How to Train Your Dragon (PG)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner01/04/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Beautifully animated and superbly written, this is a hugely entertaining, frequently funny and emotionally engaging adventure with thrilling action sequences and a terrific voice cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, How to Train Your Dragon is based on the children's book by Cressida Cowell and is set on the island of Berk, where the Viking inhabitants have all become dragon slayers in order to fend off frequent dragon attacks. However, nerdy teenage Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is something of a disaster in the dragon slaying department, so his Viking Chief father Stoick (Gerard Butler) forces him to attend dragon fighting classes run by Gobber (Craig Ferguson).

However, when one of Hiccup's inventions brings down a feared Night Fury dragon, Hiccup befriends it, naming it Toothless, and soon discovers that there's more to dragons than he had assumed. Soon, Hiccup is using his new-found dragon knowledge to impress his classmates, particularly girl-of-his-dreams Astrid (America Ferrera), who's Gobber's top student. But can he keep Toothless a secret?

The Good
The voice cast are terrific, even if it's a little bit grating that all the adults speak with Scottish accents while all the kids are American. Jay Baruchel is superb as Hiccup and delivers some very funny line readings (“Duh duh-duh, we're dead!”), while Ferrera is feisty and appealing as Astrid and there's strong comic support from the likes of Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Hiccup's classmates.

The script is excellent, combining witty dialogue and an emotionally engaging plot with a surprisingly sophisticated message about the need for understanding and communication. In addition, the film is wonderfully animated with colourful dragon designs (Toothless looks a lot like Stitch from Lilo & Stitch) and some truly beautiful, genuinely thrilling flying sequences, all of which are heightened by some of the best 3D work seen to date.

The Great
On top of that, the film builds to a terrifically exciting climax with 3D dragon flying sequences that, frankly, put Avatar to shame.

Worth seeing?
How to Train Your Dragon is a hugely enjoyable, emotionally engaging and frequently funny adventure that's enormous fun for both adults and children alike. It's also easily Dreamworks' best animated feature to date. Highly recommended.
How To Train Your Dragon Gala

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Content updated: 24/07/2012 02:16

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