Sure, it’s ostensibly a kids’ film, but there is something wonderfully endearing about this latest DreamWorks animation. Yes, it’s in the new-fangled 3D. Yes, it is derivative of old favourites like E.T. and The Never Ending Story. And yes, the big, burly Norse Vikings inexplicably have Scottish accents, while the younger kids tout American drawls and emo haircuts (cue: tie-in merchandise). But somehow all these elements still add up to an entertaining and entirely winning film.
In a Viking village that is constantly overrun by scavenging dragons, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is your typical awkward teenager. Weedy but wry, he is desperate to prove himself worthy to be his dragon slayer and Viking chief father’s son (Gerard Butler). That is until he wings and then befriends a stealthy Night Fury dragon, whom he names Toothless, and realises that man and beast need not be mortal enemies after all.
Great characters, a snappy script and some dazzling aerial animation do much to elevate this film from your standard kids’ fare. Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders are the team behind Lilo & Stitch, and bring much of the same irreverence to Cressida Cowell’s story of Hiccup and Toothless, as well as refreshingly downplaying the now ubiquitous overlay of adult irony.
Fun, feisty and gorgeously animated, How to Train Your Dragon is well worth shelling out the extra dosh for the 3D specs. And, despite the subject matter, this film’s appeal really isn’t limited to kids … or Dungeons & Dragons fans.
Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 25 March 2010