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I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool

Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie Review: "How to Train Your Dragon"


HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
Directed By: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera
3.5 Stars


There are better kids movies than "How to Train Your Dragon," but that shouldn't stop you from seeing it. Vikings, dragons, above average voice performances and above all, 3-D flying sequences twice as impressive as "Avatar" should get you into the theater.

I enjoyed the "Avatar" IMAX 3-D experience. James Cameron has never really let me down. But I have to say, the "Dances with Wolves" story retread bored me. And I found the overall look of Pandora, its inhabitants and even the font choices on the poster to be bit, well, tacky. To put it another way: "Dragon" is the iPod to "Avatar"'s Zune.

There are some kid movie cliches to the "Dragon" story: the main character is a misunderstood, sensitive genius who triumphs in the end, the father loves his son but doesn't know how to express it properly, a bond is formed between the main character and an outwardly frightening but inwardly cuddly beast. Like "Hot Tub Time Machine," this movie's title more or less explains the plot: a group of Vikings have been battling dragons for ages, until one young misunderstood boy learns the dragons are just misunderstood, too.

But man... Those flying sequences! Swooping, gliding, sharply turning, these are the aerial dogfights our grandparents were dazzled with at the cinema, postmodern style. The main dragon, Toothless, bares a resemblance to "Stitch" from Disney's "Lilo & Stitch," which makes sense, considering the guys who directed this also directed that.

Another impressive component here is the female lead -- spunky, tough and arguably the most complex character in a movie filled with archetypes, she's no damsel in distress.

See this thing in IMAX 3-D and enjoy the ride. It's a ton of fun.

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