I'm a sucker for free movie passes, even movies in 3-D and Imax.
That's why I decided to skip the second half of St. Mary's vs. Villanova and take in a preview of How To Train Your Dragon at the local Imax in Sacramento. All I knew about it is that it involves a bunch of Vikings who had their own version of the Olympics. At least, that's what they did during the Olympics coverage.
Actually, it's an adaptation of a kid's book, with some changes to make it more epic and prone to 3-D wonder. It's why the ads include one critic saying some of the 3-D imagery is just like Avatar.
The story is about Hiccup, a young boy who's also the disappointing son of a Viking chief. The tribe has been battling dragons for centuries because they steal livestock and burn their homes. They're very familiar with the types of dragons, but not about the mysterious Nightfury, who's fast and deadly.
Somehow Hiccup brings a Nightfury down, and looks for him the next day. He's supposed to kill the dragon to prove himself. He's also surprised to learn the Nightfuly can't fly because its tail has been injured. Hiccup decides making a friend out of this dragon is a better idea. This is what makes the movie something special. Also, Toothless, the Nightfury, is actually kind of cute.
Hiccup undergoes training in dragon killing with the local teens, including Astrid (who serves as the romantic interest). The tribe becomes interested in Hiccup after he finds ways to fight dragons without a weapon. Astrid is interested, too, but mostly out of jealousy. She soon learns the truth about Hiccup and Toothless...and even why the dragons have been attacking the village for so long. Let's just say they have a bigger problem than the Vikings do.
The voice talent is pretty good, especially Gerard Butler as Stoick, Huccup's dad, and Craig Ferguson as Gobber. Other notables include America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Johan Hill and McLovin himself, Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
Animation is getting even more attention thanks to 3-D. While Up is still the gold standard in 3-D animation, we will get stiff competition from Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me this summer. How To Train Your Dragon is a good effort, especially with the Hiccup/Toothless angle. It's not enough to make podcast king Adam Carolla like dragon movies, which he never has, but I'd like to see what he thinks of this movie when he takes his kids to see it...and he's bound to do that.