How to Train Your Dragon (Review)

Latest 3-D offering's flat narrative doesn't live up to impressive visuals

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On an IMAX 3-D screen, it becomes such an immersive cinematic experience that you become the character riding that dragon — which is fortunate, because you’re probably more interesting than the character riding that dragon.

Based on Cressida Cowell’s book, Dragon follows a young Viking named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who tries to change his history of wimpy incompetence by bringing down one of his town’s marauding dragons with his new invention, only to find he’s more interested in befriending the creature than slaying it. If you tilt your head a bit, you can spot some subversive sociopolitics in the concept of understanding an enemy rather than demonizing it. That would have been a daring angle, but Dragon instead opts for the most overused premise in kid-flick-dom: the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plot about a misfit whose unique gifts are destined to be important and valued by those who once mocked him.

In order to feel fresh, it requires an extra dose of creative energy from the screenwriting and voice performances. Here, the gags and characters just fall a bit flat, including the blandly likable Hiccup. Fortunately, the visual storytelling includes some great moments involving the initial tentative connections between Hiccup and his dragon, and when the action kicks into high gear a viewer fortunate enough to be wearing 3-D glasses is bound to be dazzled.

But I have a dream that one day a movie will combine the best of the 3-D experience with a truly exceptional story. We’ll see something where you feel like you’re flying not just while sitting in the theater with your 3-D glasses on but also when you remember it afterwards. Grade: B-

Opens March 26. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.
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