Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

April 16, 2010

Breathes fire

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:25 am

April 16, 2010

Cast: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson

Director: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois

One of those rare films that kids and adults will enjoy equally, How To Train Your Dragon marries gorgeous, imaginative animation with a familiar story that is nevertheless inspiring.

Our hero, a nerdy young Viking boy named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is a disappointment to his fearless, butch father, Stoick the Vast (voiced by Gerard Butler), who’s leader of his tribe. When their island is attacked by dragons, Hiccup takes down one of the beasts with a catapult, but can’t bring himself to kill it. Instead he turns it into a pet, and discovers in the process that dragons aren’t the vicious creatures they’re believed to be, but warm and affectionate unless attacked.

A far more fulfilling 3D experience than Clash of the Titans or Alice in Wonderland, this film utilizes the extra dimension wisely, giving us a handful of exhilarating flying sequences that are hard to get out of your head. The colors are rich and the visuals are striking, and the 3D appears to be integrated into the film rather than just pasted on.

At the core of this film is the friendship between Hiccup and his black dragon friend Toothless; and it’s in the development of their bond that we get some of the film’s most jaw-dropping scenes — like the first flight Hiccup takes on Toothless’ back, or even the climatic action sequence in the grey skies.

For what it’s worth, the film shatters conventional clichés about masculinity, and is littered with messages about friendship and parental pride. The subtext here is fairly standard stuff; but it’s a film worth watching anyway for the sheer energy and enthusiasm that’s up there on the screen.

I’m going with three out of five for How To Train Your Dragon; watch it in 3D to enjoy the full impact of those stunning airborne scenes. The most enjoyable animation film since Pixar’s Up — just not quite as witty.

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