Thursday, April 22, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon 3D

I saw How To Train Your Dragon in 3D last night. I had been trying to make it out to the theatre for a few weeks now, and I had worried that I might miss its run and not get to see it in 3D. Thankfully the somewhat lackluster box-office performance of Kick Ass gave me a bit of extra time. A month into its release How To Train Your Dragon is sitting high with a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and so I was fairly confident that it would be worth the $15 3D ticket price. And for the most part it was.

The film is cute. It's by far the best animated feature that Dreamworks has ever produced and yet it still doesn't approach the level of quality of most Pixar releases. The script is sloppy at times and the voice acting could be better, but overall it's a very solid effort. I laughed, I felt a modicum of emotion during the "sad" parts, and I was pleased that I saw the movie. I doubt I'll be much interested in seeing it again though.

The biggest problem with How To Train Your Dragon is that its plot feels underdeveloped. It isn't so much that what happens seems odd as much as the progression from one event to the next doesn't flow adequately. There is often too little justification for the next occurrence, however logical, which forces the viewer to forgive the movie for not using its time effectively. Instead of showing the characters evolving, for example, How To Train Your Dragon spends more time focusing on spectacle. The story makes complete logical sense (relative to its fantasy) but everything that happens feels taken for granted. How To Train Your Dragon does very little to make you care about what's happening but assumes that you will because the archetypal characters are basically good and the dragons are cute. This results in a film that isn't bad but is a lot more superficial than I had been hoping for.

All that aside, the use of 3D in How To Train Your Dragon is absolutely incredible.

This film is one of the best examples of 3D visuals to-date. Not once does the effect call attention to itself, instead merely accentuating everything onscreen. As always it goes a long way in making the fantasy world come alive by giving it tangibility, but what's most impressive here is the visual fidelity. I conferred with my fellow viewers after the screening and we agreed: only once in the entire film is there an example of the "motion blur" effect that plagues so many 3D films. It's even more jarring than usual here and so it sticks out, highlighting the impressive quality of the 3D throughout. It's really just incredible.

Avatar may have had more spectacular visuals but they were generally a lot blurrier than those of How To Train Your Dragon.

I enjoyed How To Train Your Dragon. It's a fun adventure film that unfortunately doesn't have the emotional impact I was hoping for, but does have some of the most impressive 3D visuals I have ever seen. If you like animated films or dragons or have any desire to see it at all then I recommend you go now, while it's still in theatres in glorious 3D. After that it'll lose much of its appeal.


  1. It's a good exercise in showing the sheer cool factor of 3D in animated films, but yeah, I would agree. It's a pretty formulaic plot with typical developments. Boy vs Father Vs Dragons vs Father vs himself. Eh... It's been done.

    There are a few fresh and daring leaps into the complexity of growing up, but they're usually blurred by the spectacle of 3D. This is no UP or Wall-E. That being said, I have no regrets about the film. Without comparison it's a fun and quirky adventure film that has cute moments and really amazing use of 3D. Although. I still can't stand the Glasses they give you. Peripheral vision exists! and distracts me! They've got to fix that.

  2. Easily the best Dreamworks movie you say. Really?
    I`m with you that Pixar movies are far superior. However, Dreamworks movies are all so generic that it`s hard to distinguish them. Look at Open Season, Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar. They`re all the same movie. Crazy animals doing crazy things.

    Thanks for pointing out how terrible Dreamworks movies are. (I still watch every single one)

  3. Instead of assuming that you've seen this...