, and add that you should expect your kids to like it despite its mediocrity.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that dragons deserve more.

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