Picking up five years since the world-changing events of the first film, How To Train Your Dragon 2 has Hiccup back in the saddle, flying high with his best friend--a dragon called Toothless--and setting out to explore the lands beyond Berk. There, he'll find a mysterious new dragon rider, as well as a batch of dangerous dragon poachers. With the help of his friends, Hiccup sets out to prevent a massive war and set these captured creatures free.
Our theatrical review will weigh in on whether or not this new release is worth your time, while this column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going, complete with a viewers poll where you can weigh in on how you plan to see How To Train Your Dragon 2.
The first How To Train Your Dragon won wild praise for its engaging use of 3D, so you can bet that writer-director Dean DeBlois had a hard-line directive from DreamWorks to be sure How To Train Your Dragon 2 would have a story that would shine in 3D. More dragons, new lands, and lots of flying and action sequences make this sequel perfect for 3D.
Planning & Effort Score
DreamWorks brought DeBlois back after he successfully helmed the first How To Train Your Dragon, a great step in assuring How To Train Your Dragon 2's 3D would be well catered too. Once more, the production team brought in visionary cinematographer Roger Deakins to act as a visual consultant, guiding the animation teams in shots that would not only look spectacular, but also shine in 3D.
Before the Window Score
This is arguably 3D's most gimmicky element, being the one that makes it seem like the movie is protruding at points out into the theater. Despite all the wings and snouts lashing about, I didn't notice much breaking past the bounds of the screen, save for some little elements like flakes of snow or ash.
Beyond the Window Score
Here's where How To Train Your Dragon 2's 3D is at its best. DeBlois and his team dedicatedly created a lush CG environment for their characters, and the 3D gives it an added dazzle. Hiccup and Toothless take us from the bustling, hut-studded, dragon-laced land of Berk to an expansive sea, cut with towering icy spikes, and finally caves with dark corners and a glittery dragon's nest alive with color and motion. The enhanced depth of 3D gives you an enhanced sense of being there among all these beautiful beasts. But you can even pick out its impact as you ogle the carefully created textures of the viking's fur clothing and thick hair.
One problem with the current method of 3D are those darned glasses that inherently make everything a bit dimmer. This can trip up some 3D movies, making scenes that were dark in their 2D versions dingy and hard to watch in their 3D one. However, How To Train Your Dragon 2 doesn't run into the too dark problem, carefully adjusting its cave scenes to be clearly seen. However, I am docking a point because some daytime scenes seem too bright, washing out the colors of backdrops, and making them seem flat, not 3D.
Glasses Off Score
This is simple experiment to essentially see how much 3D you're getting in a given shot. Just remove your 3D glasses, observe the blurs. The blurrier the picture, the more 3D is being utilized. I ran this test a couple of time during How To Train Your Dragon 2, and each time saw a mess of blurs. DeBlois and DreamWorks brought their A game.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can actually be bad for you, causing nausea, eyestrain and headaches. While How To Train Your Dragon 2 might give those with sensitive stomachs a bit of motion sickness--from all its dragon flying POV shots--I suffered no ill effects.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: It's hard to argue with the numbers. How To Train Your Dragon 2 scores very well. The 3D was clearly created with a great deal of care, and the results certainly add to this family friendly adventure's sense of grandeur and spectacle. If you're pumped for this new tale of Hiccup and Toothless, I'd say it's worth splurging on the 3D ticket.
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Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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