Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Movie Review: "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" (2019)

Director: Dean DeBlois
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

When Berk starts to become overcrowded and Toothless becomes the target of a dragon hunter, Hiccup decides to move the village and hopes to find and settle in the mythical Hidden Kingdom his father always talked about when he was little.

Hiccup riding Toothless How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 2019 movie still
"You always have my back, bud." (Image Source)
Some of the greatest animated films of all time come from the likes of Disney, Pixar, LAIKA Studios, and Studio Ghibli. While Dreamworks has been hit or miss when it comes to their animated repertoire, the "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise has been one of our favorites. The first two movies are emotional, breathtakingly animated, and have terrific messages, so can a third installment follow suit? "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" is once again directed by Dean DeBlois, who in addition to directing "How to Train Your Dragon" and "How to Train Your Dragon 2" also co-directed Disney's "Lilo and Stitch." After the passing of his father Stoick (Gerard Butler), Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now the leader and chief of Berk. He, his dragon Toothless and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) and their pals Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), Tuffnut (Justin Rupple), Eret (Kit Harrington), Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) frequently make raids to free captured dragons to bring back to Berk, which is now vastly overcrowded as dragons and Vikings coexist peacefully. Hiccup often remembers the tales his dad used to tell him about a "hidden world," a haven at the edge of the Earth that is safe enough for dragons to live unbothered. Meanwhile, a majestic and mysterious Light Fury has captivated Toothless, though she appears to be sent by someone since dragon traps are found near where she was discovered. That "someone" is Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), an infamous dragon hunter who reveals to Hiccup that he has made it his mission in life to kill any and all Night Furies...and Toothless is the last one remaining. Hiccup tells the village that it's in their best interest to evade the notorious Grimmel by packing up and leaving their island in search of this "hidden world."
Toothless and Light Fury How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 2019 movie
"It's almost like we're a team." (Image Source)
We were very excited to see "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" because of how much we love this series as a whole, but we weren't really sure where the story would go since the first two movies compliment each other so well and all but conclude Hiccup's character arc. Though it doesn't quite live up to the incredible first two, much more emotionally weighty installments, it is still a solid end to an excellent trilogy of films. This film is much more focused on Toothless's story as he finds a romance with the Light Fury. The more he connects with her, the more he moves away from Hiccup, and their struggle to find a balance and allow each other to be who they want to be is the key to this whole story. While the voiceover work is still on-point, this movie is missing Gerard Butler (and we never thought we'd say this)! Stoick was such a great character whose presence always allowed characters to deal with more mature issues and substantial subject matters. Here, there is a much heavier reliance on supporting characters like Ruffnut, Tuffnut, Snotlout, and Eret, who are much goofier than the rest of the fray. When the story focuses on the twins fighting or being annoying or Snotlout competing against Eret for Hiccups' mom's affections, the movie falls into more kid-oriented fare and uses more repetitive jokes, which the series hasn't depended on much up until this point. Grimmel also doesn't feel as intimidating and menacing as Drago Bludvist from the last installment, barring some intimidating language that could be compared to those who use modern-day nationalistic lingo. Plus, it would have been impossible to surpass the grandiose nature of the alpha showdown in "How to Train Your Dragon 2." How could this third chapter live up to that? Despite these complaints, we still think this is a really fun movie. The last act is the perfect send-off to the characters we've come to love over the past decade and will most likely leave you in tears.
Astrid and Hiccup in the hidden world How to Train Your Dragon 3 2019 movie
"One day, you're going to pick a fight you can't win." (Image Source)
While "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" is just as brilliant looking as the other two films in this series, but it didn't quite live up to the greatness of its predecessors. However, we still think it is worth watching. Dreamworks has obviously spent a lot of effort improving their visuals (not that they were ever bad in the first place) because the rocky hills and rolling waters are getting to be Pixar-level good in terms of its photorealistic-ness. We cannot wait to see what they come up with next, but we'll sure miss Toothless, Hiccup, Astrid, and all of their adventures.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.9/10
RT Rating: ~93%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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