Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learning to Fly

How To Train Your Dragon
Directors: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
Voice Talent: Jay Baruchel, Gerald Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson
Released: 3/26/10
Viewed in theaters: 3/31/10


*Small spoilers in review!*

When it comes to Pixar vs. DreamWorks, I am always on Team Pixar, but this is easily DreamWork's best work in years. I thought the trailers for it looked really cute and that made me want to see it, but what actually got me motivated to go to the theaters was the 98% fresh rating it received at Rotten Tomatoes. I went to a screening at nine in the evening so I could avoid all the little kiddies kicking my seat or crying. Because I saw it so late and because I saw it in 3-D, I had to shell out a bit more money, but that was okay. It was definitely worth it. (Although, honestly, the movie would have been just as great in 2-D).

The plot is simple: Hiccup is a scrawny young viking lad who only wants to please his father by killing a dragon which is a sort of a rite of passage in the town where they live. He builds a contraption to take down a rare breed of dragon (I can't remember the name) that nobody has ever taken down and is deemed to be very dangerous. He does manage to capture it, but he can't bring himself to kill it. While Hiccup is taking dragon-slaying classes with the other kids in the village, he's also slowing building a bond with the black dragon who he dubs Toothless and learns that dragons are just like pets (in fact Toothless's facial features reminded me of a cat's) who like to be scratched and petted and are playful. Toothless was so adorable too.

There's a reason why dragons are misunderstood, but I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say it involves one giant ass dragon! I mean, this thing was so massive, I have no idea how it could even fly!

The flying scenes were pretty incredible, but they would have been really amazing on an IMAX screen! This was my second 3-D movie (the first, of course, was Avatar) and while the 3-D was cool, I'm not really a huge fan of it. Honestly, I think the 3-D phenomenon is just a phase and it will pass in a few years. At least I hope so. I was more impressed with the actual animation than I was with the 3-D aspect of it: the ocean and the fur on the Viking's vests looked like real water and fur.

I knew I would cry while watching this film and I did. Actually, I cried more than I thought I would. I cried when (spoiler alert!) Hiccup's dad saves Toothless and tells Hiccup that he's proud to call him his son when just in a previous scene he was ashamed of him. Yeah, that got the waterworks going. Thank goodness the lobby of the movie theater was empty when I left because it's always embarrassing when my eyes are red from crying (especially from watching a cartoon!)

How To Train Your Dragon has a great chance of being nominated for a Best Animated Picture Oscar next year, but I'm pretty sure Toy Story 3 has that one locked up. I saw the trailer for that and I can't wait to see it. (I also got a little teary-eyed during it; yes, I am very sensitive!) Giving Oscars to animated films started in 2002 and here's how I would rank the nine movies that have won Oscars:

1. Up
2. Finding Nemo
3. Wall-E
4. Ratatouille
5. The Incredibles
6. Spirited Away
7. Shrek
8. Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
9. Happy Feet

I love 1-4, I like 5-7, I barely remember 8, and I hated 9. If I were to incorporate HTTYD, it would be #3 or 4 on that list. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy this movie!

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