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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.
Sinking further and deeper into its very own rabbit-hole of absurdity, Taken 3 – the third and hopefully last chapter in Luc Besson’s generally well-liked but unmistakably flawed Taken trilogy – has finally outstayed its welcome. Abandoning logic and pretty much everything that connects its concluding statement to any of its predecessors, Taken 3 disappoints and not even Bryan Mills – and his special set of skills – can save it from its demise.
Directed by Olivier Megaton, Taken 3 takes us to the sunny streets of Los Angeles where ex-government operative, Bryan Mills (Neeson), is adapting to his relatively quiet and uneventful single life. Realising that his daughter Kim (Grace) is no longer the little girl he wants her to be, Bryan continues to look for ways to become a part of her life, while his ex-wife, Lenore (Janssen) – who is experiencing marital problems with her husband, Stuart (Scott) – is trying to become a part of his once more.
It doesn’t take long before Bryan is swung into action when Lenore is found murdered in his very own apartment and, just like Harrison Ford in the Fugitive, Bryan is the suspect. Escaping from the hands of the law, our hero – with the help of some old friends – sets off to carry out his own investigation, in the hopes of finding the person responsible before he’s caught by Agent Dotzler (Whittaker).
Apart from the title and the central characters, Taken 3 shares very little common thread or connective tissue with any of its previous instalments. The Euro-action grit introduced in the first movie is long gone and tension has been reduced to a simmer; a handful of dubious Eastern European, unforgiving plot holes and the over-zealous editing leave the film hollow of what made the previous films stand above the usual action spiel.
Neeson, who allegedly did all his own fight sequences, is still his capable and charming self, however, the improbability of the situations he finds himself in – not to mention the laws of gravity he dares test – fall into typical Hollywood ridiculousness. The ever dependable Whittaker serves to be a wonderful addition to the film, though his talents, along with the story’s initial potential and appeal, are shamelessly underused.
Drawn from Michael Bond’s popular children book-series, Paddington Bear, the almost legendary marmalade-loving character is finally getting the big-screen treatment he deserves in Paul King’s surprisingly entertaining live-action adaptation, Paddington.
The story begins deep in the dark Peruvian jungles where a British explorer named Montgomery Clude (Downie) discovers several members of a rare bear species whose intelligence – involving the capability of human speech and their mysterious love for marmalade – goes far beyond anything he’s seen before.
The bears, Uncle Pastuzo (voiced by Mr. Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Staunton) are soon taught to speak English and are invited to visit the explorer in London whenever they like. Years later, the bears can be seen sharing their happy home with their young bear nephew (Whishaw); however, when a devastating earthquake strikes, Aunt Lucy sets the nephew off on a boat to find the explorer in London.
It’s not long after his arrival that the young bear is taken in by the deliciously bizarre Brown family who name him after the Paddington station they found him standing in. After a few mishaps in his newly-found world, Paddington – with the help of the Browns – sets out to track down the explorer, completely unaware that a museum taxidermist, Millicent (Kidman) has other plans for him.
Polished and beautifully crafted, Paddington is a real treat for the soul and it serves to be a genuine throwback to an old-fashioned style of storytelling that has perhaps been long-forgotten. It doesn’t matter whether you’re familiar with the story or not; Paul King’s tight and visually captivating approach – many will find a certain Wes Anderson type feel set against its quirky imagery – ensure that you stay engaged throughout and its charmingly innocent and witty antics will no doubt appeal to both the younger and the older audience alike.
Managing to embody the innocence, charm and the graciousness of the story’s titular character, Whishaw – who came into the role after Colin Firth was asked to step down – shines and brings an incredible amount of likeability, while the supporting cast, including Bonneville, Hawkins and the enjoyably villainous Kidman, all contribute their immense talents to a story long missing from the big-screen.