Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Not Reviewing Inception

I went to see it, you see. And I loved it. But I'm not going to review it. Not yet, that is. I don't feel that I've fully comprehended it. Once I see it again, I'll definitely blog about it.

I mean, I enjoyed Inception. And I understood it. But I don't think I comprehended it. I laid my hands on it, but I didn't fully grasp it. I need to see it again before I can wrap my mind around it. Make sense?

No, instead I'm going to talk about How To Train Your Dragon, which I went to see recently at a budget theatre that has movies weeks after they're released. I went to see it with my girlfriend, who is a huge fan of the film, and her sister, who is also a huge fan of the film. So there was some pressure on me to enjoy it, and I don't function well under pressure. I mean, when I'm pressured to do one thing, I usually end up as far away as possible from that thing.

I didn't expect to enjoy How To Train Your Dragon.

The main reason I didn't want to see Dragon was that it's a DreamWorks Animation project, and before Dragon, DreamWorks Animation had produced exactly 0 worthwhile movies, in my opinion. I know they were behind Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, but I occasionally disagree with critical opinion. I've seen far too many DreamWorks films, and, to be perfectly honest, Dragon was the first DreamWorks project I saw that I didn't feel was a waste of my time.

I don't know why DreamWorks can't craft believable universes--subcreations. I love Pixar films in part because they tend to have unique, fresh, full backgrounds. It's like Cobb tells Ariadne in Inception: to be believable, your creation has to be unique and detailed and consistent.

But Dragon bucked that trend. While its creators still couldn't avoid the patented Dreamworks propensity for anachronistic idiom (Hiccup, the protagonist, is a Viking, and he calls something "cool". No. Just--no.), they successfully crafted a believable universe, rich and--for the most part--consistent.

I especially liked the imaginative introduction of the existence of multiple species of dragon. The way DreamWorks usually handles this sort of film would have had the different dragons be wisecracking, farting, and generally disappointing viewers. By making the different dragons sentient yet mute--and more importantly, analogous to and cooperative with various characters--the creators broke of the normal DreamWorks mold. I can only hope that this becomes a trend.

I thought some of the characters were poorly-drawn, and some of the relationships seemed rushed. But that's a children's film for you. When you're selling to kids, you don't need to craft deep, rich, textured characters--archetypes will do.

Oh, and when Stoick (Hiccup's father, voiced by Gerard Butler) is preparing to enter the lair of the dragons that have been plaguing his village, he goes into Leonidas mode. It's quite funny as an inside joke.

This has been more of a ramble and less of a review, but since when have I been organized or focused?

Long live self-denial!


Neil W. said...

I am kind of like you right now, I am waiting to review on Inception not so I can think it through so much, but because I'm so worried that I may ruin the movie for those who haven't seen it during the course of my review.

Ian the Pontificator said...

That too. It's not particularly groundbreaking thematically, but its simple complexity is mind-boggling.

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