Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dragons, How to Train

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon

Which is one of my favorite film adaptations of a children's book, even though it deviated quite a bit from the original material. It was a great stand alone movie, something I enjoyed just as much as my six year old.

In fact, in the last few years, there have been a number of really outstanding film versions of well known and beloved books. Many of them, like Dragons, are vastly different in their film incarnations, but they all managed to maintain that spark at the heart of the original, such as...

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs starring Bill Hader: DVD Cover

 Really different from the book, except for the concept of giant food raining down from the sky, but it's quick and goofy and fun and just go with it. You might actually have a good time.

Where the Wild Things Are Movie Poster

If you haven't seen this, go find it right now. I've never before sat in a theater with a hundred little kids in absolute silence for 90+ minutes, but there wasn't a tiny eye in the theater that wasn't fixed on this screen from credit to credit. To Mr. Spike Jonze I say, well played, sir. Well played.

 Fantastic Mr. Fox

This film must have been made from my giddy fangirl dreams. Rohl Dahl... check. Stop motion animation... check. Wes Anderson... check, and you'd better not be kidding, because that would just be cruel.
This is just about the perfect kids' movie. And Wes Anderson's artistic direction couldn't fit better with the premise, or the characters.

The Black Stallion Poster

And finally, one of the best of all time. Absolutely pitch perfect, and surprisingly spare and lyrical all at the same time. Strikingly beautiful, thanks to Oscar winning cinematography from Caleb Decshanel (yes, Zooey and Emily's dad) with a wonderful pace set by director Caroll Ballard, and a score by Carmine Coppola (yes, Francis Ford's dad) that is haunting and exquisite. The story is also heroically faithful to Walter Farley's book, with the one exception that they shaved about a decade off the age of main character Alec Ramsey, making him a fifth grader instead of a high school senior.
If you want to start the kids' off right, start them off with this.

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