4/17/2010

How to Train Your Dragon


Ahleena, originally uploaded by Patrick Cowsill.
My wife and I took last Tuesday off work to celebrate our daughter's third birthday. We had already delivered her to Liu Fu Chen Amusement Park (where the above shot was taken), but we were both itching to do something more. We decided to see the 3D How to Train Your Dragon. This would our daughter's first trip to a theater.

I'll just start by saying this film was much better than the other 3D film we saw this year, Avatar, which was pure crap. Let's get that out of the way right now. First, How to Train Your Dragon didn't have any corny speeches and it was not littered with corny dialogue. It didn't have the usual plot cliches, like the bad guy who just doesn't know how to die and wants to kill right up to the end. It didn't have good-old-boy caricatures, the usual twits trying to pull off a rustic American charm of let's-get-this-done-even-though-we're-really-not-that-bright because being dull and smiling all the time wins out. Why do filmmakers fantasize about this stuff?

Instead, the protagonist, Hiccup, doubts himself. He knows he doesn't fit in with his Viking clan, a point that's stressed by his lack of a Scottish accent, which separates him even further from everyone else in town. What does Hiccup do about it? Does he overcome? Does he simper that nobody understands him? Nah, he goes off with a dragon and does his own thing, fretting all the while that he's gonna catch it if anyone finds out.

My family saw How to Train Your Dragon at the Ambassador Theater in Hsimingting (西門町), Taipei, which is renowned for sound quality, a good thing if you have noisy kids because no matter how loud they are, it gets drowned out. Just a couple of points on the Ambassador Theater (國賓影城). Even though How to Train Your Dragon is a childrens' movie, an animated film no less, the Ambassador Theater does not provide child-sized 3D glasses. Child-sized glasses exist and are out there. Miramar, for example, was offering three different sizes when my colleague took his son. Such stinginess and lack of foresight on the part of the Ambassador did, however, cost them in our case as we had to exchange our daughter's pair several times. After around 20 minutes of pushing them up on her face, again and again, with butter-smeared fingers from eating popcorn, she simply wasn't able to see the screen anymore. And I couldn't eat any popcorn (and thus want to buy more) because I was occupied securing them on her face.

My daughter's third pair of 3D glasses, which also totally engulfed her face, suddenly slipped off her tiny nose and smashed to the floor, taking out a lens. I'm told they're US$40 too. When I went to get a fourth pair, I was greeted with the Grand Inquisition. "I'd be happy to answer your questions," I told my interlocutor. "Are you going to pause the film?" A few minutes after returning to my seat, an Ambassador employee was also inside, with a flashlight six rows down, looking for the lens. I mean really. You're playing a kiddie movie and charging NT$350 a ticket, but you don't have any kiddie-sized glasses. What do you expect?

It's still a great movie. If you are a kid-holder, which I'm guessing most people plainning to see How to Train Your Dragon are, avoid the Ambassador Theater in Taipei's Hsimingting (西門町) district.  Call the place you're headed to. See what's what in terms of 3D eye wear. Then go and have fun.

3 comments:

CreditWarrior said...

Ahleena is the cutest kid I've ever seen. She looks smart too. Like she won't take any bullshit from anybody. I think she's gonna grow up and be protecting her mom and dad someday. hehe :oD

Kaminoge said...

That's a great picture of your daughter!

Carrie said...

That's a great picture of Ahleena. What a little poser. :)