Check It Movies: How to Train Your Dragon

First off, Roger Ebert is nuts. And he’s straight out wrong by declaring war on 3-D movies. Um, dude, have you even seen one? Maybe you’re among the minority of people that it does give nausea and headaches to and I’m really sorry for that but to demonize a new viewing experience because it weirds out your inner ear. But basically, I’ve lost confidence in you as a movie critic after you reviewed Gladiator as a dirty looking movie. Because we all know how clean things were in Roman times, especially for the fighting soldiers.

We didn't mean to break your 3D glasses with our battleaxe, Mr Ebert!

By his comments, I would swear that he hadn’t seen a perfect 3-D movie like Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon. But according to his site, he has seen it, although he cowardly refuses to offer up which version he saw or to even admit that he critiques all 3-D offerings against their 2-D ones without actually watching both to see the differences film by film. Having seen many popular films in IMAX versus traditional film, the experience IS different, even with the nerfed versions of IMAX theaters popping up.

But I trust you to read Ebert’s tirade and judge for yourself whether technological advancement is evil to film (Star Wars, anyone? Heck, Lawrence of Arabia, anyone?). Do I agree there is a lot of crapola being released with high ticket prices? Yes, I suffered through the 3 hrs of Avatar and thought its visuals were worth it. Until I saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D IMAX. Then I wanted those 3 hrs of my life back. But I also want the two hours Roman Polanski robbed me off with his crap The Ghost Writer. Here was a so called film legend resorting to using Ewan McGregor’s butt as a gimmick in his film. Gimmicks do not replace storytelling. No matter how nice a bum it is.

So when reading Ebert’s review of How to train Your Dragon, I was stunned that it was mean-spirited, like that cranky old geezer down the block that won’t go into his backyard to fetch the errant wiffle ball. Shame on you, Roger. We take away your rights to review young, fun, cool movies.

The moment I saw the preview, I wanted to see this film. It so reminded me of the storyline from Avatar, I hoped it might actual do the story some justice. And boy, did it ever. There was more characterization done in the opening 15 minutes of Dragon than are in the entire Avatar film. Hiccup, the story’s young bumbling but brainy hero, is struggling to live up to his father’s high expectations and be a proper brave, dragon-slaying Viking. But as often happens in this kind of films, a chance encounter with his own success, proves that Hiccup is not that kind of person. (You might swear that the voice of Hiccup is provided by Christian Slater but Jay Baruchel provides the perfect voice for our hero.)

What follows is charming fun as Hiccup begins to ace his dragon fighting lessons by learning more about the very creatures his Viking culture has fought against for centuries. (Sound familiar yet?) In doing so, he must become the voice of the dragons and help bridge the gap between beast and human to seek a new way forward.

No it’s not an original story you’ve never heard before and you can probably guess the ending but you can surely enjoy the ride. Voice talents from Gerard Butler as the Viking leader (and Hiccup’s dad) and Craig Ferguson (the affable blacksmith and dragon-fighting trainer) provide the perfect fit to this retelling of a classic children’s anthem: be true to yourself and others will see your worth.  

And as to the 3-D? The film’s water scenes are stunning and the flying, woot! So how can that be bad to a film experience, I ask you! During one particular scene where Hiccup gets hit in the head, I heard one youngster pipe up, “That’s gonna hurt!” He was obviously enjoying his viewing experience. And so did I. Dreamworks pulls your heart strings and puts out another action-packed but friendly and fun charmer that will entertain.

So screw Ebert, check out How to Train Your Dragon with your ugly black 3D glasses firmly in place. You’ll enjoy the ride!

Another 3D Charmer: Alice in Wonderland. I watched this one in IMAX twice, once sitting next to Alice herself and her friends. Amazing what a great storyteller can do with the right cast and canvas.

Other animated fun: Some of my favorite animated films are Up!, Tarzan, The Incredibles, and Mulan. These are all kid-friendly although better for different ages.

Animated but not so nice: Ghost in the Shell in 3D would be so awesome, it would redefine awesomeness. Someone should try and make an anime 3D. Although, not sure that’s possible…yet.

2 thoughts on “Check It Movies: How to Train Your Dragon

Add yours

  1. Ooh, nice! I’ve heard so many good things about this movie that I might check it out, although I’m done dishing out 10+ bucks for a movie for a while…
    I don’t really get Ebert’s attitude: he starts by blaming the movie as made-for-video-game fodder, which I believe comes from the simple fact that the movie looks like a video game because of its… wait for it… animation style. I hope he blasted the Harry Potter-movies in a similar manner, because those had plenty of flying in the air, too. His “back in the day, the heroes were teenagers, not little kids” is also so wrong… What about E.T.? The Goonies? Geez, Ebert–at least try to look like you don’t have some personal beef with this movie…

    By the way, I’d like to add the Most Wonderful Movie in the World to your animation list: My Neighbor Totoro (and try to find the subtitled version, because the original voices are so good). Not only is it my favorite animation ever, but also sits tight in my Top 5 movies of all times -list. I can re-watch it over and over, and I never get tired of it. Unlike Disney films, which often have questionable teachings and a lot of finger-pointing (baddies are bad, goodies are good), Totoro just… is. There’s no bad guy, except for issues that are not tangible (fear of losing your family members), and the good characters make mistakes. Hayao Miyazaki’s movies are wonderful in general–just don’t get the Grave of the Fireflies (you’ll bawl your eyes out).

  2. I haven’t seen Totoro! Sounds like a Must-See! Just watched ‘9’ tonight on Blu-ray, pretty good stuff, altho I was hoping for a bit better from a Burton-Bekmambetov produced animated film.

    I think Ebert has a beef with all films now. And his review of The Girl with the Dragon tattoo? When commenting on a likely Hollywood remake, he says he respects Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame. UGH!

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