Flying High with How to Train Your Dragon

16-Apr-10 2:48 PM by
Filed under Reviews; 4 comments.

Currently playing in theaters is How to Train Your Dragon, a CGI film based on the first in Cressida Cowell's series of children's books. Set in a Nordic village, the story is that of Hiccup, the Viking chieftain's son who's more intellectual and sensitive than his brawny, boisterous brethren. Their island is constantly besieged by dragons, which come in dozens of breeds, the most terrifying of which is the mysterious Night Fury. When Hiccup secretly captures one of these creatures of myth, he must decide if his loyalty lies with his family or with his heart.

At its root, the tale is a familiar one, with aspects of everything from Old Yeller to Avatar. The main plot focuses on the developing relationship between a boy and an animal, the latter which behaves in ways very familiar to any dog owner. As each character has or is building a relationship to each other, there are no true villains in this story, which makes for some incredibly tense moments: everyone is simply trying to do what's right based on the information available to him or her, sometimes leading to decisions that hurt others. The audience can hope only that everything turns out for the best.

Any film with dragons perforce features plenty of flying sequences, and How to Train Your Dragon's are to die for. There's excitement as rider and beast learn to coordinate their movements, bliss as they experience sights never before seen by man, and tension as the duo act in harmony to save their loved ones. I dream, both asleep and awake, about being able to fly, and Hiccup's experience are some of the most enviable I've encountered — and that's based on a 2D showing of the film; it's also available (as most CGI films are nowadays) in 3D.

The imagery is accompanied by excellent voice acting. Those I recognized were Gerard Butler (300) as Chief Stoick, with bit parts played by David Tennant (Dr. Who) and Jonah Hill. Most notably, 28-year-old Jay Baruchel plays Hiccup with great zeal, imbuing the character with sarcasm, frustration, and wonder.

How to Train Your Dragon is rated PG and is an appropriate experience for parents to share with their children. Some of Hiccup's tactics defy logic, his flying companion ultimately conveys little of the fear found in Tolkien's dragons, and the final action sequence reminds me of Iron Man's. But the conclusion doesn't uniformly leave the village and its inhabitants better than before — an unexpected twist that can prove a valuable talking point for families.


You Say 'Cute,' I Say 'Special'

On his Facebook page, fantasy author R. A. Salvatore commented about this film, "I'm not a big fan of 3D … but this one gets a big thumbs' up from me. The graphics were simply amazing, and the story was charming." I'll add my own endorsement to that weightier one. Will the remaining seven books be translated to film? We can only hope!

The 2007 Hiphop Awards

08-Jan-08 4:58 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off on The 2007 Hiphop Awards

Golden Globes cancelled? Oscars to be cancelled next? Never fear! It is time for Hiphopguy23 to reveal his personal choices for 2007's best in cinema.

Disclaimer: Hiphopguy23 has not seen every movie released in 2007. In fact, of the 500 or so movies released, Hiphopguy23 has only seen about 20.

Disclaimer 2: Hiphopguy23 plans on seeing more 2007 releases, but the movies he most wants to see are currently in that unavoidable limbo between theaters and DVD. Therefore, these awards are subject to change.

With that, away we go!

BEST MOVIE: 300. This is the type of movie that revolutionizes film making, like The Matrix or The Sixth Sense. Expect a horde of rip-offs in the near future.

BEST ACTOR: Gerard Butler. Hiphopguy23 can't decide if this award is for 300 or P.S. I Love You. He plays drastically different characters in both movies, equally effectively.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: James Marsden (Enchanted). If you remember him as the ultra-cool Cyclops in X-Men or the fiance of Lois Lane in Superman Returns, you will be astonished to see him as a cartoonish doofus in Enchanted.

BEST ACTRESS: Keri Russell (Waitress). For someone used to seeing her as Felicity, it is remarkable how effortlessly she becomes an abused piemaker from the South.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hiphopguy23 is torn here. He liked Cheryl Hines and Adrienne Shelley in Waitress and Gina Gershon and Kathy Bates in P.S. I Love You. He might even give consideration to Lena Headey in 300. Hiphopguy23 is going to put this award on hold and hopes he sees a stand-out supporting actress in the movies he has yet to see.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: SiCKO. SiCKO narrowly edges Maxed Out just because it was more memorable. Michael Moore sailing to Cuba to get health care? Hysterical! At the other extreme, if there were an award for Worst Documentary, then the Ralph Nader documentary, An Unreasonable Man, would win. What a bunch of meaningless information that could be found on Wikipedia.

BEST SCORE: Music and Lyrics. This movie narrowly edges out Enchanted just because, nearly a year later, Hiphopguy23 is still singing "I've been sleeping with a clown above my bed."

WORST MOVIE: The Last Mimzy and The Water Horse (tie). Both of these movies were billed as the next E.T. but they should have been billed as the next T.P. because Hiphopguy23 could wipe his [Censored! -Ed]

ONE-TIME BONUS AWARD!

MOST OVERRATED MOVIE: Once. Boy, whenever a movie does well at Sundance, the critics rave about it like it's the next Casablanca. If you really want to listen to two hours of sub-par Irish rock, Hiphopguy23 suggests putting your Sinéad O'Connor CD on repeat.

Well, that's it. Let Hiphopguy23 know which 2007 movies should have won, and maybe he'll actually go out and see them. Ta-ta for now.

See also: Update to the 2007 Hiphop Awards