Don Reviews "How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World"
It is well documented on our shows and in my reviews that “How to Train Your Dragon” is one of my favorite films (animated or otherwise) of all time. With the third and supposed to be final film in the series here in “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” I will skip my normal intro and say that my bar was set VERY high.
Den DeBlois has officially directed all three films, and this one starts with our hero in Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) along with his friends as they are continuing to rescue dragons from trappers. The more dragons they rescue, the more crowded their village of Berk is becoming, so Hiccup decides to find a place of legend known as “The Hidden World,” where dragons live in peace away from man. At the same time, a dragon hunter known as Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) is paid by some trappers to capture Toothless (a Night Fury, which is the leader of dragons), and they even give him a female Night Fury to lure Toothless in with. As the Vikings try to find a land no one has ever seen, they also have to stay ahead of the hunters who want to get rid of all of the dragons for good.
For an animated film, this is nothing short of beautiful. It keeps the same style of the two films before it, but the technology has gone up a notch here. Most of the voice cast is back for this one including America Ferrara, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, and Kit Harrington along with Justin Rupple stepping in for T.J. Miller, and with Abraham joining as the villain, he did the same wonderful job that Dijmon Hounsou did with the film before this one, making the villain his own.
From a storytelling standpoint, I loved it, even though there was a moment in the middle third of the film that seemed to just hit the bar. The themes of relationships of all kinds is hit well with the right amount of comedy, adventure, action, and emotion. One of my favorite moments was as Toothless meets the “Light Fury” for a courting ritual that was both hilarious and sweet at the same time. This runs about an hour and forty minutes, which is just about right for this final installment in the story, and as critical as I knew I was going to be on this film, I am proud to say that this gets the coveted first run prime-time viewing in the theater as well as a prediction that this WILL make my Top Ten at the end of this year.