At the beginning of this review of How To Train Your Dragon I have to make it clear that I’ve always been interested in dragons and the expectation that this movie would feature many scenes of dragons soaring through the air was enough incentive to make me go to IMAX to watch it.
“How to Train Your Dragon” is a Dreamworks film, the same studio that brought you “Shrek”, “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda”.
Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, the action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, the scrawny teenage son of the Viking chieftain, who seems destined to fall short of his fathers hopes that he will follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and become a heroic dragon slayer.
A classic tale of the outsider defying the odds to become a hero, How To Train Your Dragon tells the tale of how Hiccup is initially mocked by his tribe but ends up successfully changing their belief that dragons are pests by revealing the true reason for constant dragon raids on Viking sheep herds.
The real star of the show is the facial expressions and puppy-like behaviour of the dragon “Toothless”. Toothless initially fears Hiccup because he trapped and injured the dragon with a net but then acts more like a Labrador puppy once he’s offered a few fish and sees that Hiccup is just as scared of him as he is of humans.
When I saw the initial movie trailer months ago I was unconvinced that his accent would work but Canadian Jay Baruchel is great as the squeaky teenage voice of Hiccup.
Baruchel, America Ferrera (who plays his love interest Astrid) and the other Viking teenagers all have North American accents which jars at times because all the adult characters inexplicably speak English with strong Scottish accents.
I watched the movie in IMAX and found it hard to give the visual effects a thumbs up or down because the giant wrap around IMAX screen was well suited to the flying scenes but the 3D effect was best during still or slow moving scenes.
During fast moving scenes I felt the 3D effect got quite blurry as if there aren’t enough frames/second to create a proper motion effect. I suspect that watching a 2D version of the movie at IMAX would have looked better overall.
How To Train Your Dragon opened in Australian cinemas including IMAX on March 25th. I watched it at IMAX with a media pass.
Other Reviews of How To Train Your Dragon
Well my doom-laden expectations were dashed because this is such a nice film, with a lovely message. Hiccup admits that he couldn’t kill the dragon because he saw he was as frightened as he was. It’s not so cutesy funny as other animated features, possibly because it was based on a book by Cressida Cowell, the story is everything.
There’s lots of action but there’s even more heart. And I must admit I like not being able to recognise the voices of the actors who voice the characters. George Clooney was a bit too present as Mr. Fox for me. I’m a bit over 3D, I’m not sure that the extra visuals compensate for wearing those glasses through a whole movie.
– Margaret Pomeranz on “At The Movies” (ABC TV)
If you’re an overgrown kid, and susceptible to the hypnotic effects of 3D computer-animated films, you’ll fall down the rabbit hole of this DreamWorks dragons and Vikings fantasy within five seconds. The animation is staggering. The look of the Vikings’ coastal village, lined by massive rock formations that jut out from the sea, is sublime, while the fantastical dragons that terrorise the townsfolk have been unleashed from wildly fertile imaginations.
– Annette Basile for Filmink
“How to Train Your Dragon” plays more like a game born to inspire a movie. It devotes a great deal of time to aerial battles between tamed dragons and evil ones, and not much to character or story development
Note: The movie is being shown in both 3-D and 2-D. The 3-D adds nothing but the opportunity to pay more to see a distracting and unnecessary additional dimension. Paramount has threatened theaters that if they don’t clear screens for “Dragon” despite the current glut of 3-D films, the studio won’t let them show it in 2-D. This displays real confidence in 3-D.
– Roger Ebert for Chicago Sun Times