Impressive, most impressive

I was wrong.  I take it all back.  Well, almost all of it.  Not that long ago, I said some disparaging things about 3D movies.  Today I transcended 3D and watched How to Train Your Dragon in 4D.  Let that sink in. 4. D.  If there is one things that Koreans love, it is doing things bigger and better than everybody else.  Especially if it involves a gimmick.  When Fox announced that Avatar would be released in 3D, the Korean branch decided that its moviegoers deserved a little bit more.  For about a year before the movie was released, several theaters were retrofitted to give a “4D” experience.  What does this extra dimension add?  Time travel?  Not quite, but it was pretty awesome.

The 4D movie experience means that not only is the movie projected in 3D, but each chair is rigged with special enhancements.  When the camera dips and pitches, your seat the the same.  When there is wind, your chair blows air  in the direction of the wind; if something jumps out of the water, you get a little splash.  They have even gone so far as to coordinate smells.  SMELLS!  Is it a gimmick?  yes.  Does it work?  yes.

Of course, it helped that the movie I was was absolutely magnificent.  The only movie playing in 4D theaters right now is How to Train Your Dragon by DreamWorks.  I knew just nothing about the movie going in, other than it was going to be played in 4D.  I don’t want to ruin it for any of you, but this a movie that is worth seeing.

The story follows a young boy who is coming of age in a viking village.  This village is like any other, well, except for the pests: dragons.  The animation in the movie was really top notch.  The vikings look as vikings ought to, big and burly.  The dragons are varied and detailed.  The music was also engaging and well done.  Even the 4D effects were well done.  When the dragons breath fire, you get a burst of air and the smell of smoke.  When the characters fly through the air, you can feel the wind on your face and you dip and turn with them.  Explosions cause an extra flash of light as the whole theater to shakes and rumbles.

Despite the movie’s impressive presentation, the best part about the movie is the characters. They were very easy to relate to; I think most teenage boys have felt like Hiccup, the main character, at some point: alone, awkward and like you’ll never get the girl.  The dialog was delivered very well by the actors, and each one played their role convincingly.  It is very hard to find anything that I don’t like about the movie.

At first I wanted to say, “this could be a Pixar movie” because it was so good.  But it is distinctly different than movies such as Up, Wall-E, and Toy Story; in this case, that isn’t a bad thing.  I admire DreamWorks for taking a different approach to making an animated movie.  They didn’t try to copy Pixar, and instead came up with something that is altogether unique.  If you enjoyed Flushed Away or Prince of Egypt (or if you have any boys), you will have a good time watching it.  The movie is genuinely enjoyable; there aren’t any of the fart jokes or pop references that plague the Shrek series.

In short, How to Train Your Dragon is an excellent movie with relatable characters and stellar presentation.  See it.  Please.  If you are in Korea and don’t mind spending more on your ticket, see it in 4D.  I give this movie 4 and a half breaths of fire.  It is worth seeing in the theater and buying a copy when it is released on DVD; I know it will end up on my “to buy” list very soon.