Dragon Rider Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Just in time for the half term here in the UK (not that the kids have been at school to be able to enjoy a break from), Sky cinema have released their own animated movie and for now at least it’s a Sky exclusive.

The easiest way to describe it in a nut shell is that it’s Sky’s answer to How to Train your Dragon, if by “answer to” you actually mean creative re-hash of. Let’s be honest here – it’s really not the most original idea! An outcast dragon who isn’t quite like the others and can’t quite do the things dragons can normally do, goes off and tries to save the dragon kind. Along the way he gets help from the most unlikely dorky human who has no business being on a dragon and comes up against an evil monster who’s also trying to destroy the dragons.

Sound familiar?

Yeah it feels it all the way through the film too.

It’s so hard not to compare it to How to Train your Dragon, even though the story is slightly different and it’s set in today’s time rather than the Vikings time… As a result though you do get a far more on the nose commentary on what humans are doing to the natural world. That at least is one thing they do very well with this movie, before taking it backwards again with a huge step when they introduce the Indian cultural stereotypes. Don’t get me wrong they’re actually the most engaging and fun human characters in the film, but just like the social commentary, the cultural stereotype is also a bit too on the nose.

The humour throughout is pretty slow, and when you do get some real funny moments, they’re usually geared a little more towards adults with jokes about online dating and alcohol.

The final comparison worth making is that the animation, even though it’s much older in How to Train your Dragon, feels a lot nicer in that movie. The characters are so much more stylized and cartoonized that they just don’t feel anywhere near as fun in this movie… I think the fun factor really is where this lags behind a bit. BUT saying that I did find it enjoyable… My 2 and a half year old on the other hand… Not so much.

I really do have to say that I like the animal conservation messages which they have squeezed in to this film – they’re important messages to make, and it doesn’t harm the film in any way – I just kept thinking that I’d like it to be a bit more bright not just looking but a bright and fun feel to it. I think for me this definitely earned it an extra half a star at least… It’s like hiding a bit of carrot in your lasagne to get it in to your kids discreetly.

On the other hand, with your Sky subscription it’s free of charge so how can you complain about that? It’s a nice film to have on in the background during an indoor day with the family during this cold weather.

2 thoughts on “Dragon Rider Review

  1. You do know that Dragon Rider isn’t a ripoff (“creative re-hash” as you put it) of How to Train Your Dragon, right? Dragon Rider is based on the 1997 book of the same name by author Cornelia Funke, which actually came from ideas in one of her previous books, The Great Dragon Hunt, published in 1988. Meanwhile, 6 years later (or 15 years later if you count Great Dragon Hunt), How to Train Your Dragon is based on the 2003 book of the same name by author Cressida Cowell. So although the Dragon Rider movie came much later than HTTYD’s film version, Dragon Rider came first. Of course, I’m sure both books owe much to the extensive history of dragons in fantasy literature. But it’s not fair to call something a “re-hash” when it actually came first.

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    1. Hi Brandon, Thanks for getting in touch and pointing out the information about the source material which I’ll keep here as part of the record so that people can see this as well. I can’t comment on how close each of them stayed to their respective source materials so I’m not going to go in to the plot or whether Dragon Rider could have been changed a little more to depart from the story told in HTTYD. However with HTTYD having come out first in terms of the film I do feel that in this case Dragon Rider could have done with coming up with something else to try and distance itself from HTTYD – although on the other hand, following the success of HTTYD, why would you? That film paved the way for Dragon Rider, serving it with an already wild for dragons audience. As I mentioned for much of the film I enjoyed it, but from concept (which I now know didn’t come from HTTYD) through to the execution it just didn’t feel as fresh as it could have done. The story might have come first but this interpretation / execution of the source material still to me feels like HTTYDv2.

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