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How to Train your Dragon: Visually Captivating for the Child at Heart
Throw on your 3D glasses and allow your imagination to soar with the latest animation film by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, the directing team that also worked side by side on Disney’s Mulan and Lilo & Stitch.
In their latest venture into the 3D animation world, How to Train your Dragon revolves around Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Buruchel), a young and immensely sweet young boy who has the ultimate dream of joining the Viking ranks alongside his father, Stoic the Vast (Butler). In the eyes of the humongous and steaming-attitude Stoic, young and clumsy Hiccup is not good enough to gain the Viking horns, and is better left to wield swords and stay out of Stoic’s way.
Taking place in a Viking village called Berk, the film guides you through Hiccup’s fight against disenchantment, evil and the ironies of life experienced by the 10-year-old boy that can apply to anyone, no matter the age.
The small yet brave Hiccup sets out on a personal journey that takes his quest to become a dragon-fighting Viking down a completely different path. The illuminating discovery that Hiccup stumbles upon not only changes his perspective on the Viking vs. Dragon world but burdens him with the responsibility of enlightening his community, which is bound to never listen.
In the meanwhile, Hiccup’s love for Astrid (Ferrera), a female Viking-in-training, keeps a lighthearted twist on an otherwise tumultuous and heavy journey for little Hiccup.
From Hiccup’s fight against the village’s ignorance to his surprising friendship formed with the Night Fury dragon, who he names Toothless, Hiccup’s journey is bound to enthral you with the young boy’s determination and courage to bring peace between both sides of Hiccup’s new found world.
The cinematography is empowering at times, including the incredible flying scene where Hiccup is mounted on the back of Toothless, flying through beautiful landscapes of a lush valley and bouncy clouds. Intricate details and textures are used throughout the entire film, leaving you reaching out for a feel, from the single strands of hair woven into Astrid’s braids to the wrinkle lines revealing the intensity of Stoic’s life.
While the ending might possibly tug at your emotions, How to Train your Dragon is capable of pulling you into the absolute beauty of a child’s imagination, which is often times squelched. You’re left wanting to be engaged with your childlike self and noticing the creatures around that we often forget about; from the tiniest of bug to the most gargantuan of dragon. Allow yourself to be there and take part in Hiccup’s story that is bound to teach you one thing or another.
Spooks: The Greater Good, the big-screen treatment of the long-running BBC television series, comes almost four years after the show’s exit from the small-screen. Known for its devastating twists, fans of the original show will be pleased with Bharat Nalluri’s commendable effort, although those who aren't familiar with it, might feel a little lost in the process and even a little underwhelmed with the end-result.
The adaptation sees Peter Firth reprise his role as the unflinching and emotionless MI5 chief, Sir. Harry Pearce, and the film opens with a long opening credits sequence showing Pearce taking the heat for the escape of a Middle Eastern Terrorist, Adem Qasim (Gabel) during a botched prison transfer from MI5 to the CIA. Taking full responsibility for the escape, he is soon forced to resign from service and, as a result, fakes his own suicide and goes rogue, which triggers an investigation. The man given the find out what happened to Harry is – dramatic pause – his former protégé, Will Holloway, ably played by Game of Thrones hunk, Kit Harrington.
Written by Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, there’s a distinct sense of grittiness and realism that is often missing from similar productions across the pond in Hollywood. The tone is applied well to what is a heavy mix of traditional and modern elements of espionage films and the twists and turns are aplenty – perhaps a little too many to keep a steady track of. But the urgency behind each and every one of them can be felt throughout. Sadly, however, the film’s faults are of its own doing; produced on a relatively modest budget, it tries a little too hard to impress and it’s only when it tries to move things into the kind of grandeur and ambitious action set-pieces associated with its Hollywood peers that it falls a little short.
Firth, who has been playing the same role for the past ten years, is unsurprisingly convincing as the ex-MI5 Head of Intelligence Chief, though Harington doesn’t shake off his pretty-boy persona enough to be as affective. Visually, the film is a winner and the silvery-blue aesthetic it’s coated in perfectly communicates the murky winters of London and the aforementioned gritty tone. There’s a lot to commend in Spooks: The Greater Good, but at the end of the day it offers nothing new to the genre and it’s big-screen adaptation just needed to be more daring and step out of the confines of television.
Writer-director Joss Whedon has sure come a long way since his humble superhero beginnings with TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. His entry to the cinematic world of Marvel Comic Universe began with the 2012’s Avengers – a movie that many claim to be one of the best comic-book movies ever – and it continues with its 2015 follow-up, Age of Ultron; an exciting but a slightly-inferior sequel that, despite its hiccups, will still manage to draw in the masses.
Having successfully defeated the mighty-villain Loki, the Avengers have gathered together to put a stop to the Hydra leader, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Kretschmann), and his latest experimental efforts.
See, von Strucker has been testing Loki’s powerful sceptre on a couple of twins, the super-fast, Pietro (Taylor-Johnson) – a.k.a Quiksilver – and the telekinetic, Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) – a.k.a Scarlet Witch, who have been tasked to go after Stark. However, the Avengers manage to defeat the enemy forces and Thor is able to return Loki’s sceptre back to Asgard.
After managing to enjoy a rare moment of peace and quiet, the Avengers soon get a troubling wake-up call with the arrival of Ultron (voiced by Spader); a gigantic robot - powered by Stark’s unsuccessful dig into the world of AI - and an entity determined to destroy the Avengers and wipe out the humankind from the face of the world.
There’s a troubling and occasionally jarring sense of melodrama surrounding Joss Whedon’s latest Avengers adventure and, with two more planned, this entry seems like more of a vehicle to advance the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaving it feeling a little hollow. Nevertheless, Age of Ultron is still an exciting addition and the fans will find plenty here to love; exciting battle sequences, super-cool special effects, plenty of drama and even a new villain. Additionally, the performances – especially of those by Renner and Johansson whose characters get a little bit more of the limelight this time around – gives the MCU much more dept and both Olsen and Taylor-Johnson as the supernatural twins, managed to hold their own.
However, as thrilling as all that may be, the plot feel still feels like a filler for what's to come and the tone wavers in an awkward position between light, snappy wit and an inflated sense of drama, from which the villanous Ultron suffers most. Age of Ultron is not as exciting as its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it won’t deliver at the Box Office.