German author Cornelia Funke’s popular kids’ book is turned into a fun animated adventure set in a world where dragons and other unusual creatures live in remote places that keep them hidden from human eyes.
Unfortunately for silver dragon Firedrake (Brodie-Sangster), the land where he and his fellow dragons reside is under threat, so he decides to try and find the mythical Rim Of Heaven that could be a new safe haven for the dragons. With the help of furry brownie Sorrel (Jones) and a orphaned teen named Ben (Highmore) who Firedrake mistakenly believes is a dragon rider, he sets off across the skies, unaware that they are being hunted by Nettlebrand (Stewart), a metal monster whose aim is to destroy every dragon left on earth.
The movie has some similarities to How To Train Your Dragon – there’s even a knowing nod to that franchise early on, as Firedrake first encounters Ben at a screening of a movie called How To Tame Your Dragon – but the relationship between Ben and Firedrake isn’t quite as winning as that between Toothless and Hiccup.
More interesting is baddie Nettlebrand, who brings some humour and menace to the group’s adventures, with Patrick Stewart delivering the best dialogue with a delicious sneer in his voice, and hilarious wise woman Subisha Gulam and her snack-obsessed husband (voiced by real life couple Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar).
Fans of the novel may be upset that some of the characters and events have been left out of the movie adaptation, but the film does capture the fun and adventure of the book, and is a briskly paced, enjoyable animated adventure that should charm dragon fans.
Is Dragon Rider suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may find the metal dragon frightening, and be upset that the dragons’ homeland is under threat.
There are mild scenes of peril, but the movie should be suitable for the over-6s.
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