Sunday, April 4, 2010

Posted by cendol

It's taken a quarter of a year for 2010 to produce an SF&F movie that I can honestly recommend, but it is my pleasure to be able to do so for How To Train Your Dragon, an Imax 3-D offering from DreamWorks Animation. It's by the same creative team that did Lilo & Stitch, and the 1st sight of the eponymous dragon should give you a frisson of déjà vu if you saw that little delight back in 2002.

The story opens with a voice-over narration from a character we will soon meet, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), son of Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler, and that's pronounced "stoic", not "stoyk"), leader of a viking village that's beset with what Hiccup understatedly calls a pest problem. As he mentions this, 1 of the 2 sheep contentedly grazing before us suddenly gets snatched away by a barely seen dark shape from above. Yes, it turns out that the "pests" are dragons. The village has been there for 7 generations, but Hiccup notes that all the houses are brand new, and we shortly see why, as flaming dragon breath takes out several of them. Still, the tribe soldiers on. "We're vikings", Hiccup tells us. "We have stubbornness issues."

For some odd reason, all the kids speak colloquial English, but all the adults have a thick Scottish brogue — no hint of Scandinavia in any of it. Perhaps that's yet another wrinkle in the movie's offbeat sense of humor, which is never thigh-slappingly hilarious but produces plenty of smiles and grins.

This is anything but a "message" movie, but there are lessons to be learned from it. They're like the medicine hidden in the spoonful of sugar. You get better while feeling good about it. Yum!

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