Director: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders Release Date: March 30 Review by Tara Judah The skeptics are wrong. 3D is here to stay. It is no coincidence that a large majority of the films released in 3D throughout recent years have been children’s films; The Polar Express (2004), Beowulf (2007), A Christmas Carol (2009), Coraline (2009) and Up (2009) to name but a few, and that’s without mention of the many IMAX 3D educational documentary films that housed the visual phenomena first. But how else could the studios ensure the longevity of such a technology without rearing a new generation on it? The more often that children are predisposed to viewing in 3D rather than 2D when visiting a cinema, the more comfortable and natural the viewing experience will become for them. 3D will do for the 2010s what the Reebok high top did back in the 1980s: make every kid, everywhere, want it. That the likes of Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks are fore fronting the so-called ‘3D Revolution’ ought really tell you just about everything you need to know. Dreamworks’ latest, How to Train Your Dragon (2010) hit cinemas at precisely the right time. Most of the backlash against 3D has died down and, in the realm of children’s films at least, is all but forgotten. The gimmicky use of 3D seen in earlier films such as The Polar Express (heavily slated in its critical reception) has all but vanished from the new wave of 3D film. The newer and gentler induction into 3D viewing is seamless and immersive, just as it was always wont to be. How to Train Your Dragon is a typical and in many ways exemplary product from big bucks studio Dreamworks. Like Shrek 2 and Madagascar before it, it’s a children’s film that, whilst aimed primarily at children, is suitable for adults. It tells the story of Hiccup, a young Viking boy who just doesn’t fit the mould of his Viking forefathers; his sensitivity and fragility, his physical weakness and clumsiness, his overall demeanor, prevents him from taking part in traditional, valorous Viking behaviour, namely, fighting and killing dragons. Living on a small island where dragons are something of a pest, Hiccup’s only chance to gain the respect of the villagers, the love and pride of his father and the attentions of beautiful blond Viking girl Astrid, is to slay the most dangerous of all dragons known to Viking: the Night Fury. But somewhere along the way Hiccup discovers that dragons aren’t all that different to Vikings. Befriending the very cute and somewhat dog-like Night Fury, which he names ‘Toothless’, Hiccup must overcome adversity and the stubborn old rules that the villagers live by. The animation is well drawn, alternating between achieving verisimilitude and looking like a cartoon just as often as it cuts from establishing shot to close up. The various dragons are imaginative and for the most part amusing for their ‘cool’ abilities, including a two-headed one that could stand in for a lighter; one head breathes gas and the other sparks it. There is one dragon though, the apparent queen of them all, which is both menacing and dinosaur-like in its appearance that could potentially frighten its younger audience. Offering itself as a modern day fable, How to Train Your Dragon promotes tolerance and understanding above blind warfare and offers misunderstanding as the ultimate villain. Beautiful and enchanting, it recalls the magical world of The Neverending Story (1984), leaving adults to wonder what it might have been like to see Falkor soar through the air in 3D. And right there, in that moment of recollection, the adult viewer is too being re-conditioned to take on 3D as an enhancive technology and not just a gimmick. 3D is here to stay so we might as well embrace it. Photobucket