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This perky animation will captivate the whole family with its gripping story, cute comedy and great visuals that bring to life a mythical Viking era in which dragons live.

Jay Baruchel provides the voice of the film’s teenage hero Hiccup and America Ferrera that of Astrid, the feisty girl he takes a shine to. Both are effective, but it’s the unmistakable Scots tones of Gerard Butler as Hiccup’s warlike father Stoick that really establish an authority and commanding tone.

The plot centres on Hiccup’s seeming success in bringing down and wounding a dragon, whom he then secretly befriends in gaps during his training at dragon-slaying school with the other Viking teenagers.

It is splendidly quirky, mixing a few well-handled sentimental moments with others of delicious enchantment, great excitement and real peril and danger, while tackling the perennial themes of the bonds of friendship, the problems of family ties and the yearnings of young love’s first moments.