Posted on 7/20/10 12:41 PM
Note: I'm currently working on my Inception review but since there has been such a huge wave of reviews for it I'm holding off on posting it until its completely polished and all the other reviews slow down a bit. Until then this will have to suffice. Thanks for reading.
What is wrong with me? Why didn't I love this movie? Everyone else adores this film but I just thought it was mediocre. Did I miss something when I was watching it? I went in to the theater expecting to love this film, I went against my nature and payed for 3D, and I was ready to see the first film that could supposedly give Pixar competition. When I left I was in shock, this was the movie everyone was going nuts over? It was so riddled with cliches and was so generic in every way that I couldn't draw myself to recommend it to anyone. Honestly, I want to know what I missed here. The film I saw had a generic plot that did nothing new or creative with its premise, had cliched lead and supporting characters, and looked decent for a Dreamworks film but still couldn't touch Pixar's level of animation quality. What was I missing? I'm not sure and maybe you can tell me but for now I'm going to review one of the most overhyped movies of the year.
Don't get me wrong I don't mind a well worn premise, look at Ratatouille. Pixar managed to take a overused story line (son isn't understood by his community but in the end saves his family and friends using his unique talent) and fill it with unique characters and some great humor that made what should have been a blemish on Pixar's record one of the best films they've ever made. Dragon doesn't do this, it merely goes through all the steps of this plot without adding anything new or noteworthy to the mix. Dragon's characters are also almost entirely forgettable though not entirely because we've seen all of them before in other films. We have the misunderstood hero (usually a skinny nerd kid) then we've got the jock (in this case its a girl), and those are followed by some goofy characters (a set of twins, another nerd, and a bully) that are almost all forgettable. If I got any of the characters wrong or left one out don't blame me, I barely remember them at this point.
So now we've got a cliched plot and some bad characters so maybe the animation quality can save the film from utter mediocrity. Unfortunately as you may have already guessed it can't. The animation isn't necessarily bad but its just so ordinary, it doesn't have the wow factor of Up's thunder storm and jungle scenes or of Toy Story 3's thousands individual pieces of garbage slowly sliding towards a billowing fire pit. It looks like every other animated movie released this year. However Dragon may still have one saving grace if the critics and fans are too be believed; the flying scenes supposedly rival Avatar. Of course since I haven't seen Avatar I can't compare but if Avatar's flying scenes are anything like Dragon then I have one more reason not to watch Avatar. The flying scenes are nice but I wasn't blown away by them (and yes I was watching in 3D).
The 3D is another problem I have with the film, maybe I'm not used to this new kind of 3D but it seems to me that if I'm paying for a third dimension I should have stuff being thrown out of the screen at me. Sure its a gimmick but its better than paying extra money just to have the movie come slightly out of the screen to add depth. I seriously felt cheated after walking out of this film, I barely noticed the 3D and would have preferred to spend the extra cash I spent on it buying the Inception soundtrack.
So all in all How to Train Your Dragon isn't an awful film, I remember laughing maybe once or twice and it was a nice diversion for a couple hours but a masterpiece? Far from it. Dragon has received a lot of hype and many have suggested that it deserves an oscar. Let me just say this, if How to Train Your Dragon wins an oscar over the far superior Toy Story 3 I will lose all remaining faith I have in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. How to Train Your Dragon is a far cry from the greatness many have claimed that it is and in the end is just another addition to the subpar catalog of films Dreamworks throws out in their pathetic attempts to dethrone Pixar.