Saturday, 16 October 2010

How To Train Your Dragon Film Review

I wasn't particularly interested in this film to begin with, but after hearing that America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) would be providing the voice for one of the lead characters, it piqued my interest. Having also received 98% positive ratings on Rotten tomatoes, it seems like there's no reason NOT to watch this film!

Young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has always wanted the adventurous aspect of the Viking identity of slaying dragons, but is made by his father, Stoik (Gerald Butler) to help in his workshop and produce weapons instead of going on the front line. Looking stick thin compared to his bulky elders, Hiccup also has self-confidence issues, hiding his crush on Astrid (America Ferrera).

During one night, the dragons attack their village of Berk, and the elusive dragon, Night Fury, also strikes- a dragon noone has captured or killed before due to its invisibility. Hiccup, having an aspiration to be the first to slay this dragon, runs out with a cannon, aims and fires, successfully taking down the dragon. Curious but scared, Hiccup finds the dragon but is unable to kill it and instead releases it. 

Whilst Hiccup's father Stoik is out on a voyage, Hiccup is enrolled into a dragon slaying training, but he sneaks out to visit the Night Fury, as a clipped tail feather meant it couldn't fly away. Conquering fear, Hiccup manages to befriend this dragon he named Toothless and aids it to health by producing an artificial strap on tail feather and together, they train to regain Toothless flying ability.

With his new found friend, Hiccup must convince his father and the townspeople that dragons can be friends and tamed to their advantage, as an even bigger, even scarier dragon lurks nearby.

From the start of the film, we are plunged into the dragon attack scene which is fast paced and exciting. I was slightly annoyed by the accents to begin with, but that eased out as the film progressed. I was surprised how long it took for Hiccup to actually befriend Toothless (misleading trailer) and by the time they conquered flight, we were already halfway through the movie.

I have to say that the dragon slaying sections or the general Viking town sections of the movie bored me to death and this film is only rescued by the relationship of Hiccup and Toothless. There is a deep and meaningful relationship here and the animation for the pair is fantastic. In this way, I'm glad they prolonged their bonding and learning of each other.

Whilst it is interesting that the dragons' body shape and character resemble the humans, they are all pretty ugly and not of an impressive, scary kind. It was all rather silly and like something created from Spore. The only likeable dragon is Toothless, which I can say is the cutest creature of the year. The Despicable Me alien thingees are pure annoying.

The ending and final showdown was rather predictable and as always, you know the lead characters will not die. However, what happened to Hiccup REALLY shocked me and I'm surprised it was included in this film. We know Pixar tug at peoples' heartstrings, but who knew Dreamworks could reciprocate? The way they also turned this negative result into a hopeful and positive perspective is to be praised.

This is definitely a contender to Disney Pixar. They have a strong if predictable storyline, some funny lines, an immensely cute creature, beautiful aesthetics during the flying scene (which reminded me of the courting scene in Wall-E) and a shocking, heart wrenching ending that sheds hope to all. Watch Out! This is a strong contender for the Academy Awards.

Hiccup- Jay Baruchel
Astrid- America Ferrera
Stoik- Gerard Butler

Other voices include Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig.

Jay Baruchel's voice is almost perfect for this character whilst America Fererra and Gerard Butler's voices synched really well and you almost couldn't tell it was them unless told. 

Despite some boring and unappealing Viking parts, the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless shines through and teamed with great visuals and a moving ending, makes this film wholly enjoyable. Now where can I get a big Toothless soft toy? Finally, a worthy rival to Disney Pixar.

Let's just hope the sequel will not let us down, eh!?

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