For a film starring a dragon named “Toothless,” nothing is held back, as this tale sinks its remarkably adorable teeth into your heart and refuses to let you go, even after the credits roll.
Dreamworks Studios’ epic saga starring Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel; Asterid, voiced by America Ferrera; Fishlegs, voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse; Snotlout, voiced by Jonah Hill; Ruffnut, voiced by Kristen Wiig; Tuffnut, voiced by T.J. Miller; Toothless, and the whole gang from the island of Berk comes to a close in spectacular fashion.
After the gang of dragon riders has enjoyed over a year of peace and prosperity living with their dragons under the auspices of Chief Hiccup, a new threat emerges as the legendary hunter, Grimmel, sets his evil sights on killing the last, legendary Night Fury.
Hiccup begins a daring quest to find the home of all dragons, the hidden world, in order to protect their way of life from the violent rulers of the world, who seek only to exploit these dragons’ power for evil.
During their quest, Hiccup’s best-winged buddy finds the love of his life — a previously unknown dragon called a Light Fury.
Hiccup is forced to evolve into a true leader, man and friend, as he is faced with the toughest decisions of his life. He learns that he cannot save everyone he loves without making sacrifices of his own.
With each installment of this trilogy, Dreamworks proves that no one should merely view them as the guys that made “Shrek” and its disappointing sequels.
The animation of these films becomes increasingly more detailed and stunning in each installment. When one also considers the artistic innovation demanded by an animated film of mythical origin, the visual worldbuilding becomes more impressive still.
The movie is simply encapsulating. What the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy has done consistently better than any other animated film is keep action and characters on screen rather than opting for cheaper and less effective close-ups. Brilliant and dynamic wide shots flow across the screen with unprecedented levels of grace and detail. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” could live up to its title simply within only one of its many scenes, as there are often entire worlds of activity hidden in corners, surrounding the focal point of any moment in the film.
The film calls for multiple viewings and active watchfulness if one hopes to even come close to observing and comprehending all of the activity in any given shot. Even in simple scenes where nothing seems too complex, there is dynamism and motion supporting the central event.
The cinematic ingenuity on display is simply some of the best ever put to the big screen.
Additionally, the narrative elements of the film are nothing short of inspired. The “How to Train Your Dragon” series has always relied on the evolution of its characters as its foundation. Thankfully, its third installment follows that wise course of action.
The characters we have come to love over the course of nine years have their story told in a way that makes them more human than most of their animated contemporaries. In order to cope with life’s inherent element of suffering, the gang from Berk must mature; as they are forced to let go of their attachments, we, in turn, grow from them.
The narrative of this movie is never confined to any one area. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” understands that, in order to create a truly poignant film, one must have cause to laugh, to cry, to feel threatened and to feel comforted.
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is not a love story, a survival story, a ridiculous story or a tragic story. It is its own story, and we should be so lucky as to be along for the ride.
Any review that fails to mention the film’s masterful score, created by John Powell and Klaus Badelt, would be doing their exquisite work a disservice. The dazzling visuals would all be for naught without this terrific accompaniment that sends audiences soaring along with the gang from Berk.
Unlike many of the painfully tone-deaf, poorly executed or lazily written children’s movies that exist solely to have something for the babysitter to take the kids to while mom and dad go and see a “grown-up” movie, the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy is exciting, intriguing and moving to audiences of all ages.
This finale to a beloved saga admirably ends the story of the dragon riders and their best scaled friends from Berk. The largest issue fans will have with this film is that it ends.
This trilogy is one of the best cinematic trilogies ever produced, right up there with “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “The Lord of the Rings.” This one, however, is the only one that is family friendly to its core.
Though it is certainly true that no movie is without its flaws, audience members would have to be extremely scrupulous to find any in “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” that it isn’t worth trying.
Just go and enjoy a beautiful movie.