Movies: How to Train Your Dragon * * *
(PG, general release)
3D animations are bombarding us thick and fast at the minute, and this cheery DreamWorks yarn uses the latest technology to bring to life a mythical world of Vikings and dragons.
Jay Baruchel does the voice of Hiccup, a skinny young chap who introduces us to his community on the misty northern island of Berk. Life on Berk is pretty tough, as the hardy Viking villagers are regularly the subject of speculative raids by fire-breathing dragons. These are stoutly repelled by the tribe's chief and Hiccup's father, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler). But Hiccup is something of a disappointment to his dad.
A bookish nerd with a Woody Allen-ish sense of humour, he seems destined to flunk dragon-training and bring shame on his family name. He's something of a boffin, and when he creates a bolas-shooting cannon, he's shocked when he manages to bring down a rare kind of black dragon. He finds the dragon hiding out in a remote valley, the loss of a tail fin having left it unable to fly. Cautiously, steadily, he builds up a relationship with the creature and makes an artificial fin that enables them both to take flight.
How to Train Your Dragon is cheerful and entertaining stuff, and the animators have a lot of fun when it comes to the spectacular 3D flying sequences. I was initially troubled by the fact that while all Berk's children sound Californian, their elders boast sturdy celtic accents -- until I remembered that a similar phenomenon pertains on my island.