Review: How To Train Your Dragon
Hundreds of children - and their parents - laughed, gasped and looked on in wonder as winged beasts and Vikings took to the skies. Not real ones, but close enough: How To Train Your Dragon - Arena Spectacular has finally arrived in Auckland.
And it was well worth the wait.
For fans of the 2010 animated DreamWorks film of the same name, the show's premise will be familiar. Those who haven't seen the film need not worry. From the creators of last year's Walking With Dinosaurs, How To Train Your Dragon is an adventure for the entire family and is worth every cent.
The story follows Hiccup, the son of fearsome Viking chieftain Stoick the Vast, who lives in the small but proud village of Berk and is desperate to make his father proud. The only way Hiccup believes he can do this is by capturing and killing a dragon - any kind, it just has to be a scaly, fire-breathing beast with wings.
What Hiccup doesn't anticipate is capturing a Night Fury, one of the 10 different species of dragons featured in the live show. No-one has ever seen one and lived to tell the tale, Gobber, Hiccup's mentor, points out early on. When Hiccup successfully ensnares a Night Fury, no-one in the village believes him, not even his own father, who is more ashamed of Hiccup's "lies". He's then forced into the village's dragon-killing academy to teach him what a "real viking" is all about.
Things get complicated when Hiccup befriends Toothless, the dragon he shot down, and soon the two are inseparable, soaring through the skies and sharing a meal of fresh (uncooked, mind you) fish. Yum.
Along the way we're introduced to several other dragon stars of the show, who each have their own personalities and perform scary but sometimes chuckle-inducing party tricks. One dragon expels glitter from its... You-can-guess-where, which certainly got hundreds of kids in the audience laughing.
The cast and crew have obviously put hundreds of hours into perfecting the show and should be proud, as they have created a first-class production. From lasers and sky-high acrobatics, this show takes you from the high clouds and mountains, to the lowest points of the viking world, including an underwater cavern where the entire arena is speckled with bubbles. Flames shoot out from different parts of the arena, startling many as the fire is so hot you can feel it warming your face, and a slight breeze is felt when Hiccup and Toothless take to the skies.
There are plenty of laughs to be had throughout the show but it has to be said some of the larger dragons are absolutely terrifying, so it's probably not a good idea to take small children, as dozens of parents soon found out.
Dragons is a show with a lot of heart and a great story at the centre of it, with plenty of action to keep the kids entertained these school holidays.
How To Train Your Dragon - Arena Spectacular
At Vector Arena, Auckland, until April 22.
Tickets from Ticketmaster.