How to Train Your Dragon
The names Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders may not ring a bell with most parents of young children; Shrek, Mulan and Lilo & Stitch would. The brains behind these hugely popular children’s films, DeBlois and Sanders have now co-directed How To Train Your Dragon, yet another immensely likeable animation film, this time in 3D.
Adapted from the book by Cressida Cowell, Dragon is set in the age of the Vikings. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the unlikely hero is a troubled lad. He lives on a gusty island that’s frequently visited by marauding, sheep-stealing dragons. His father (voiced by Gerard Butler) is a barrel-chested chieftain who has a visceral hatred of dragons. Hiccup’s contemporaries, who attend dragon-fighting school are a gutsy lot, able to take on fearsome creatures like Gronckle and Deadly Nadder, but the spindly Hiccup just isn’t cut out for this killer stuff. Then Hiccup discovers a previously unknown power – he can tame one of these fire-breathers and take it for sky jaunts....whooo! Seems like dragons aren’t that beastly after all!
Some of the nicest moments are between Hiccup and Toothless, the dragon he is destined to befriend. Then there are the other dragons, some adorably comical, but all with personalities so distinctive, they nearly overshadow the main actors. The flight sequences will leave both kids and parents glassy-eyed with wonder (shades of Avatar on a milder scale). There’s a dash of suspense and emotion too; Hiccup must hide his friendship from his father as Toothless belongs to the deadly Night Fury species and will be mercilessly slain. Toothless doesn’t speak but his expressions tug at the heart, conveying far more than words. There are occasional doses of reality like loss of life, rare in this genre.
The outcomes are predictable and the messages for kids, of respect, inclusivity and tolerance are obvious. That doesn’t come in the way of your having fun. While the movie doesn’t really scale new heights, it’s nevertheless a pleasant watch for kids and parents alike.