ReviewWriter: Lai Swee WeiWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Monsters vs. Aliens”, "Eragon", "Dragonheart"
It was nearly six years ago when the 2003 book series of "How To Train Your Dragon" by British author Cressida Cowell came to the attention of DreamWorks Animation. And through the hard years of development, it proved to be worth every blood, sweat and tears!
Marking as their second InTru 3D Movie after "Monsters vs. Aliens", it showcased real action-adventure with great characters, making it a surprisingly thrilling animation despite the drab trailer. From the "Lilo and Stitch" directors, we are taken to the island of Berk in Scotland, where the rite of passage for every Viking is to go out and kill a dragon - definitely an occupational hazard. Our hero is a scrawny kid named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who tries to slay dragons whenever these 'pests' raid their village, but always ends up disliked by his tribe and chief, Hiccup's father, Stoick the Vast (perfectly voiced by the growling Gerard Butler) as he never fails to screw up.
One day, he stumbles across a Night Fury, a black creature and the rarest of all dragons, in which he successfully caught using a bolas-shooting cannon the night before. From there, we see a dragon turned from pest to pet, named Toothless. While taking care of it, Hiccup goes through Dragon Training with the other viking teens - Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (T.J. Miller) - and amazing tricks take place as he learns a thing or two on how to train a dragon.
In Cressida Cowell's original book, the dragons could speak and had their own language. However, animators removed that feature wanting them to be more animal-like with nonverbal communications, which in turn pulled off great facial expression to exude different personalities within each dragon. Somehow, you can't help but to want a dragon of your own when seeing how adorable they are. We are also given an idea of how extensive these creatures are when Hiccup leafs through the Dragon Handbook, where literally page after page is filled with a myriad of dragons. Needless to say, the animation is remarkably detailed and the sceneries are breathtaking, especially during the dragon's lair.
From the start, the film has always been envisioned as a 3D movie and proves just that as we are given the feeling that we are with Hiccup, at his side and on his dragon. The best part was particularly during high-flying dragon rides.
Hiccup is a great lead character who has an offbeat sense of humour, which thankfully instead of seeking his dad's attention or the town's acceptance, he toughens himself up and creates a sense of comedy as a means of defence. Apart from that, the adults actors are oddly enough the ones with thick Scottish accents, while the teens keep to their American slang.
Overall, the movie has got adventure, humour and heart. You won't want to miss this.Cinema Online, 16 March 2010