Past Entertainment

For the week of 4/4/10

RPP at the Movies

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ early standout for 2010 films
By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)

Review also posted at the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

With an overflow of shallow movies hitting theaters in any given year it’s easy for even the most hard-core of buffs to become disenchanted with the experience. As 3-D technology becomes more and more a selling point for studios, the risk increases that elements of a storyline will be shelved for special effects.

Yet, each time I feel a lack of enthusiasm about the silver screen, something arrives that offers a spark back into this critic’s heart. DreamWorks has once again delivered proof that you do not have to sacrifice the tale while making a flick pretty. I don’t dwell on clichés, but “How to Train Your Dragon” is as close as to must see as anything that may come out the rest of the year.

Unfair or not, there is more pressure placed on motion pictures to succeed as the cost of tickets continues to skyrocket (assisted more so by the tacked on fee of 3D glasses), but this movie even earned the $23.00 on two tickets I spent begrudgingly for opening weekend. The story, based somewhat on a book by the same name, focuses on the Viking village of Berk, which has a more dangerous than usual pest problem.

In this village, we meet our main character, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who has not quite figured out a way to properly take down dragons like the rest of the residents, making him a bumbling and costly neighbor. He is a further embarrassment to his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), who is chief and often must act as crowd control when each of his son’s mistakes result in disaster. Hiccup has about broken the last straw through his latest efforts to prevent dragons from destroying his community, but finds a change of fate when he shoots down a Night Fury, the most feared of the creatures.

This movie shares several similarities with “DragonHeart,” minus the talking beast, in that what was for so long an enemy situation suddenly becoming a strong friendship between conflicting forces. Hiccup has the chance himself to prove that things don’t have to stay on the same violent note, if he can only reach those like fellow dragon battling trainee, Astrid (America Ferrera) and his trainer Gobber (Craig Ferguson).

The whole time audiences are pulled in and you root for the hero to be able to achieve his goal and find yourself a part of the world. I don’t even think I would really change anything about it aside from more dialogue from background characters and that’s not so much a suggestion as it would make something so cool last even longer. To top it all, you’ve got the best of Norse and European mythology working together as if written by divine hands.

This movie is one that will appeal to all ages, offering bits for young and old with nothing inappropriate hiding underneath. Sure, some of it might seem sappy, but even the most gushy moments will not overpower the overall hilarious theme.

The 3D effects were a nice touch by the way, but it should be just as fun without it. I’ve fallen out a bit on buying DVDs with Netflix, but this one should also be a great addition once released for personal copy. In the end, “How to Train Your Dragon” is a clean example of doing films right earning it five out of five scorch marks.

Images are copyright of DreamWorks.

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