James Cameron has been schooled -- "How to Train Your Dragon" is the best use of 3D we've ever seen. Beautiful, well-imagined and unexpectedly touching, Dreamworks Animation has a new crown jewel to trump their previous best effort, "Shrek."
The film is set on the island of Berk, where daily combat with dragons is the way of life, until a young boy meets and befriends the enemy, hoping to turn his community from dragon-slayers into dragon lovers.
Featuring some of the funniest rising comedic talent Hollywood has on tap, "dragon" has Jay Baruchel leading the charge as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, a Viking without the bloodlust or battle prowess that made his father, Stoick the Vast, the chieftain of their tribe.
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Stoick, voiced by Gerard Butler in a disarmingly compelling turn that's an amalgam of King Leonidas of "300" and Asterix from the French comics, sends his son to dragon training in an effort to turn the thoughtful young boy into a man, not realizing the friendship his child is developing with the most fearsome of all dragons, a Night Fury, who Hiccup dubs "Toothless."
Utterly engrossing, heartwarming and filled with wonder, the non-verbal communication between Hiccup and Toothless will have every child (and many adults) whining "I want a Night Fury, too!" The flying scenes of the boy and his dragon are soaring and wheeling, taking the you on a ride felt in the pit of your stomach.
Proving the power of both 3D and animation, the world that directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois have created is completely immersive thanks to their outstanding execution.
Fantastic voice talent, great storytelling and stunning visuals would be enough to make "How to Train Your Dragon" a must see, but it goes beyond the expected, becoming a euphoric and transportive viewing experience that can best be described in one word: Magical.
"How to Train Your Dragon" opens March 26.