And that’s a wrap. After 9 years, 3 movies, 4 short films, and a subsequent TV show, How to Train Your Dragon finally finished its trilogy following Hiccup and Toothless in a beautiful and touching manner. However, this review will not discuss the tear inducing ending, for obvious reasons, as according to my boss, my reviews tend to spoil the movies… so let’s try one where I don’t do that. Great. Now onto the review.
Is this movie a good movie? Should I go watch this movie? Should I take my significant other(s) (hey I don’t judge, well I mean I do judge movies but not the personal life decisions of my readers) to see this movie? Yes, Yes, and… Yes! How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a great movie. Is this the best out of all 3? No. Nothing touches the first movie. BUT… it had some of the most picturesque and emotional scenes of all the movies that left the audience either wide eyed, emotional and/or in tears.
Gone are the scenes of childish excitement where Hiccup and Toothless bond and grow and the slow and reluctant acceptance of dragons by the citizens of Berk. The characters this movie have grown up, at least physically. They have matured and, for better or for worse, have found themselves as adults (yet they remain the loveable band of misfits, just with beards or lack thereof).
I cannot stress enough how amazing this movie is at giving audiences, who have invested years into the franchise, closure. We see Hiccup, Astride, and the rest of the cast even more fleshed out and given endings. More often than not, the last film of the franchise ends up a dud (I’m looking at you Harry Potter and Return of the Jedi). But this finality comes at a price. This film does not feel like the typical How to Train Your Dragon entry. It has an ethos filled with gravitas and character complexity that the others traded in for a lighthearted adventure spectacle. This film is much more hard hitting and emotionally poignant. It really goes out of its way to let the characters shine and drive the story home.
This is where I think that the franchise really shines: the character development across movies. From the young awkward days of the first, to the growing and learning of the second, to the whole crew reaching their potential in the third. In other words, the story ark is beautifully executed . And with the years spread between the films, it felt like we grew with the characters, and matured with them.
Moreover, the third movie forces our characters to grow up one last time. But this time, grow without the dragons. Hiccup has to learn to define himself without Toothless by his side, as do all of the Vikings. They have to form their own identity as individuals who will lead their society forwards into the unknown, again. But, what is interesting about this movie is that the character that grows the most within its story is Toothless.
Compared to the other two movies, this instalment has a greater focus on Toothless and his maturation as a dragon (I cannot believe I am writing this). He is also learning to define himself aside from his best friend and learn to act on his own. This can be further seen through the many scenes in which Toothless is alone and flying by himself, without his companion. This is a stark change compared to the other two films. Also, the Light Fury has a large role to play in the development of Toothless. Overall BOTH Hiccup and Toothless learn who they are aside from their bond, creating many bittersweet moments. Also, can we just take a moment and appreciate how amazing Toothless is? Like seriously, there is plenty of fan service in this movie for all Toothless fanatics.
Now, as this is a How to Train Your Dragon movie, it would be a crime not to talk about the visuals. The first two films were stunning, but nothing could prepare the audience for this beautiful work of animation. The attention to detail is incredible. For example: the stubble on Hiccups face, the use of darkness/shadows in scenes, and the realistic movement of water. This instalment also perfected the eye-reflection shot, allowing for some moments on screen. Furthermore, the flying scenes are visually stunning. I honesty cannot think of another animated movie that features such amazing scenery.
Also, let us not forget the incredible score that gives this movie its emotion heartbeat. Hats off to John Powell. Thrilling, high intensity moments followed closely by intimate and fragile moments in the scenic score all further heighten the vulnerability of this movie’s character development. The music is really a major aspect to the success of this franchise.
Along with the stunning visuals and music, we have an amazing returning cast. The all-star voicing provide by the leads is what really gives the movie its personality. Jay Baruchel, as always, does fantastic job as Hiccup. The new addition of F. Murray Abraham as the antagonist Dragon Hunter Grimmel is refreshing. It adds some much needed maturity to the film. The rest of the cast, consisting of A listers such as Cate Blanchett, Kit Harrington, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, and Craig Ferguson (my favourite of the Late Night talk show hosts) carry this movie forwards without any trouble. I have nothing but good things to say.
Overall, this is a great ending to one of the best animated trilogies out. It is emotional, funny, and just a lovely movie. Plain and simple. Yes, it has its faults, but the many Toothless scenes more than make up for any and all flaws. This film is a fitting and bittersweet ending to the How to Train Your Dragon series. Thank you for all the memories, tears, and laughter throughout the years.
Rating – 8.5/10
Watching the first movie when I was 12 to writing a review of the last one as a university student… It really shows how life flies by.
So make the most of it. Go and do something tomorrow. Go volunteer. Message your friends, family, loved ones, anyone really, and tell them that you appreciate them and how much they mean to you. Go for an extra long walk with your dog. If you see someone struggling, try and listen to them, anything helps, even a smile. Take a Mental Health Day. Read a new book or an old favourite. Cook something you love to eat. Meet up with friends who you haven’t seen in a while for a coffee (or tea) and catch up.
Just do something.