Early Buzz: How To Train Your Dragon Might Be As Good As Kung-Fu Panda

I'm one of the biggest critics of Dreamworks Animated films, and a self confessed Pixar fanboy. Kung Fu Panda is the only movie released from Dreamworks Animation that I'm proud to own on my DVD shelf, and I've found most of their other productions to beĀ  filled with unfunny pop culture-infused jokes and uninspired designs/story. And while I was impressed by the concept art for their latest film, How To Train Your Dragon, the teaser trailer left me disappointed (something just didn't gel with the voice acting).

Ain't It Cool head geek Harry Knowles has seen a very early cut of the film, in 3D, and says that the movie is "every bit as emotional, thrilling and fun as KUNG FU PANDA" but at the same time, "completely different." And he assures us that is it "very much a story over gags film, with no potty humor."

I'm glad to hear this as I'm a big fan of Chris Sanders, the director of Lilo & Stich, who is also a credited writer on Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan and is credited with designing the famous three-eyed aliens from Pixar's Toy Story (a bit of trivia most people don't know). Sanders famously left Disney as the company decided to give his "American Dog" a more family friendly make-over. And while I liked Bolt quite a bit (it's definitely the most Pixar-influenced Disney animated film to date) I always find myself glancing back over the American Dog designs wondering what could have been.

Harry mentions a very Miyazaki-inspired sequence that "above all others in the film that sets this film apart" which he compares to the first big flight sequence from The Rocketeer "for sheer joy of flight." He also mentions that 8-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (Shawshank, Fargo, O Brother, No Country, The Reader, and visual consultant on Pixar's WALL-E) has been advising Dreamworks on the visual style of the film, and "it shows". That bit of crew information makes me a lot more excited to see the movie.

Dreamworks Animation had a press day last week in Los Angeles, but alas, we weren't invited to check out footage from the film myself. Maybe next time? For now, you can read Harry's glowing early "review/thoughts" on AICN.