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28 March 2010 @ 10:05 pm
REVIEW : How To Train Your Dragon  
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Hiccup goes to Hollywood
Posted on: Monday, December 14, 2009

I am SO excited about the movie! My husband and three children (Maisie, 11, Clementine, 9, and Alexander, 6) went with me to California to visit the studio in August, and we all loved it.

It is a spectacular film - exciting, and moving. The animation is incredible, and it has some of the best flying scenes I have ever seen. When I watched it in 3D (which I would recommend, it really is worth seeing it in 3D) I actually felt like I was riding the dragons myself. I nearly got dragon-sick.

It is a little mind-blowing for me to see it, because as you can see if you look elsewhere on this website, the book is based on a real place, and real things that happened to me as a child. The movie can really show you the staggering beauty of this island world, whereas in a book an author can describe, but is relying on the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps, as it were.

This is a BIG movie, an epic re-telling of the Hiccup story, and it is different in some ways from the books. Personally, I’m very relaxed about this, because I feel that books and film are different media and sometimes stories change and adapt when they are translated into a new medium. What I really wanted was for Dreamworks to make a wonderful movie. So I was open to the idea of them making changes, particularly because the film keeps true to the spirit and message of the book, the relationship between Stoick and Hiccup, and the characters and the world I created.

Furthermore, I have written eight books in the series now, and I am extremely proud of them. If a movie puts forward a slightly different interpretation of things, it doesn't change the books themselves. There they still are, just the same as they always were. The books are my own complete personal vision of the world and that remains unaltered.

I know that all the people who have worked on the movie over the past six years are absolutely passionate about the books, and the characters and the world. I think very highly of the producer, Bonnie Arnold, who produced ‘Toy Story’, what a great movie, and of the directors, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who directed ‘Lilo and Stitch’ with such vision and originality. They are all extremely dedicated, creative people, as are the actors and the animators, and the changes they did make were not made lightly.

The Toothless in the movie, for instance, is miles bigger than he is in the books. I can see why they took the decision to make him bigger, because if you are making a movie about dragons in 3D, as a spectator you might feel a little disappointed if the hero can’t actually climb aboard his dragon and ride it. Despite being larger than he is in the book, Toothless is still (as my three children said when they saw the movie) ‘very cute’. He is still a dragon that I would have longed to own when I was a child and the scenes where Hiccup flies on Toothless’s back are absolutely breathtaking.

(My favourite scene, though, is the one where Hiccup first meets Toothless in the wood. I won’t tell you what happens, but I think that’s a stunning scene.)

Hiccup is beautifully observed and acted. He isn’t ‘stylised’ in a cartoon-y sort of way, and the CGI animation is so advanced that they can really tell the emotional story between Hiccup and his father. I think anybody who has ever been a child or a parent will empathise with them struggling to talk to one another. Animation has now advanced to such an extent that Hiccup feels almost like a real boy, and you empathise with him and want to ‘be’ him in the same way you might want to ‘be’ a hero in a live action movie.

I think it’s a wonderfully enjoyable, funny and beautiful film. Like all the best movies, it feels like a world you haven’t seen before. And most important of all, you really care about the characters, it’s touching as well as exciting. It is coming out in March, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

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