Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Paramount Pictures
Now Showing

It's not easy being the son of the chief of a Viking village, especially when dad, Stoick the Vast (voiced by Gerard Butler in full Scottish brogue), is a giant of a man and hero to all, and you are, well, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), an accident prone weed of a boy whose dreams of being a dragon slayer are, at best, of the pipe variety.

Dragons are the bane of Hiccup's village on the Isle of Berk, stealing their livestock and damaging their homes in the process. It is during the most recent attack which opens the film, that Hiccup brings down the elusive and hitherto unseen Night Fury dragon. No one believes him, of course, so Hiccup sets out into the forest and discovers he has indeed brought down the reptile.

But unable to bring himself to kill the creature, his dismay is soon eclipsed by the amazement of discovering that the dragon, which was injured and cannot fly, can be befriended and trained, if not completely tamed. These scenes of tentative friendship are wonderfully played, with Toothless, the name Hiccup bestows on the Night Fury, resembling a giant puppy who doesn't entirely trust his new master.

Hiccup and Toothless are soon flying over the oceans and forests thanks to a contraption of Hiccup's design, and while not a fan of 3D, I will admit that the flying scenes in How To Train Your Dragon are quite impressive and perfectly utilized. And at the risk of incurring the wrath of nerds and geeks everywhere, they are almost the equal of those in Avatar.

All of this dragon training is carried out clandestinely while Hiccup also attends dragon slaying training, employing his new found knowledge of the giant reptiles to impress his teacher. But he also manages to annoy fellow student, and secret crush, Astrid (Ugly Betty's America Ferrera), the blonde beauty who possesses the warrior spirit Hiccup sorely lacks.

That Astrid, Stoick and the rest of the Isle of Berk will be won over by Hiccup and Toothless by film's end is a given but How To Train Your Dragon is no less enjoyable for that, and a flight of fancy worth taking these school holidays.

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