HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: HIDDEN WORLD -movie review by Malcolm Waite

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the final installment in the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy.  In this film, Hiccup is the chief of Berk and has created the first viking-dragon utopia.  Berk is now overcrowded, and the film opens with our heroes saving a multitude of Dragons from a ship filled with dragons trapped in cages.  Presumably, this is what our heroes have been doing to make Berk so overcrowded.

This film is really about the people of Berk trying to escape Grimmel.  Grimmel is the main antagonist of this film, and he is an improvement over the villain of the last film, Drago.  Grimmel has hunted down every single Night fury besides Toothless, and he is trying to finish the job.  This actually adds a layer of fear to us as the audience, because we really don’t want our cute and adorable Toothless to die, and Unlike Drago, you believe Grimmel could actually succeed.  He just seemed so calculated and into it.  He was a strong factor of this film.  My one flaw with Grimmel was how he seemed a little one dimensional.  There is one line where he mentions why he kills Night Fury’s, and (VERY MILD SPOILERS) the reason is because when he was a boy, exactly like Hiccup, when he found a Night Fury at a disadvantage he killed it.  He states this as himself overcoming this little act of cowardice.  This is very interesting because it sets him up to be what Hiccup could have become if he decided to actually kill Toothless in the first film, a great Night Fury Hunter, a hero throughout all of Berk, but for all of the wrong reasons.(PAST THE SECTION OF VERY MILD SPOILERS). There are shades of this character, shades of greatness.  Grimmel could have been so much more than this hunter who gets into the minds of his pray and controls exactly how they act, but alas, he is just left at this.  However, this is more of a nitpick, so this won’t really affect my final grade of the film, it is just something I wish could have been expanded upon.

In this movie, Hiccup and Toothless develop a little of a rift between them, due to the introduction of a female Night Fury.  Night Fury’s mate for life, and Toothless is being constantly distracted because this new Night Fury pops up so much.  This gives us as an audience a very interesting dynamic between the two, because while they did develop somewhat of a rift at the end of How To Train Your Dragon 2, that rift happened because Toothless was under the villain’s control.  Now it is natural.  This infatuation does bring us one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie, where Toothless is trying to woo the female Night Fury, and he ends up doing all of these ridiculous things to do so while Hiccup gives him a thumbs up after each one.

Another great aspect of this film that really surprised me were the flashbacks.  These flashbacks were scenes of Hiccup as a young boy, and with his father Stoick.  As you all probably know, Stoick died in the last film.  The first flashback with Hiccup and Stoick I thought was alright, but it seemed to me as a way to get Gerard Butler on the credits to have another big name in this film.  However, the second flashback with Hiccup and Stoick was phenomenal.  It made me appreciate the first one a tad bit more just because it sets up something that happens in the second.  I do not want to spoil this second flashback, but I will just say it really fleshed out Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship much further than ever before.  It opened my eyes to a lot of Stoick’s motivation in the first film, and made his death in the second movie even for tragic.

While the flashbacks were great, by far the strongest aspect of this film was the ending.  It was everything I wanted for a heartfelt conclusion for this series.  I loved everything about it, and I would just go see the movie again to see how everything builds up to this ending.  It was the most heartfelt moment from any movie in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise.  I’d even go as far to say it was the most heartfelt part of an animated movie I have ever seen, matched only by Toy Story 3 and Up.  This is a big feat for any Dreamworks animated movie, who as a studio are known to be the lesser Pixar, and they end up having a movie whose ending matches  The gut-wrenching opening of Up and the bittersweet ending of Toy Story 3. And that is the exact word I would use to describe this ending, bittersweet.  It isn’t necessarily a sad moment, but if you have been a fan of these movies, it will really affect you.  There was one shot in this ending that really affected me, and it called back to a very iconic moment from the original How To Train Your Dragon, I just couldn’t help but have somewhat of a realization that these films are really over.

Conclusion:

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a fantastic animated movie, and it cements the How To Train Your Dragon franchise as Dreamworks best, and their only one consistent enough to match the films of Disney and Pixar, and beat the vast majority of those movies.  It is the best How To Train Your Dragon movie, and by far the most emotionally resonant animated film I have seen since Toy Story 3Toy Story may for once lose to How To Train Your Dragon, but we’ll wait and see until Toy Story 4 comes out. 

Grade:

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a film with phenomenal animation, emotionally resonance, and a strong but somewhat lacking villain.  However, this small nitpick will not take away from me giving How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World an A+.

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