How to Tame Your Dragon (the movie)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunday was a good day of geekdom for me. I helped my son roll up his first D&D character (human fighter, for those of you who are curious). Then my husband and I took him for his first movie theater experience: How to Tame Your Dragon. Watching the theater seat try to eat our child started my giggles. His knees bumped his chin. Luckily, he had his daddy to tame the seat monster as mommy was no help at all.

This was my first experience with the new 3D technology. (Yes, I missed Avatar.) The last time I saw something in 3D, I had to use those paper specs with the red and blue film. These new glasses are so cool. They dimmed the light a bit, but otherwise looked clear and normal. Other than making a child look adorable, of course. They were huge on his face. When the 3D part started during the previews, I couldn't resist flipping the glasses up and down to see the difference. Technology is truly amazing.

I. Loved. This. Movie.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I like a good underdog story. Hiccup is the Viking runt of the Island of Berk. Nobody will let him try out any of his big ideas to help fight off the dragons. Against orders, he takes his prize contraption into an attack and hits the fabled Night Fury. But nobody sees his success, only the destruction left behind from the dragons going for one pint-sized would-be Viking hero.

When he finds the entrapped dragon the next day, he can't bring himself to kill it, even though the act would bring him instant fame and his father's respect. He cuts the beast free. The Night Fury could have slaughtered him right there. Instead, he has enough intelligence to make the connection that the boy spared his life. So, he merely roars in Hiccup's face and dashes away.

Over several visits, Hiccup gradually wins the Night Fury's trust and names him "Toothless." Through the budding friendship, Hiccup learns surprising information about dealing with dragons that enables him to subdue them without needing to kill. Before long, Hiccup is faced with obeying his father and killing a dragon in front of his whole town or defending the dragons and getting the townsfolk to understand the reason behind all the raids. And that is not even the climax. Tension just takes off into the sky from there. Hiccup and his peers have to rally together to save the dragons and their fellow Vikings.

The special effects had me as enchanted as my son, but it was more than a Cool Effects movie. It wasn't even just a Cool Effects and Humorous Dialogue movie. (I was giggling most of the movie.) It was a Good Story. There are several plot and character points I want to comment on that I think made this an enjoyable movie for both adults and children. Yes, my writer's hat was still on my head, simply pushed askew by fancy 3D specs.

But doing so would require a fair number of spoilers. I'd hate to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. If you haven't, go now. Run--do not walk to your nearest/favorite theater. I'll be here munching some popcorn, waiting for you to get back, so we can chat about all the cool stuff in effects and story.

A Vulcan steps down

Friday, April 23, 2010

I was working on another book for review, when one of my writer friends, Liz from The Wandering Quill, shared some news about Leonard Nimoy on our writer's forum yesterday. He is officially retiring, hanging up his Spock ears for a well deserved rest. Read this article for more information.

My family used to watch Star Trek every night. I had no interest in such a strange show, which is odd considering I was already hooked on Star Wars. But for the most part, fantasy and realistic fiction had more appeal. Whenever ST came on, I would go to another room and do something else. I'm not sure anymore why I resisted for so long. It was one of the few things my family did together, younger sibs and all. Maybe it was puberty and my tiny bit of rebellion.

Whatever the reason, the day-long marathon as part of the 25th anniversary special wore down my resistance. My mom insisted on having it on the whole time. There are only so many times you can wander through a room with the tv on before you start watching in spite of yourself. I found myself watching Kirk and Spock with the rest of the crew boldly going to strange new worlds. Despite the cheesy effects and Kirk's melodramatic style, something about the themes being played out drew me against my will. Societal issues, what it means to be a friend, and more inspired me.

Before I knew it, I was discussing episodes and choices made by the characters with my mom during commercials. Most of all, the friendship between two very different people, Spock and Kirk, gave me hope that even a wallflower like myself could find a best friend. Hope that I desperately needed. By the time that "Trouble With Tribbles" aired to wrap up the anniversary marathon, which my mom had let my sister and I stay up to watch long past our bedtime, I was firmly hooked on Star Trek, though still primarily to the original crew. Next Gen took months longer to draw my interest.

I have never been one of those die-hard fans in full regalia, attending one or more conventions a year. But in my own way, I am a loyal fan. My best friends when I was growing up were fictional characters, because they showed me what it meant to be a friend, how to handle unusual situations, and that there was a broader world waiting for me. Spock and Kirk were among those friends.

Now Leonard Nimoy has chosen to retire. I can only wish him the best. It's like saying goodbye to a dear friend, because no one else can ever fill his place. He is the only Spock to me. One's best friend cannot be replaced. Nimoy is also a fascinating person as himself. For more about the man behind the ears, check out my upcoming review of I Am Spock.

Live long and prosper, Leonard Nimoy. I will think of Spock in deep cover still, working to reunify the Romulans and Vulcans. Perhaps he will find a young protege to carry on that most worthy mission.