HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON - A Family Treat
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (animated adventure)
Cast: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrara, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller
Directors: Lorna Cook and David Soren
Screenplay: William Davies from the books by Cressida Cowell
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: It's the school holidays and this should be a welcome entry to the cinema fare for both the kids and their parents. Based on British author Cressida Cowell’s bestseller, How To Train Your Dragon is another fun and thrilling 3D adventure from Dreamworks, directed by the folks who gave us Lilo & Stitch.
THE SKINNY: Set in the mythical isle of Berk, this is about the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Jay Baruchel), the 11-year-old son of a Viking chieftain (Gerard Butler as Stoik), who must kill a dragon as a rite of passage. A group of 10 youths of the Hooligan tribe, are being led to perform their first military operation - to catch their own dragon. Those who are not able to catch and train a dragon are exiled from the tribe. This military operation has to be done by every Hooligan as a test known as The Dragon Initiation Programme.
Hiccup's world is turned upside down when he encounters a 'Night Fury' dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the dragons from an entirely different point of view.
HITS & MISSES: In many ways, this one has the same plot as Lilo & Stitch: A child adopts and then tames a lethal creature - and learns a whole deal about life from it. I particularly like the graphics of the ancient world of the Norsemen rendered spectacularly in 3D. There are also standard issue subplots that the young people can relate with - like Hiccup trying to win over his dad and gutsy tomboy Astrid (America Ferrera) while trying not embarrassing himself in front of other Viking teens. There is also an interesting lesson about aerodynamics involving a dragon's tail.
The cast are commendable too, with Baruchel turning on a suitably sympathetic role, and Ferrera rendering youthful charm and solid support. Anyway, those exhilarating high-flying dragon rides and battles - accompanied by a rousing music score by John Powell - are value enough for the price of the ticket.
THE LOWDOWN: The top choice for this school holiday period.