REVIEW: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’ Shows the Franchise Still has Heart

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How to Train your Dragon 3

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the third installment of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. The fantasy world of the franchise began in 2010 when we were introduced to a world of Vikings and dragons. With the voice acting talents of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristin Wiig, and even Cate Blanchett, the third installment is definitely a good closing to the trilogy.

In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, we see Hiccup (Baruchel) living in Burke, saving dragons, and a little stagnant after the death of his father, Stoic (Butler,) in the last movie. Burke has transformed into the place of Hiccup’s dreams but dragon hunters continue to threaten their way of life and the dragons under their care.

The film is centered around Hiccup becoming true to his position of Chief and accepting what that means. Marrying Astrid (Ferrera), taking care of his people, and keeping Burke safe. When Toothless meets a female Night Fury, what Astrid dubs Light Fury, Hiccup must learn how to live without his best friend and put his dragon’s needs first like Toothless has done for him countless times.

All of this happens as Hiccup and the Dragon Riders are running from the villain named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) in search for the Hidden World, the dragon utopia, to save their dragons and stop him from finding it first. The film is packed full of beautifully designed dragons, landscapes, and new armor.

That being said, quite a bit of the plot is revealed in the trailers, but it’s important to note that the movie still packs an emotional punch, especially for fans of the series who have seen the past two movies and six seasons of the Dreamworks television show on Netflix. The lives of the characters have a lot to do with that.

Hiccup fights doubt, Astrid remains the best fighter and emotionally mature of the bunch, and Toothless has finally realized what it means to be the last of his kind and we get to explore him outside of Hiccup which is surprisingly full of emotion even without dialogue. However, the other Dragon Riders, Snotlout (Hill), Fishlegs (Mintz-Plasse), Ruffnut (Wiig), and Tuffnut(Justin Rupple,) fall to the side. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if Dreamworks hadn’t released six seasons of a show that gives us arcs and growth for each one of them.

Even though the characters have aged from the first movie to the third, they still are unable to complete missions, and some characters have reverted to their clueless selves from the first movie. This probably won’t affect viewers who haven’t watched the Netflix series, but for those who have, it’s a little rough to watch the team go back to their bumbling ways.

With that said, the animators also seem to have changed the characters’ designs from the second movie. However, instead of looking older, when coupled with their actions, it’s hard to see them as having progressed past the events of two. With the exception of Fishlegs, and the twins, the Dragon Riders — Astrid and Hiccup included —  look the same age as their How to Train Your Dragon 2 counterparts, and in some scenes younger.

But I can take that small gripe because the design of the Hidden World is beautiful, luminescent, and something entirely unique to the franchise. The lights, the colors, and the way the dragons interact with the environment of the Hidden World is top notch. Plus, the animation seamlessly transitions from lighthearted fun to dark and sad as the story progresses.

Now, I won’t spoil the ending but it is good. There are some endings to trilogies that leave you with all the wrong questions. Most endings are vague so that studios can milk franchises for more films, but this film ends the series so well that I’m worried that I won’t get a new series on Netflix, yet I’m okay with it.

When it comes to animation, almost everyone talks about Disney, but with the How to Train Your Dragon franchise it’s easy to see that Dreamworks has the narrative and animation strength to compete with the likes of Pixar, so long as movie-goers remember that there is more than Disney.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a gem. It ends the series well, it makes you cry, and it well made for an audience of all ages. The cuteness of Toothless and some of the other dragons are the perfect material for the many collectibles and I will buy them all. In the world of trilogies, this lands at the top. I’m hoping for more Dragon Rider adventures, but I won’t be mad if the story ends here. Almost 10 years later and the franchise still has my heart.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World starts showing nationwide on February 21, 2019.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a gem. It ends the series well, it makes you cry, and it well made for an audience of all ages. The cuteness of Toothless and some of the other dragons are the perfect material for the many collectibles and I will buy them all. In the world of trilogies, this lands at the top. I’m hoping for more Dragon Rider adventures, but I won’t be mad if the story ends here. Almost 10 years later and the franchise still has my heart.