Rating: ★★★★★Tangled Poster

Walt Disney Animation Studios has regained its touch and reclaimed its glory. After a decade of churning out animated flicks that only served as a shadow to the works of Dreamworks, they have finally created something that deserves a place in my heart. Yeah, I agree how the latter part of my previous sentence was covered with cheese. But that’s how the movie made me feel – Cheesy. I developed affection for its characters, and I felt the loss in its tragedy. Also, I released a couple of blushes towards its romance. As the loveless chap that I am, I’m usually unaffected by mushy moments in movies, but not this time. “Tangled” is just too darn adorable.

Let me share with you a quick story. My childhood was blessed beyond grace, for it was nurtured by a loving, gentle woman: my mother. As amazing as she is, we abide by the truth that nobody’s perfect, and my dear mother had poor discernment when it came to animated movies. She was numb to the genre; identifying animated characters as nothing more than plastic objects. So you could tell that I was filled with delight when she informed me that she had enjoyed “Tangled”. The makers back at Disney must have done something incredibly right. I mean, even I had a special fondness for the movie, where most of it is directed at its young princess. If Rapunzel ever gets thrown into the real world, like Amy Adam’s Giselle in “Enchanted”, I’ll be the guy to catch her. And now this movie review has extra cheese.

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in TangledDisney’s update on her classic story has some minor alterations and a few additions, but it faithfully retains the essential components. Her hair is as long as we imagined it and the tower is just as imprisoning as we can remember. Stolen as an infant from her royal parents, Rapunzel is a lost princess who’s unaware of her own identity. Because her stepmother slash kidnapper, Mother Gothel, has never allowed Rapunzel to leave her tower, she lives her life in endless curiosity. “Tangled” starts a few days before Rapunzel’s 18th birthday, where she encounters Flynn Rider, a wanted bandit in search of a refuge. When the uninvited Flynn sets foot inside the tower, Rapunzel knocks him out with a frying pan. Their relationship can only get better from that point on.

This is the most I’ve fallen in love with a Disney princess, probably because Rapunzel so greatly reminds me of the girl I secretly like. At the very instant where Rapunzel steps down from her prison, she reveals an enthusiastic sense of wonder that has become so uncommon in today’s people. Her perception is undamaged by the cynicism of this world; she sees things with fresh and eager eyes. And talk about her eyes. Yes, her blonde, magical hair is both an instrument of healing and an emblem of beauty, but it’s her green, puffy eyes that got to me. I would very much like to shake the hands of her inspired animators. Did you know that my mother fell for the boyish charms of Flynn Rider?

Lantern Scene in TangledI think the appeal of the characters has something to do with the mesmerizing artistry committed to the movie’s look. The animation is flamboyant and flawless. The strokes of sunlight and artificial light, when in contact with the broad usage and mixture of colors, add a bright dimension that 3-D cannot match. Along with the alluring appearance of “Tangled” is a narrative of surprising dramatic depth. These two strengths reached its highest point in a wonderfully illuminating sequence involving paper lanterns that symbolizes both hope and heartbreak. During this sequence, my heart melted when I saw her green, puffy eyes gleam with awe and happiness, but enough of my cheese.

I’m disappointed at myself for having neglected this magical movie for an unhealthy stretch of time. Sure, I can make a legitimate excuse by stating the fact that I am physically incapable of watching every movie ever released, but excuses won’t get me far. I must try harder. I have a few friends who keep bugging me to watch movies like “The Shining”, “Almost Famous”, “Spirited Away”, etc. They promised me that these are all excellent movies. I’m sure they’re right, and I better get started.

The Lion King (3D)

The Lion King PosterRating: ★★★★★

With the immediate exception of the prodigious “Toy Story”, my repeated viewings of “The Lion King” were one of the great highlights of my childhood. I preserved my VHS copy with fervent dedication, which I viewed at least a dozen times during the course of my grade school days. I was an introvert youngster with an immense collection of Disney movies. Claiming the title of “Couch Potato” at age five, I cannot deny that I was a spoiled little brat. And yet now I declare that I was not spoiled enough, knowing that I was never taken to see “The Lion King” during its initial theatrical run. Where were my parents when I needed them?

But no worries. Because just this week, at twenty years of age, I have redeemed myself, which makes this re-lease of “The Lion King” a necessary one. That the movie debuted at #1 in the United States last September is no surprise to me at all. And if the movie had to be converted to unnecessary 3-D to make the re-release possible, then so be it. Such an opportunity doesn’t come very often, and only those with closed minds and ungrateful spirits will respond to it with whining and complains.

Overwhelmed with childish excitement, with a crowd of less than twenty people, I watched “The Lion King”. My cheers and laughter were loud and unashamed. The joy remained and the freshness unchanged. And because I have a better understanding of the movies now than I did when I was five years old, I appreciated the movie in ways that my younger self couldn’t comprehend then, or care for. I appreciated the animators that meticulously drew over a million images that comprised all 87 minutes of this movie. I appreciated Disney’s CG department that spent over three years constructing the computer program that made the stampede sequence look as stunning as it is. I appreciated a particular work of Shakespeare that more or less provided the foundation of the story. This is one substantial reason why I believe it’s healthy to rewatch specific movies after long intervals of time.

Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa, and Sarabi

“The Lion King” follows a lot of the traditions of Disney animated movies, but it does so with a bigger heart and a broader imagination. One of such traditions was best elaborated by Roger Ebert in his special appearance by then hit TV show, “Early Edition”. He tactfully enlightens the truth that, in animated movies, the parent(s) of the young animal will be required to suffer a G-Rated death, for the purpose of establishing the hero’s independence. Numerous movies have used this incident, but it is the demise of Mufasa than can be considered the most memorable and heartbreaking Disney Parent Death since Bambi’s mother got shot.

Another Disney tradition that reached a peak in “The Lion King” is the obligatory inclusion of two goofy, funny characters that exist 1.) to comfort the hero with humor and 2.) to guide him with some useful advice. It was Flounder and Sebastian who stood by Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”. Lumiere and Cogsworth were the ones who kept Belle’s spirit up in “Beauty and the Beast”. And it was Genie and Abu who remained loyal to Aladdin in, well, “Aladdin”. These fellas are all wonderful, but I believe that the most beloved pair in this category is the delightful duo of Timon and Pumbaa. These guys have enough charm and wit to raise a lion.

Timon and Pumbaa

I cannot end my review without pouring my praise to the movie’s excellent music. The multitude of songs, which continue to harvest millions and millions of listeners on YouTube, can be separately described as catchy, funny, romantic, enchanting, and epic. Songs like “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata” are among the most celebrated. Anyone who is about my age and can’t sing along to these songs has some serious catching up to do in life.

Also, the movie’s brilliant, mesmerizing, Oscar-winning score was composed by the invaluable Hans Zimmer. Hans Zimmer. A great thing about Hans Zimmer is that people never ask questions regarding scores that are composed by him. When I tell a friend to listen to a piece of music by Mr. Zimmer, they usually just nod their head and obey. Anyone who claims to love movie scores but isn’t familiar with the work of Hans Zimmer is either 1.) just getting started or 2.) lying.

17 years have passed since the initial release of “The Lion King”, and yet it remains to be one of the greatest animated movies of the past half century. I don’t even know why I’m writing this review, but here you go. I guess my recent viewing of it reminded me of that time in my life where I first began to fall in love with the movies. I was born in 1991, and when The Lion King was released three years later, I was its target audience. And now, at 2011, I realize that I still am.

The Adventures of Tintin (3D)

The Adventures of Tintin PosterRating: ★★★★½

Very few movies in recent years have launched a journey more vast and monumental than the one in “The Adventures of Tintin”. It makes its way through Europe, Morocco, and long stretches of sea and sand. It investigates a lost treasure, revisits a forgotten memory, and revives an ancient rivalry. It features several shootouts, a couple of swordfights, and a fierce battle where two towering cranes are used as battering rams. There are car chases, dueling ships, aerial assaults and fist fights. The story involves the participation of a journalist, a sailor, a dog, a hawk, a pair of twin police officers, a pack of pirates, and a pesky pickpocket.

Everything mentioned above was compressed within the movie’s 107-minute running time, yet none a single scene feels incoherent. The events that occur and the characters that emerge all seem to be devoted to the progression of the film’s plot. The leaders of its production, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, are recognized for their competence when it comes to handling projects that are set in the largest of scales. And in “Tintin”, they demonstrate a form of disciplined filmmaking that’s light-years ahead of the man-child minds of Brett Ratner and Michael Bay.

Tintin and SnowyThe story starts out in a busy street market somewhere in Europe. Tintin (Jaime Bell), always accompanied by his trusty dog Snowy, notices a ship model with historical significance. It’s a small-scale replica of a legendary sunken ship called The Unicorn. For a low price, he purchases the ship, unaware of the secrets it possesses. But not for long. When the wealthy and wily Sakharine (Daniel Craig) shows uncanny interest in the model, Tintin activates his investigative skills as a journalist. His research tells him that the rich bastard is after a bountiful treasure no ATM machine can ever contain.

A two-way race is set in motion. Tintin is outnumbered by Sakharine and his men, but he knows that his snoopy attribute and resourceful instincts can get him far. Tintin is one of those kids who prefer to work alone, so it was an inconvenience for him at first when he had to work with the loud and unstable Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). His breath stinks of alcohol; his personality marinated in whisky. We later learn that his brain may contain information vital to the mission, but that too, is drowning in liquor, and is unable to retrieve any memories at the moment. There is a humorous but relevant sequence where Haddock is stranded in the desert, devastated by the thought of having to face sobriety as a result of dehydration.

Tintin and Captain Haddock“The Adventures of Tintin” is a carefully balanced film is the sense that it incorporates the seriousness of a mystery thriller without losing the essential playfulness of animated movies. Its plot-driven approach makes the movie qualified for live-action entertainment, but certain components, like the complexity of Snowy’s movements and stunts, proved that animation was the more practical format. According to IMDb, Spielberg originally wanted to pursue a live-action version until Jackson convinced him to do a motion capture animation instead.

It was only after I saw “The Adventures of Tintin” when I found out that this was the method of animation used. My admiration for the movie multiplied as I watched several “Behind-the-Scenes” videos that showed how all the “Adventures” was shot within the four walls of a studio. Peculiar, isn’t it, how veteran filmmakers are trying new things, and succeeding at it? Steven Spielberg does his first animated film, and sets a new standard for motion capture as a result. Martin Scorsese, with balls of stainless steel, dives into dim 3-D territory, and earns global praise for it. Maybe it won’t be long ‘til Quentin Tarantino receives an award for rescuing the rotting genre that is the romantic-comedy.

Note: The 3-D was an unnecessary addition to an already excellent form of animation. If a 2-D version is available, go for that.


Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet 2 PosterRating: ★★½☆☆

Beneath all the environmental and existential issues that layered the original “Happy Feet” was a subject of equal relevance: the unifying enchantment brought about by music. We were taken to the icy isles of Antarctica, where a kingdom of emperor penguins greeted us with mesmerizing vocal performances worthy of a Santana collaboration. It was established that penguins were naturally gifted singers, so it came as a surprise when one odd little fellow named Mumble couldn’t hit a single note.

No matter. Mumble, it turns out, projects a skill in tap dancing no penguin has ever possessed before. Like Eminem, he was the first of his kind. (Or was it Vanilla Ice?) We felt pleasure seeing and hearing Mumble’s feet produce those catchy beats even though we were pretty sure that it’s implausible to compose those sounds by stomping on ice. His example made it clear, to both us and to his fellow penguins, that music is secluded to no one; it’s a personal celebration that’s best experienced in the company of others. The penguins sang. Mumble danced. We smiled. A Win-Win-Win.

Will and Bill the Krill2006’s “Happy Feet” created a rhythm of splendid joy that is unfortunately missing in this sequel. It aspires to be about a lot of things, but the movie’s structure isn’t designed for an intricate narrative.  It sends a message about the hazards of global warming. It talks about finding your place in your community. And it examines the food chain from the perspective of the members located at the bottom of the list. This is all probably too much for a penguin movie. “Happy Feet Two” becomes so busy trying to send these messages that it often forgets to do what it does best: Party.

The sequel features three subplots, carrying one lesson each. The first one to emerge is the insecurities that trouble an odd little fellow named Eric, who happens to be the son of Mumble (Elijah Wood). A second story comes into play when the penguin nation becomes trapped after a giant iceberg hits their homeland. The third subplot diverts us away from the penguins and introduces us to a pair of krill buddies ardently played by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. The comedy of their characters is standard, but the fun here is the choice of actors who were tasked to voice these crazy krill. This subplot could inspire a Better Movie starring Pitt and Damon as the lead characters in a live-action comedy.

Erik in Happy Feet TwoAs for the music, I felt a lack of singing and dancing, which is probably caused by the exposition required by the stories. I thought that some of the more dramatic numbers were underwhelming. These penguins aren’t that enjoyable standing still in a solo performance when compared to their lively group songs that include some nifty choreography. The songs are hit-and-miss, but I assure an ecstatic climax that will cause the older members of the audience to sing along. The impact of the event purely depends on the strength of the song, but I don’t blame the movie. How can you go wrong with Queen?

So I can’t quite give “Happy Feet Two” a positive rating, but when it comes to movies that showcase Singing Animals, I’d rather see this again than sit through any of the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies. “Happy Feet” wins, both in terms of humor and cuteness. In fact, the young penguins here are so fluffy that, if Agnes from “Despicable Me” went to visit them, she will definitely die.

Puss in Boots (3D)

Puss in Boots PosterRating: ★★★½☆

“Puss in Boots” is both a spin-off and a prequel that expands the Antonio Banderas character from the “Shrek” films. As a sidekick to Shrek, Puss only stood in the background as a portrait of cuteness. Now, he has taken command of the lead role, seizing its privilege by familiarizing us with his diverse life as a skilled fighter, dedicated lover, and excellent dancer. This is an eager and cheerful animated film that humors its way through its vibrant animation.

“Puss in Boots” remains in the same world that’s occupied by Shrek, where fairy tale characters share the same space and time, where The Gingerbread Man could bump into the Big Bad Wolf, where Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella could talk about the Prince Charming in their lives. It’s a delightful and nostalgic concept, one that’s been forgotten by the last two “Shrek” installments. But Dreamworks has recaptured its essence in “Puss in Boots”, reimagining and merging some fairy tales that have occupied the bedtime stories of our childhood.

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill

Consider, for example, the involvement of the brittle, delicate Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). His undamaged shell suggests that he has yet to suffer his great fall. His association with Puss goes back to their early years. (Puss was just a cute little kitty while Humpty was just a cute little egg. You would think that Humpty would have hatched and developed into a chicken by adulthood, but no. He just grew into a bigger egg.) As kids, the two dreamed of acquiring the legendary magic beans, but conflicting personal convictions left them separated. Years pass, and the present circumstances have reunited them with the opportunity to rescue their friendship and conquer their hanging dream.

Rumors reveal that the beans are in the possession of two cruel, homicidal criminals named Jack and Jill. Their appearance in this film doesn’t match the innocent, clumsy pair of chumps we see in coloring books. No. Jack and Jill are constantly angry and discouragingly ugly, which is probably a result of the painful, frustrating tumbles of their early quests for pales of water. It is the goal of Puss and Humpty to take the beans from them. And to do this, they include the sleight of hand expertise of a black female cat named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). A romance between Puss and Softpaws is built up along the way, of course, which is like seeing a furry Zorro and Catwoman in a romantic comedy.

Humpty, Kitty Softballs, Puss

Humpty, Kitty Softballs, Puss

This is very fun. The plot, which is rightfully shallow, is simply a set-up for jokes and references to other fairy tales. But “Puss in Boots” is most fun when it suspends the plot for moments of senseless joy. There is a pleasant scene where our heroes are mesmerized by the fact that they are standing on creamy clouds; they take a break from their adventure to appreciate the awesomeness. Prior to that scene, there is a stand-off between Puss and Softpaws. Instead of engaging in the expected swordfight, the pair duel it out in a dazzling dance competition. This is, so far, the most buoyant animated feature of 2011.

I experienced the misfortune of seeing “Puss in Boots” in 3-D. All nearby malls made it a point that they will only screen the more expensive version. I wish I had seen it in brighter 2-D. 3-D is a complicated technique only reserved for the most intelligent of artists. All I got from the added dimension of “Puss in Boots” was a splitting headache, which is the same kind of pain you would get after tumbling down a hill.


Rio PosterRating: ★★★☆☆

Ironic, isn’t it, how “Rio” uses an outlined plot and a standard story to produce a wacky, out-of-control party where most of its participants either have wings or fur. Humans may have a hard time keeping up with these singing, dancing, rapping animals, especially if two of them are voiced by will.i.am and Jamie Foxx.

“Rio” opens with a lively performance in the jungle. Birds sweep through the air and swerve through the trees. Consistent through the rest of the film, this sequence is bright and colorful. The birds maintain a low height, probably with a fear of being sucked into jet engines. A baby macaw admires the view from a hole in a tree until everyone is interrupted and caged by a group of poachers. How rude.

Fate is very kind to the baby macaw, who later finds itself in the hands of a caring little girl in Minnesota. Years pass. Linda and her pet bird, Blue, are all grown up. Because Blue was captured very early in his life, he never did learn to fly. Linda is not to blame for Blue’s flightless lifestyle. When a bird pushes its baby a cliff, it’s called normal parenting. But when a human does the same thing to young ones, it’s called animal cruelty.


The story picks up when it’s revealed that Blue is the last male of his kind. He shares the same dilemma of extinction with only one other blue macaw, Jewel. She is a female, and a pretty one, too. Experts say they must reproduce. Yet again, fate has been very kind to Blue. The setting quickly changes to Rio de Janeiro, and the party quickly resumes. A few smugglers get involved, only because they are required by the plot. And because of the film’s tone, the villains functions as set-ups to jokes more than anything else.

“Rio” will appeal more to the younger audience, but that’s okay, because they are also the target audience. Most of its concept is assembled from the ideas of previous animated efforts, which the kids won’t mind. Blue’s condition shows an obvious similarity with the hero in “Happy Feet”, a movie where penguins are naturally gifted singers, except for Mumble. Blue struggles with flight while Mumble tries to hit the right note.

Having recently watched “Rio”, which reminded me of “Happy Feet”, I’ve noticed a recent trend where animals are used to play and perform music. So far, it’s been a delightful treat; a treat that channels us to an animated world where Animal Planet is directly associated with MTV.


Megamind PosterRating: ★★★½☆

A city without a hero is indeed a bummer, but for the villain, it could be a catastrophe. Why formulate a nifty plot that will overtake the world if no one out there is good enough to challenge it? Where’s the fun in building an enormous, vicious, dancing machine if no man of equal awesomeness will stand up to it? Megamind (Will Ferrell) knows this feeling all too well.

When he was just a little infant, with skin as blue as an Avatar’s and with a head as large as a papaya, Megamind (Brad Pitt) was sent to earth by his parents right before their planet was obliterated by a natural calamity. Just as we humans are about to complain again about the typhoons and global warming in our planet, we see theirs get sucked into a black hole.

A neighboring planet had the same idea, and a second infant, soon to be famous as Metro Man, travels with small baby Megamind. The two aliens grow up to be rivals in Metro City, and battling each other has become an almost outlined routine. Villain kidnaps the girl. Hero shows up. Beats up villain. Sends him to jail. When villain inevitably escapes, the cycle is repeated. Each citizen seems to enjoy this, except for TV reporter Roxanne (Tina Fey), who is reasonably tired of the clichés.

Roxanne’s response to all this reflects the tone of the makers themselves. “Megamind” both spoofs and salutes the superhero genre with an endless supply of joy and jokes. Superhero and Supervillain politics are executed with self-awareness and innocuous mockery, but things quickly change when the movie allows the villain to taste victory when Megamind was able to make Metro Man disappear.

Superhero Politics

With only one side left standing, a portion of the film shows Megamind in a humorous and oddly thoughtful existential dilemma with himself. “The Incredibles” has already done many great things for this genre, but “Megamind” also delivers some useful insights expertly wrapped in slapstick. The people at Dreamworks specializes in silly humor, which we can find here, but it’s funny how their most acclaimed project, “How to Train Your Dragon”, is the one with the least jokes.

Another signature move from Dreamworks Animation is the hiring of high profile actors. And, as far as opinions go, the cast in “Megamind” is my current favorite. Tina Fey makes more of her Roxanne, which is a role usually used only as an accessory. Besides being pretty, Roxanne is smart and funny, and has a notable influence on our beloved aliens.

Will Ferrell doing the voice of Megamind should surprise no one, who is, as always, over-the-top. When Ferrell finds the right roles, he could be priceless. What does surprise me though, is the man in charge of Metro Man, who is Brad Pitt. We appreciate that Pitt lets out his goofy side that we all loved in “Snatch” and “Inglorious Basterds.” To have seen this as live-action would be interesting. To have seen Ferrell and Pitt as mortal enemies would definitely be interesting.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Rating: ★★★★☆

I like Po’s commitment and enthusiasm. He has gone from mopping floors and serving plates at a noodle bistro to being declared as China’s ultimate protector, The Dragon Warrior. In this worthy sequel, the call is clear for The Dragon Warrior’s skills as China is faced with a new threat. With a joyful spirit and an active appetite, it is of great news that Po is ready for another adventure. Foes should be fearful. Once they hear the first echo of a rumbling stomach, they should start running away.

A new villain rises as Lord Shen, a depraved peacock, plots to end kung fu and take control of China. He has created a special mechanism that shoots fiery balls of fire and metal. So in short, he has made a very powerful cannon. Lord Shen comes off as a more dangerous villain than the one in the first installment because he is accompanied by a vast army of wolves. The structure of the animal kingdom here is interesting in a way that a peacock is able to command these wolves without ending up as breakfast. I guess this is okay, since it would be harder to imagine an evil wolf in charge of a legion of peacocks.

Anyway, while Lord Shen is busy constructing ammo for his weapons, Po is advised by Master Shifu to learn inner peace. But Po is distracted by involuntary flashes from his past, making him wonder about his true origins. Only now does Po really think about how he, a panda, could be fathered by Mr. Ping, a goose. Such questions bother our hero, but those will have to wait; Lord Shen and his wolves need to be stopped.

So Po is accompanied by The Furious Five, and the simultaneous display of jokes and action sequences that made the original so popular is repeated. This is still fun, but it’s nothing more than what the original already did. There are even moments where it felt… less. During the film’s first third, I admit that I was underwhelmed.

My hopes remained high, and I am glad to announce that something wonderful happens. (Remember Po and his quest to uncover his past?) The movie unexpectedly, and conveniently, takes a break from the frequent fights and fooling around. There is a scene of silence and sentiment that saves “Kung Fu Panda 2”, and from that point till the movie’s end, I remained in an impenetrable circle of happiness.

Oh, how I loved the last third of “Kung Fu Panda 2.” All of a sudden, it wasn’t just about the action anymore. We learn to love Po, and not just be amused by him. I think this is what defines a true hero.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Rating: ★★★½☆

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is a treat for children and a torture for diabetics. There is so much food in this movie that the characters literally had to build a dam just to contain all of it. And that was just the leftovers.

Flint Lockwood wants to become an inventor. He knows that the small island that he lives in needs his genius. But nobody wants to listen to his ideas because everything he creates either breaks something, or someone. But then, the island’s economy fails, and its citizens are forced to eat nothing but slimy sardines. Flint becomes inspired, and he decides to construct a food-making machine whose name is never successfully pronounced in the entire film.

This is where the fun begins. Flint’s machine works! Literally, it is raining food. That one sentence is basically enough to describe “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” When that first cheeseburger fell from the sky, I knew that I was about to see things I have never seen before in a movie. Here is an animated film that simply wants to be, how should I say this, savored.

You’ll get to see ice cream for snow, spaghetti for tornadoes, a pool of cheese, pizza boats, liquorish ropes, and pretty much everything you can find in a fast food menu except for the salad. Bulimics would throw up by just watching this.

How to Train Your Dragon

Rating: ★★★★★

Dreamworks, congratulations, you have made an amazing movie. Paying more attention to story and characters rather than to the jokes that can be drawn out of them, “How to Train Your Dragon” has the soothing feel of a Pixar movie. I can’t remember the last time I was sincerely engaged in the obligatory final battle in movies like these where (Spoiler) the underdog hero overcomes the much bigger adversary. (End spoiler)

“How to Train Your Dragon” takes us to the island of Berk occupied by vicious Vikings that are often visited by those unwelcome, pesky, fire-breathing Dragons. Them Dragons keep taking the livestock of the island of Berk, and the Vikings, as the violent bastards that they are, seek to wipe out the Dragons. You see, the earlier Vikings have passed down their fighting skills, and their hatred for Dragons, from one generation to the other. Killing Dragons seem to be a natural, how do I say this, talent, for the Vikings.

This is true for all them until we meet our hero, Hiccup, the son of Stoick, leader of the Vikings. Born into a culture bred with a universal hate, Hiccup is the first one of their kind to question that hate, and look for a more peaceful opportunity. We, as people, have been here for a while, and it is not unwise to think if our generation is suffering the same type of blindness these Vikings are going through.

Before I go any further, I must confess something. I made judgments on the movie when I first saw the teaser. I was disappointed by it. I know- no reviewer, or any other person, should make judgments based on a teaser. Believe me, dear reader, after seeing “How to Train Your Dragon”, I have learned my lesson.

The movie’s first half hour reminded me of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” in its take on the father-son relationship. In both films, the son is the society’s outcast, and will later save that society through his misunderstood genius. But, as the movie grew longer, I realized that “How to Train Your Dragon” is much more. It has characters that will genuinely earn our affection and cheer, and it has emotions that will evoke deep thoughts. And oh, the visuals are wonderful.

The message here is simple, but it is told with such love and care that we cannot help but embrace it and make it true in our own reality. “How to Train Your Dragon” teaches us that we should not be quick to judge. (Even teasers.) A little understanding goes a long way. In this case, it will take you to the heavens.