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How to Train Your Dragon

Film Four Stars
I rather reluctantly decided to go and see How to Train Your Dragon, oh excuse me, it's How to Train Your Dragon 3D. Yes, I know, Filmstalker going to see a film in 3D that's also a kids film, that sounds incredible, what prompted that? Well the arrival of his father and his two nephews did, it was that or bowling.

You know what? I'm so glad I didn't go bowling for How to Train Your Dragon 3D (do I have to keep calling it that?) turned out to be a really enjoyable and entertaining film, although to be fair there was no reason at all for it to be in 3D.

TrainYourDragon.jpgHow to Train Your Dragon, whether it's in 3D or not, is set on an island that the legendary Vikings have chosen to inhabit, an island where they have to struggle to survive, complicated by the fact that a nearby colony of Dragons are regularly attacking them and their homes, trying to steal their food and livestock. So the Vikings do battle with the dragons and the dragons do battle with the Vikings.

The Vikings are led by Stoick, played by Gerard Butler, who is forever defending the people, leading attacks on the dragons, and worrying about their future. His wife is dead and he is left with one son, one scrawny, undersized and underachieving son. For he prefers to invent cool new weapons and gadgets than fight the Dragons. However he knows he has to, and the constant ribbing he receives from the other Vikings is soul destroying.

So he sets out to catch one of the most feared dragons, the Night Fury. It's feared because it's deadly, silent and almost invisible to the naked eye, but using his latest experiment he manages to wing one and send it crash landing into the countryside.

After his latest claims that his machine has worked and he's downed one of the Night Fury's is dismissed, he decides to head off to find the creature, and that he does, but when he find his tail damaged and the creature unable to fly, he invents a new tail section for him and soon they become friends, making him realise the Dragons aren't attacking them blindly, and there's much more to them than one might first assume.

While his father decides it's time he trained to be a Dragon killer, he finds that what he's learning with his new Dragon friend helps him find a peaceful end to his Dragon duels, and soon he's the toast of the village.


TheFilm.pngLet's address the basics first. There's absolutely no need for this film to be in 3D, and in fact one of my nephew's agreed as he watched most of the film with the glasses off. There are some scenes that do try and take advantage of the 3D, but most of them are all about throwing things at the camera, and therefore at the audience.

There is another type of scene that exploits the 3D aspect, the flying scene. Whether it be flying into the clouds or flying around or through something big, flying in 3D plays a fair part in the film. One thing though is that the sky flying doesn't feel like 3D when you're watching the film, you're just watching the film, the same can be said of the flying around something big. You're so focused on the film and story itself that the 3D just seems to disappear.

The 3D only really comes into play when something is thrown deliberately at the screen, the by product of which is to push you away from the film itself, something that shouldn't really happen as you'll begin to lose the audience at that point.

So the question remains. Why 3D? For me it as the choice of my nephews, but if the children hadn't forced me I would have chosen the cheaper option of 2D – how they can have the affront to charge more for the film as well as for the glasses I have no idea.

Okay, 3D over, let's get to the rest of the film.

It's good fun, it really is, and while there may not be the adult involvement that there is with a lot of other animated films, there is some and without it the film will still manage to transport you back to your youth, and you'll want it to.

Fun and entertaining with some strong great performances. While I do feel that Jay Burchel might have been the wrong voice for the younger character, and not just because all the adults seem talk Scottish. It is strange that while the adults were Scottish the children were mainly American, I guess that's down to recognisable actors for Hollywood, I'm not entirely sure.

Whatever the reason it has to be said that Gerard Butler is brilliant in this, his voice acting and character are perfect, and similar things can be said of Craig Ferguson. Honestly I'm not overly excited because of the fact they are Scottish (okay, there is a little of that in there) but they are both very natural and their characters look and feel so much fun.

As usual with DreamWorks films it is all about the writing that creates some great characters full of life and expression which allows the audience to be drawn to them and forget the fact that they are animated and 3D, making them believe in the character and bring it to life.

With the character of the Dragon this is incredibly apparent because they make you believe in it from the opening moments that you meet it. It behaves like a real animal, at times wild, defensive, curious, timid and all delivered through its movements and especially through its facial features. It made us believe in it so much that your emotions ride with the film through the beats of sadness and exhilaration, and come the end all thoughts of owning a puppy are out the window and you'll want a Dragon for yourself.

The other aspect that DreamWorks are so good at is building a great story around their characters, usually one that carries a strong moralistic lesson or two but never loses focus of delivering enjoyment and excitement. In this film that truth is always at the fore, and they never push it too far keeping the fun and entertainment coming through.


Overall.pngAnother great fun film from DreamWorks that manages to push all the right buttons with the audience and provides an enjoyable, engaging and emotional film which will appeal to all ages.

However there's just no need for the 3D in the film, it doesn't add anything to it at all, and while it's not distracting I actually forgot it was there for the most part.

The attraction here are the characters and the wonderful story that will entertain all ages. Nothing too deep or complicated, just honest to goodness entertainment and damn good entertainment at that.



Buy the film and merchandise from Amazon UK or Amazon US
UK IMDB Film Details




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Comments

Like you, I went along to see How to train your dragon begrudgingly. In fact, the only thing that talked me into it was that there wasn't much else on. But my bro, a film buff, was insistent that I'd love it. And I did. It's the best animated film to come out in a while and possibly the hottest one this year.

While I forgot about the 3D for quite a lot of the time, I found it impressive for the dragon fight towards the end and the falling ash but even if there were no 3D, it's a simple story told astonishingly well. The characters are gripping. Our review basically drooled over it:

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