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Review: Angry Birds by Jamie

Ever since the release of Super Mario Bros in 1993, Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to leech off of the popularity of video games. This was particularly troublesome back in the day because most video games didn’t have much going in the way of plot beyond run right, jump and stomp on bad guys. Studios inevitably found themselves having to try and flesh out these threadbare plots to try and put something on the screen for at least an hour and a half so that they could somehow justify calling it a film.

It’s just like the game you remember and love!

Even as the years have gone by and the games themselves have developed more complex and intricate storylines with more fleshed out and developed characters, for some reason the movies that are adapted from them don’t seem to have been able to bring that to the screen. Max Payne was a game widely regarded for it’s storytelling and strong central character but the movie version is a lukewarm piece of shit starring Mark Wahlberg that no one really remembers any more and rightfully so.

Still, video games are massive money makers and with the right property it should be possible to pull of the seemingly herculean task of actually making a video game movie worth seeing. I won’t lie, some of them do seem like they could be promising. There’s the Duncan Jones helmed Warcraft movie which has some potential and an Assassin’s Creed movie starring Michael Fassbender which could be pretty good. And then there’s Angry Birds. Yes, someone out there saw the travesty that was the Super Mario Bros movie and said to themselves “Can we find a game that has even less of a plot than that and make that into a movie? After all, the only thing that matters is brand recognition. As long as the name gets people to put their money on the counter, who gives a fuck if it has literally any story?”

It’s that easy!.

And so here we are, nearly a quarter of a century later and we find ourselves faced with a movie based on a video game that most people spend five minutes playing at a time while sitting on the toilet. What is the plot of the game? Some pigs steal some birds eggs. The birds want them back. FIne, that’s a perfectly fine and simple setup for a quick little physics puzzle game. I’ll even go so far as to say that it could make a fairly decent basic of a plot for a movie maybe. But the problem is that by adapting that story from a video game, you suddenly find yourself restricted by the rules of that video game. This means that you have to reference things that the video game has in it. For example, one of the characters in The Angry Birds Movie is called Bomb. When he’s upset, he explodes. It’s as simple as that (or it would be if he actually exploded the many, many times he should surely be upset during this film, but I digress). Why does this happen? I dunno. This is perfectly fine as a mechanic for a video game that you’re not meant to put too much though in to. At the end of the day, if the object of the game is to knock down structures and kill pigs, does it matter if it’s an exploding bird or an actual bomb? No. No it does not. But when it’s a talking, emotive character in a movie then there should be some kind of reason? Why do some of these birds have super powers? Why do some of them not? Why did someone decide to make Angry Birds into a movie? These are all questions which probably should be answered.

There are other problems too. Early in the movie, Red, the main character, is sent to an anger management therapy where he meets the previously mentioned Bomb and the small yellow bird named Chuck. Neither of these two actually seem particularly angry. Chuck is literally just fast and Bomb’s only problem is his exploding which generally seems to happen when he is startled rather than infuriated. Why are these two in anger management? Fuck knows. Because Red has to meet them somehow I guess?

Ok, so maybe I’m thinking a little too much about what is ostensibly a children’s movie. Sure, I can understand that and perhaps you’re right. Perhaps the most importnat thing when you really get down to it is whether or not the movie is entertaining. The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. There aren’t really jokes in this movie. Just things happening and then people reacting to them often with a phrase that’s popular at the moment. You know, the kind of timeless humour that will really, really play well in a few years time. And there’s a few jokes sprinkled in for the adults throughout although they are mostly pretty weak such as a book on the pigs ship being called “Fifty Shades of Green.” That kind of thing. In fact, there were maybe two jokes that made me laugh throughout the whole film. One was the line “Something isn’t kosher with these pigs.” and the other was when Red insinuated that another bird looked like he may be a kid abducting paedophile. Hehehehe. Children’s movies. Ok, I’ll admit, Peter Dinklage might have gotten a smile out of me as the Might Eagle but I couldn’t tell you if that was because of the movie or because I thought of Tyrion.

Finally, there’s the message of the movie. Red doesn’t trust these foreigners who have shown up on his land and his ingrained mistrust of strangers is proven to be correct. It turns out that these weird people from a strange land don’t want to be friends! They just want to eat the natives children! Vote Red, 2016. Make Bird Island great again.

Again, I know I’m probably coming down too hard on a piece of shit fluff movie that’s just meant to keep kids entertained for an hour and a half. But there are movies that prove that can be done well and with thought and passion and craft. Movies like How To Train Your Dragon or Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs or, you know, most of Pixar’s catalogue. People deserve better than someone assuming that you’ll cynically pay to see a move just because they recognise the name of it. Your children deserve better than that too.

½ pint out of five for that paedophile joke. Hehehehe.

The Angry Birds Movie

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31 Days Of Horror 16: Frankenweenie by Jamie

So I figured I might as well male this animated diversion a trilogy since I was reminded that Frankenweenie existed at some point and out of the three, it could be said that this film has the largest horror pedigree because it is obvious that Tim Burton loves classic horror films, 1931’s Frankenstein in particular.

The story concerns Victor Frankenstein… wait a minute, Victor Frankenstein? Huh, fine. So yes, Victor Frankenstein loves his dog Sparky. Unfortunately Sparky is hit by a car and killed. Inspired by an experiment in his science class, Victor decides to try and reanimate his beloved pet and, living up to his namesake, he is successful. His classmates learn of this and, worried that Victor will show them up at the science fair, they decide to try and get the secret of animal resurrection for themselves.

So like I said, for the most part this is a pretty straightforward take on Frankenstein (the movie more so than the book). It follows it pretty much directly with a few diversions here or there to reference a number of other horror films (from Godzilla to Gremlins). There are differences of course. Re-animated Sparky retains his former personality rather than becoming a lumbering, misunderstood beast-dog, though he still does wind up being misunderstood of course.

Now I don’t have a problem with Frankenweenie basically being Frankenstein with a dog, in fact it’s really rather enjoyable because I love 1931’s Frankenstein too. It even manages to put a more modern spin on the story. The message of Frankenweenie isn’t “Science has dared to spit in the eye of God!” Rather the message is science is awesome and it is neither good nor bad but it can be used both ways. The middle of the movie even contains a great scene that is essentially science vs ignorance with one character complaining about how Pluto isn’t even a planet any more thanks to science. It’s great.

he movie does have another message however, one about loss and letting go, a message that seemed to have sunk in by the end of the movie in rather a nice, heartfelt way until it is completely negated by the film’s ending which is a shame. If Burton had had the guts to stick to where the movie looked like where it was heading, it would have been a vastly superior film.

Still this is probably Burton’s best film in years, reminiscent of his earlier stuff like Edward Scissorhands and, by virtue of it being stop animated and being filled with horror references, A Nightmare Before Christmas. This makes sense since it’s based on a short film of his from 1984 and it was nice to see him returning to an original idea of his rather than taking an existing property and ‘Burtonizing’ it. Hopefully, he’ll stay on this path for a bit longer. Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

Frankenweenie_(2012_film)_poster



31 Days Of Horror 15: ParaNorman (2012) by Jamie

So it seems as though I’m still on my nice little animated break from the blood, guts and gore of your more traditional horror fare but this one at least has something more Halloweeny about it than Monsters University what with it’s Zombies and ghosts and witches and such.

ParaNorman is the tale of a young boy named Norman who is obsessed with zombie movie and, it just so happens, can see and speak to the spirits of the dead. He lives in a town that’s only claim to fame is a witch trial some three hundred years prior. The witch it seems placed a curse on those who tried her that would mean that they would rise from their graves, doomed to have their souls trapped in undead bodies for all eternity. Norman comes to learn that this legend actually has a basis in fact and, due to his special ability, it will soon be his responsibility to see that the curse goes unfulfilled for another year. Will he succeed or will the accursed undead rise from their rest?

Well, I should think the answer to that is pretty obvious or else there wouldn’t be a movie. and a movie there is. A rather enjoyable movie as it turns out and one that I’m happy to see doesn’t feel the need to talk down to kids. It’s a movie that realises that you don’t have to talk down to kids. You can make jokes about sex and violence because kids are already making the same jokes on the playground. One character whilst getting Norman to keep a promise by asking him to swear to which Norman responds “You mean like the F word?” These are the kinds of jokes that I can appreciate. Jokes that remind me of my childhood when I heard kids say shit in The Goonies or Elliot call his brother penis-breath in E.T. It’s stuff kids don’t need to be sheltered from because they already know it. It’s honest.

There’s also a pretty good message at the heart of this film, the message of acceptance. Yes, that you should always be accepting of others no matter your own prejudices or fears but also acceptance of the fact that some people just won’t like you, they’ll be dicks to you but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a dick back.

All in all this was a pretty funny and thoroughly enjoyable film. If I have a complaint it’s that it kinda lags a touch in the middle where the talking to ghosts conceit seems to be all but abandoned for a while but it makes up for it with a pretty strong beginning and ending, some nice horror references to things like Halloween and Friday the 13th and by being one of the best looking stop-motion films I’ve ever seen. Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

ParaNorman_poster



31 Days Of Horror 14: Monsters University (2013) by Jamie

Ok… I know I was stretching the definition of horror with Stoker. Yes, there is no way that Monsters University could truly be defined as a “horror” film but Monsters is right there in the title and I’ve been enveloped in gore, murder and all that kind of stuff lately and god damnit I need something light so I’m going ahead with this one… Did I mention that the word Monsters was in the title?

So, the original Monsters Inc. It’s a good movie I can’t deny that but I was never a massive fan of it.  It had some interesting ideas but it was kinda formulaic especially after Toy Story 1 and 2. It kinda falls above Bug’s Life for me but definitely near the bottom of the Pixar pile, a good pile though it may be. So how good could a prequel released twelve years after the original actually be especially given the fact that prequel is almost a curse word by this point?

Well, honestly I think I preferred it to the original. Scrap that. I definitely preferred it to the original. I’ll admit, I was sceptical as many were when I first heard of this film. It seemed as though lately Pixar had been falling into a sequel quagmire and their latest original film wasn’t exactly ground-breaking (Yes, I’m looking at you Brave). Monsters University was just another attempt at a soulless cash in by a company that was running out of good original ideas. I also wondered exactly why they were releasing a movie set at a university, a movie ostensibly aimed at kids.

Having watched it though, I can say that whilst this may not be Pixar’s most heart-warming movie, though it still has it’s moments, it is one of their funniest. I also realised that despite the colourful monster designs this isn’t a movie aimed squarely at kids like the Cars franchise is and it made sense to me when I considered that twelve year gap between films. The kids who saw the first movie are probably around University age themselves now. There’s no way kids are gonna get jokes about new age philosophy or subtly implied accidental incest jokes but the kids who watched that first movie twelve years ago are and this is a movie for them. There’s still plenty of jokes and stuff kids will enjoy, don’t get me wrong, but I firmly believe that kids today aren’t the primary audience for this film.

Pixar are really good at this ageing with their audience thing and getting a good balance between appealing to both kids and adults. Hell, just look at Toy Story 3 released ffteen years after the first film. It’s all about growing up and leaving behind your childhood, about parents saying goodbye to their kids. It’s a film that I absolutely believes resonates more with the generation who grew up watching that first film than it does with kids today.

Still, it does fall into a few traps that prequels inevitably do. The crammed in jokes that serve as a bridge between the two films. They aren’t anywhere egregious as the hoops Lucas jumped through to ensure that every little thing in the Star Wars prequels was connected to everything else (3PO was built by Vader! Obi-Wan was chased by Boba Fett and his dad! Yoda hung out with Chewbacca!) but there is a plot thread featuring Randall from the first film which seems like it just stops at one point, feeling like an excuse to have the character there because, you know, prequel.

Still overall this a damn enjoyable film and, to further justify this being included in my horror month, one of the final scenes is a pretty nice homage to horror movies in general. It even takes place at a summer camp. It’s a scene where a character finally realizes… Well, saying anymore would be entering spoiler territory but it’s a surprisingly different place than I thought the movie would go so good for it. Four pints out of five. Laterz.

 

Monsters_University_poster_3



Review: Epic by Jamie

I often moan about 3D. I find it unnecessary and it generally takes away from the cinema experience rather than enhance it. When I saw Toy Story 3, for example, I’d forgotten that I was even watching it in 3D after around ten minutes. If that’s the case, then what’s the point? Of all the 3D movies I’ve seen, only two have ever impressed me. Piranha 3D which used the 3D as the gimmick it is, and Transformers 3 though that may have been me trying to grasp onto anything I could possibly enjoy from that shit pile.

And so it is that for the most part I see movies in 2D whenever possible. But sometimes that isn’t possible like when a preview screening of Epic sells out in 2D because the world is an annoying place. So after much bitching and moaning I buckled down, paid the extra money for the “3D experience” and the stupid 3D glasses as well. And goddamnit, it was actually worth it this time. For the first time that I can remember, the 3D actually added something. It probably has to do with the nature of the movie. In a forest, you really can make a depth of vision that’s noticeable especially when you’re experiencing it at the height of a bug. So yes, first off I’ll admit that the 3D was actually good throughout and I’d recommend seeing it this way if you do choose to see it.

Still 3D isn’t the reason people go to the cinema. They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. Epic succeeds on the first part, the second well kinda. Obviously this is a story we’ve all seen before, inhabitants of a forest trying to save said forest. An outsider being shrunk down and helping in that battle is also something we’ve seen before. Yes, Epic is very, very similar to “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” except now we have a snail and a slug instead of a bat as the comic-relief.

So yeah, you know the story. There’s a scientist named Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) who’s obsessed with discovering a race of tiny men that he believes live in the forest. His daughter MK (Amanda Seyfried) comes to stay with him after her mother dies but believes him to be insane because of said obsession. Events unfurl that lead to MK being shrunk, finding out that her dad was right and having to help the tiny race known as the Leaf Men fight their enemy, The Boggans, who spread rot.

Honestly, the film sounds like it’s literally been reassembled from the assorted carcass of other movies like some kind of Frankenfilm’s monster. Take a bit of Ferngully, a bit of ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’, a little ‘Lord of the Rings’, stitch it all together and you get Epic. Despite all that there is an enjoyable story here and there’s some innovative stuff that I’ve never seen on film before like the theory that Bomba comes up with that we can’t see the race of little people because they live faster than we do. Hence when MK is shrunk, all the larger animals seem to be moving in slow motion. It’s not completely insane. Pigeons, for example, see in slow motion. That’s why they leave it until the last second before moving out of the way of danger. They’re not completely stupid… Just partially stupid.

The voice talent is all pretty good. Biggest surprise was Steven Tyler as an old caterpillar (caterpillars do not work that way) called Nim Galuu. His voice fit the role well and he did a pretty decent job. The slug and the snail voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd respectively were entertaining enough. Sure, they had a few jokes that fell flat but the kids in the audience seemed to enjoy them so fair enough. The stand out, however, is of course Christoph Waltz as Mandrake, the villain. What can I say? He’s Christoph fucking Waltz for fucks sake, of course he’s good. Perhaps most interesting for the character itself was that he has a son and he actually seems proud of him. This is surprising because normally when a villain has a child, they find them bumbling or incompetent and quite an embarrassment. This was a nice change. Also Mandrake wears the skin of a bat which may have been a mistake on the film makers part. You expect me to root against a character wearing a bat cape and cowl? For shame.

Another big surprise was Colin Farrell as Ronin, the leader of the Leaf Men. He brings a lot of humanity to a character that, in a lesser film, would just be a gruff hard ass who’s always getting on the case of the male lead, Nod (Josh Hutcherson). Instead he’s a layered character who cares about Nod due to his relationship with Nod’s father and it’s his unresolved emotional feelings towards the Queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) and his strong sense of duty that really drive him on his quest.

So yeah, overall a perfectly enjoyable film and one that is actually improved through it’s use of 3D. There’s a battle sequence early on between the Leaf Men and the Boggans that’s fast paced and extremely lively just because of the way they’ve used the depth and vibrancy that the 3D provides them and I applaud them for it. Still, it probably doesn’t quite deserve the title Epic. Maybe Good but who’s going to see a movie just called Good? No one. There are moments where the film seems to slow down just a little too much and he relationship between the two leads never really develops naturally like it should. I’d probably rank this just below your better non-Pixar CGI films. It never really reaches the heights of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ or ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’ but it’s certainly better than stuff like the Ice Age or Madagascar sequels. Three pints out of five. Laters.

Poster



Zombie Month: City of Rott by Jamie

Zombies. They’re reanimated and now they’re animated too in ‘City of Rott’! Ugh… I’m sorry. Really sorry. That was inexcusable. Let’s just forget that happened.

So yes, ‘City of Rott’ is a 2006 animated film that takes place during the Zombie Apocalypse. The cause of this particular Zombie uprising is a parasitic worm called the Rot Worm. It has infected the Earth’s water supply and, when ingested or getting into a human body in anyway, the Worms begin to feast on the hosts flesh and heading for the brain, pretty much turning them into your traditional Romero style Zombies.

Stuck in the middle of this Undead Holocaust is Fred, an elderly man with a walker which he wields as a rather effective weapon. His quest is to find a new pair of slippers because what’s the point of surviving if your feet are uncomfortable? It’s also clear that Fred has gone quite mad as he talks to his walker and believes it speaks to him as well as experiencing infrequent hallucinations.

On Fred’s journey, he meets up with a number of other survivors including a nurse, hoping to find a cure for her Zombie bite, a survivalist named Jon who decides to help the old man and a mysterious elderly gentleman who carries around a bottle of prune juice. He also visits and passes a number of interesting locations such as the mall (Where you find a mall, you find Zombies) and Tex’s Chainsaws.

So yeah, the film is full of little references to earlier Zombie films and horror films in general, often in the back ground. One of my favourites was probably a sign that read ‘At Night, Dawn Day will perform “This Land”. Tickets $80’. It’s little touches like this that make the film enjoyable for the seasoned Zombie fan.

Now, I’ve left the plot synopsis there because there are some pretty big spoilers that going any further into the plot would give away. Does that mean that I’m recommending this film? Not entirely. I think it’s certainly a fairly enjoyable film but I also think that this is one that’ll be very subjective. There are long, long stretches of the film that suffer from repetitive action, basically scene after scene of the main character performing the same moves with his walker in order to wipe out Zombies. It’s entertaining the first few times but it get’s old fast.

And if you thought that Romero was overly preachy with ‘Diary of the Dead’ then you might just hate this film. Ok, you’ll think to yourself, the government is bad for taking taxes, human beings are just bad in general and in following trends aren‘t we basically already Zombies? Yes, isn’t bad that farmers refer to living animals as products? Yawn. Just get on with it please because I neither agree nor disagree with your philosophy. In fact, I think you basically just taken it too damn far and you try to cram too much into this one hour and sixteen minute long movie. Hell, there’s even a song in the film where the lyrics are basically something like ‘Six billion people… draining the Earth…’ Jesus fucking Christ, gimme a break already. Yes, Zombie movies have always been an avenue for social commentary when done right. You just need to be a tad more subtle and selective.

The animation style is adequate for what it is, kind of like an old school episode of South Park. The film also only has one voice actor, Frank Sudol, who also did pretty much everything else for film too and I suppose he deserves some respect for that. Unfortunately when it comes to the voices, most of the characters sound like they’re doing bad Jimmy Stewart impressions and that’s a little off putting.

Finally, there’s that one hour and sixteen minute running time. I honestly think it’s too long for a movie of this nature. Trim out some of the repetitive action and make it an hour or less. Just tighten the whole thing up because as it is, it’s a little all over the place, especially when the main portion of the film is spent following one character around.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad film, it’s just not particularly great either. It does have an interesting story, it’s just marred by all the ancillary crap that seems to have been thrown in to somehow justify it’s running time. Overall, I’ll give it three pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: How To Train Your Dragon by Jamie

I’ve tried to stay away from spoilers but there are still a couple of things which people may consider to be a little spoilerish.

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of dragons. I’m assuming this is probably some kind of extension of my lifelong love of dinosaurs. There’s just something fascinating about the giant, mythical reptile beasts with their leathery bat-wings and their propensity for igniting their breath. Yet despite the fact that some kind of dragon legend or other permeates almost every culture on Earth, dragons on the big screen have always been a little hit and miss.

From the crap like D-War and Eragon to the pretty good like Reign of Fire, there’s never really been a dragon film that stood out. Well, I suppose there was ‘Pete’s Dragon’ but in terms of ‘realistic’ dragons, there’s never been anything great. I should probably define that term ‘realistic’ dragon. I mean something that makes somewhat sense biologically, with a slight hint of suspension of disbelief for things like flying, occasionally speech and fire-breathing, but something which looks like it could possibly exist without a ridiculous number of magical powers. That’s why Pete’s Dragon doesn’t count in this definition and Draco from ‘Dragonheart’ does.

So it was with some apprehension that I decided to watch ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. I’ll say that I watched in 2D because a) My last experience with 3D with ‘Clash of the Titans’ was so piss-poor that I’d rather just watch things in 2D and b) I think maybe 3D doesn’t work for me as well as it does for most people. Maybe it’s because I wear glasses, maybe it’s because I need to have my eyes tested again and get better glasses. I’m not sure but 2D is fine for me anyway.

Also, yes, I know this is based on a book. No, I haven’t read the book. From what I understand the film is quite different from the book in that the film has more of a mature edge. Right, that’s that out of the way. Let’s get on with the review.

So, ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ concerns the story of a young Viking named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of Chieftain Stoic The Vast (Gerard Butler) and the village’s local fuck-up. In their particular clan it’s generally seen that the best thing you can be is a great and mighty Dragon Slayer. Sadly, due to the fact that he is a bit of a fuck-up, it seems as though Hiccup will never achieve such glory. However during a Dragon raid on their village, he manages to use a special bolas machine he has invented to take down the legendary Night Fury, a dragon so rare and that flies at such great speeds that no one has ever actually seen one. Of course, no one believes Hiccup and so he goes to the forest where his target crashed in order to prove himself to everyone.

Unfortunately when he finds the dragon it turns out that he’s only ensnared it in the giant bolas rather than actually kill it. He is about to stab it and cut out his heart but finds he pities the creature, sensing it’s fear and decides to free it instead. The dragon takes off into a valley, a valley that Hiccup finds that the dragon can’t get back out of because the bolas has damaged his tail and he isn’t able to fly properly anymore. Hiccup manages to gain the beasts trust by feeding it fish and gives it the name Toothless due to it’s ability to retract it’s teeth back into it’s gums. He slowly begins to train domesticate the dragon, inventing a kind of prosthetic tail-fin to enable it to fly again and allow him to control Toothless whilst riding him.

Whilst this is going on back in the Village, Hiccup is being trained to be a Dragon Slayer with his peers, braggart Snotlout (Jonah Hill), frantic fraternal twins Tuffnut (T.J. Miller) and Ruff nut (Kristen Wiig), nerdy Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the object of his adolescent fantasies Astrid (America Ferrera). This training is carried out by the awesome Gobbler The Belch (Craig Ferguson), a Viking who’s run in with dragons in the past have left him with a metal leg and an arm which he can screw various different tools into including, most awesomely, a mead tankard. If I ever loose a hand, I’m so getting a tankard attached to my stump.

Anyway, to begin with Hiccup isn’t particularly great during these lessons but as time goes on, he gets to learn more about dragons from his experiences training Toothless. He uses these things to basically tame the dragons in the training pens in a similar manner and soon the Vikings think he has some mystical affinity with the beasts.

I’ll leave the plot discussion there for now. I don’t particularly want to give away the ending except to say that things happen on an incredible scale and it’s amazing to watch, especially compared with that fucking confusing Kraken from ‘Clash of the Titans’. (Though admittedly, the trailer below gives it away a little).

Let’s start of with the look of the film. It’s fucking amazing. Some of the scenes with the dragon in flight are some of the most incredible things I’ve seen in a CGI animated film and I’m even gonna include ’Avatar’ in that. It truly is beautiful and there are times when there are literally hundreds of dragons on screen and it’s truly a magnificent sight. I also really love the design of Toothless. He’s somewhat reminiscent of an axolotl and everyone loves axolotls. They rule. It’s a nice departure from something strictly lizard-esque though still recognisable as something close to the classical image of a dragon.

It’s also genuinely funny and it completely avoids any pop cultural references (Though you could say the little arena where Hiccup must fight a dragon looks a bit like the thunder dome for Mad Max 3) which have become the hallmark of the somewhat lacklustre recent ‘Shrek’ films and non-Pixar CGI films in general. Every piece of humour works perfectly well and consistently within the context of the films medieval/fantasy world. I’ll also say that this is probably the first family film that I’ve ever seen that contained the phrase “Breast Hat” and for that alone it must be applauded.

The actors providing the voices are all really quite brilliant, delivering believable performances. Perhaps the most enjoyable, besides Hiccup himself, was Gobbler played by Craig Ferguson. He managed to deliver just enough humour but also seemed to care for Hiccup in a way that his father really didn’t seem to. Speaking of his father, Stoic played by Gerard Butler , I was really surprised by this performance. Butler seems to have a more convincing emotional range in this then he’s ever had in any film where he’s actually appeared on screen. I honestly hope he does more of this kind of film because he was really, really good in it.

There is one thing that did seem a bit odd. Why is it that all the adults in this film have Scottish accents whilst all the children have American accents? I mean that’s odd on it’s own but aren’t these people supposed to be Vikings? Shouldn’t they all be talking like the Swedish Chef or something? No, no that’s stupid. I apologise. I suppose it’s fine the way it is… Just a bit odd is all…

Anyway, if I had to compare this to any other recent film of this type, I suppose I’d say it’s most like ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’. In fact the underlying emotional story is pretty similar. Both films are essentially about sons who want nothing more than their fathers approval and trust. I think that that particular story element is probably explored a bit more fully in ‘Cloudy…’ but in terms of overall enjoyment I think ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ just beats it for me personally. Maybe it’s just my natural love for all things Draconian. Four and a half pints out of five.




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