By Jack Rico
How to Train Your Dragon is a moving, charismatic 3D animated film that is sure to draw smiles, wonderment and a few tears from most of you. The voices couldn’t have been better cast, the story’s family and friendship themes are on mark and the 3D flight experiences are to applaud. Kids are going to love this film and parents will too, but they’ll be doing most of the sobbing.
Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the action comedy tells the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. His father (Gerard Butler), expects him to become a leader just like him, but turmoil occurs when Hiccup encounters a speedy dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.
What this film has is heart, and that very characteristic emotion is what few films now a days can replicate. Cinematically, ‘Dragon’ is a joy to watch. The animation is solid and attractive and since it is in 3D, the imagery is the centerpiece of the experience. The high- resolution and detail to the animated craftsmanship is top notch. Pixar films might have better story lines, but the competition is catching up to its animation. This film must be seen in 3D theaters in order to truly enjoy the flying sequences, which is the calling card for the movie.
The delightful and pleasurable storytelling is neither forceful nor manufactured. It’s magic lies in the characters voices. The lead actors added a sense of humanness and authenticity to each of the characters; they sound like they look. Latin actress America Ferrera is modest in her role of Astrid, the adroit female teen viking. Her interludes with Hiccup are what romantic comedies are made of – boy meets girl he can’t get, then she surrenders to him because of his inner beauty. By far the best voice was Gerard Butler’s whose powerful barbarian tones gave the movie a balance of tension and drama.
By far, How to Train Your Dragon is one of the best animated films in the Dreamworks portfolio, though some might argue that ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is. Nevertheless, the balance between 3D action flying sequences, pleasant comedy, and compelling voice work by the actors, will make your decision much easier at the box office this weekend.
Rated: PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language
Release Date: March 26th, 2010
Screenplay: William Davies, Dean DeBlois
Director(s): Dean DeBlois
Distributor: DreamWorks Animation
Film Genre: Animation, Comedy