April 2, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon

Sometimes I'm asked what the most important invention in human history is. Before I moved to Seattle I used to answer air conditioning, but antibiotics are right up there and I'm also fond of the Internet. When I was a kid I used to do stop-frame animation with my Super-8 camera, so it's fun to see animation technology keep advancing as we creep closer, ever closer, to the era of the home holodeck.

How To Train Your Dragon, seen in 3D at Gold Class Cinema, gets pretty damn close. A coming-of-age story about a scrawny freckled intellectual boy in a land of burly Vikings (who for some reason speak with Scottish accents), its 3D effects seem natural and lifelike and enhance, rather than distract, from the movie's charming message: instead of making war against those we don't understand, we can live together in harmony and enslave them.

With dragons flying out of the screen and pieces of ash dropping down seemingly in arm's reach, 3D has moved from gimmick to genuine technological advance. Home 3DTVs are already here, waiting for the content to drive their sales. The studios are churning out children's movies at a pretty impressive rate, but traditionally it's the porn industry that drives home-entertainment technology, and potential 3D offerings may bring a whole new meaning to the term "train your dragon."

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