"How to Train Your Dragon" was one of the best 3-D films of the last year. It was shot using the new technology - unlike many other films that were converted from 2-D to 3-D - and it took advantage of it, giving filmgoers a glimpse into what the future might hold for movies.
But while you won't be able to watch "Dragon" - which comes out Friday - in 3-D on your DVD player (it only comes out in 2-D), it is still an enjoyable family- friendly animated action- adventure. It has a young hero, a Viking lad known as Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), who unlike his muscled dad (Gerard Butler) is more of a thinker than a sword wielder. But dragons have long plagued the land; so Hiccup is sent off to dragon-slaying school anyway.
Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders and based on a popular children's book by Cressida Cowell, "How to Train Your Dragon," however, isn't about war but offers the sweeter message of learning to get along with others. That includes Hiccup's fiery love interest (America Ferrera), crusty but lovable teacher (Craig Ferguson) and goofball friends (Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But mostly he learns to come to an understanding when he comes across a jet-black, cat-eyed dragon named Toothless - very cute.
The film soars, literally, in the flying dragon scenes, reminding you of similar moments in "Avatar." Like that film it is willing to let the visuals - along with an expressive score by John Powell - do the talking. A third dimension on video would have been nice, but it remained a fun, satisfying kids' film anyway.
Tilda Swinton stars as an unhappy and unfulfilled Russian wife of a Milanese industrialist and mother of three adult children in "I Am Love." From Italian director Luca Guadagnino, the film has elegance and scope that bring to mind films by Luchino Visconti and Douglas Sirk, weaving together political and domestic soap operas.
Swinton's Emma has her passions awakened by a friend of her son, a chef who literally brings a surprise cake. Stories of women who have discovered themselves are nothing new, but "I Am Love" stands out for two reasons: Guadagnino's unwavering commitment to his sudsy story, lavishing it with colorful cinematic touches, and Swinton's equal commitment to her flighty character.
That may not be enough. For most of "I Am Love," you'll feel like it's a grand banquet, but it's a bit more like a tasty pastry that you overindulged with.
Missing the story
Another comic-book adaptation, another comic-book adaptation that misses the mark.
The filmmaker who made "Jonah Hex" seems to have had no idea where to go after its guns-ablazing opening. The story of a disfigured gunfighter (Josh Brolin) seems to have been lost on the editing floor.
End of the road
You can say goodbye to two TV series. In "The Tudors: The Final Season," Henry gets fatter and loses some of his sex drive. Not so for one of his wives, who loses something else. Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse," which tried to be sexy and provocative, had been thought dead at the end of the first season; so its shortened second season was just a bonus for fans.
Worth another look
Three older films to check out are Criterion's editions of Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited" (2000) with Owen Wilson, and Ingmar Bergman's "The Magician" (1958), starring Max von Sydow; as well as Basque writer-director Julio Medem's "Sex and Lucia" (2002), an offbeat love story starring the luminous Paz Vega.