[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005PV2R3C][/pullquote] How to Train Your Dragon is a film loosely based on the first in a series of books written by Cressida Cowell. Upon release it because Dreamworks Animations fifth most successful release behind all of the Shrek films. Thee was some concern just before release of the quality of the film as the plot from the book has been almost entirely changed although the character names remain the same. These proved to be misguided and How to Train Your Dragon was a commercial and critical success.
Set on the fictionalisland of Berk, the story follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), whose lack of fighting prowess brings shame to his father Chieftan Stoick (Gerard Butler). The island is beset with constant attacks by dragons, and it is after one of these attacks that Hiccup stumbles upon a downed dragon who he befriends and names Toothless. The two bond and his time spent with the Toothless gives him the edge in his training, whilst his father continues to search for the lost island home of the dragons with a view to wiping them out.
The animation of How to Train Your Dragon is plush and colourful. The landscapes are nicely rendered and the facial expressions are so well realised that they become an important comedic tool throughout. The voice-casting is excellent, with Baruchel in particular providing an acute understanding of the down-trodeen disappointment of a son that Hiccup is.
The film lacks the depth of the truly great animations and many of the characters getting little or no development and like the later Shrek films, this leaves the overall film feeling a bit shallow. However what it does have is bags of energy and some very funny slapstick moments. Whilst we don’t understand why we should care about certain characters, we can all understand why a human eating a raw fish is funny. The soundtrack is also worthy of a mention as it captures the Viking environment perfectly and swells to epic proportions at the appropriate moments.
Whilst the lack of depth prevents the film from reaching the same heights as a Finding Nemo or a Toy Story, there is boundless energy and enthusiasm throughout, with solid voice-casting, a good score and some exciting mid-air dragon fights.