Tuesday, March 23, 2010
How to Train Your Dragon Sneak Peek
Thanks to Twitter and some quick emailing, I scored a free VIP ticket to tonight's screening of "How To Train Your Dragon" from Animation Mentor. This is a movie I've been excited about since I toured Dreamworks last year and they were showing us promo pics and giving us little hints about it. But I have to admit, judging from Dreamworks' past productions, I had a few doubts. Kung Fu Panda I felt had so much potential, but was just action - barely any character development. Apparently they learned from that and put all that character development - as well as great action - into Dragon.
I started off a bit skeptical in the theater. 3D gets me off on the wrong foot to begin with, because I don't like having something tell me what to focus on, and not be able to focus on anything when the camera pans (forget action sequences) because it's so blurry. So starting the movie with an action scene, while it did throw you into the story, was a bit rough on my eyes with the 3D. But that was the last it really bothered me. The rest of the movie it actually really added to feeling like I was in that world and things were happening around me. So kudos on that.
Also, the texturing was really gorgeous. Sure, there were a few shots where the hairs on the arms were a bit fur-like, but they were Vikings, so I'll give them a little slack. The VFX were pretty good overall - not up to Pixar's par, I have to say, but it was more specific incidences where the fire and water scenes bugged me, and most of the time it still worked for me.
Generally, the character designs and models I found very appealing. A few of the dragon types were unappealing to me and I could feel the Dreamworks style that I don't always like. But I absolutely loved the Night Fury - the main dragon - as well as the general Viking character style (although why Astrid's head needed to be so much larger than Hiccup's, I don't know). Again, the surfacing with the clothes and fur was gorgeous and added to the 3D instead of detracting from it (although sometimes the dragon's eyes felt really flat, compared to the lovely textured skin they had). Also, the Night Fury reminded me of Stitch (probably unintentional since that's a Disney character), whom I love. And the voice actors did a good job of not detracting from their characters, even though I recognized a lot of the voices. Come on, who doesn't love Craig Ferguson?
Most of all, though, is that they had a fantastic story. Sure, it was pretty predictable. But I enjoyed the journey so much that I really just wanted to stay in that world, wallowing in it like a happy pig in a mud puddle; soak it in, savor it. And they really did give you some time to do that - they didn't rush the development parts. Some of my favorite scenes had absolutely no dialog (hello, beginning of "Up"). And the action was strewn throughout so that there were no slow periods in the movie where you were losing interest. I got a little weepy, but I'm prone to that. Mostly, it just made my heart happy.
They also did some fantastic things with the character movements, especially Toothless, the main dragon. I saw things in his movements that I already find endearing about my cats, so of course they were extra endearing in a dragon. Have I mentioned that I love dragons, and would love to have one for my very own friend?
I don't want to talk specifics of the story since I hate when people give away the movie. So I'm just going to say you absolutely need to go see this movie. I know, I'm biased from loving dragons, pride of my Viking heritage, and temporary solidarity with the main character with my limpy twisted ankle. But seriously, I don't know who wouldn't walk out of this movie unhappy - even those of you who don't like animated movies! Trust me on this. I'll be going to see it again, for sure, and watching it over and over and over when it comes out to buy.