Cannes Dispatch 2 – How To Train Your Dragon, Cannon Films And The Captive

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Craig Skinner writes for Bleeding Cool.

In celebration of 20 years of Dreamworks we were treated to something a little different in the Grand Theatre Lumiere in Cannes this week, with a special screening of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

This sequel to the highly popular 2010 film is a thrilling follow-up and far greater in many respects. How to Train Your Dragon 2 builds on the mythology of the first film and branches out in a variety of new directions. The story is far wider in scope than the first, more of a full meal to How to Train Your Dragon’s aperitif, and the action in this sequel is even more extraordinary.

The animation has improved a great deal, with the exhilarating flight sequences being the main marvel, but small details in Toothless’ design also impress. His skin is more textured, for instance, and I don’t know quite how they’ve done it but they’ve actually made him even more God damn adorable.

The human characters don’t necessarily fare quite so well, with faces that I never quite warmed to, but I’ve never been a fan of the way in which Dreamworks animate the faces of their characters. This could well come down to personal taste though.

One thing that I do rather like though is Egoyan’s latest, The Captive. Whilst The Captive may well be the least liked of all the competition films so far, I have a rather significant soft spot for it. It has, without doubt, a number of flaws – mostly in a few of the visual ideas that Egoyan seems to be trying out that fall a bit flat – but there is also a great deal of inventiveness to be found in all these areas of experimentation.

The majority of this is clearly done with a great deal of purpose and forethought though. There is a creeping, unsettling vibe to the picture that works incredibly well at times – an abduction scene early on is horribly wonderful – and this mood setting really helps make the rather unremarkable plotting seem far more interesting and unusual.

A heightened approach from Egoyan and a rather impressive score help make this a somewhat unforgettable experience, a unique and esoteric approach to rather over-familiar subject matter.

The Cannes Classic strand has an incredibly strong line-up this year and as with previous years they have also included a couple of docs which centre on a subject related to films.

The two this year are Life Itself – which focuses on Roger Ebert and is a film that I hope to see later in the week – and The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films.

The Go-Go Boys, interestingly, actually focuses not so much on the films produced by Cannon Films but instead lives up to the title and is more of an inside look at the men behind the company for many years, Israeli-born cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.

The film explores the passion that made them so successful in the film industry, but also shows us the price that this dedication had on their lives and their families. It’s a highly engaging and occasionally rather touching doc about a film studio that may have given us Missing in Action 2: The Beginning but also financed and pushed hard for John Cassavetes Love Streams.

I’ll be back with further updates soon but until then you can follow my adventures in Cannes on Twitter @cskinner.