Review: How to Train Your Dragon, The Hidden World

One of the best ongoing animated franchises is back for what could be their final installment! The How to Train Your Dragon films have been worldwide hits, with the first two grossing over 1 Billion (with a ‘B’) dollars combined during their worldwide theatrical runs. The Hidden World just flew into theatres this weekend, but will it burn up the competition? Yes. Yes it will. Making over $14 million more than the next film, Alita: Battle Angel, on Friday alone, it is sure to track with or even out-perform its predecessors in opening weekend earnings. And one thing that tells us just how magical this franchise is are the release dates of the three films: March, June, and February. Success in three different seasons is nothing to sneeze at when you’re not a Marvel movie. But let me identify what I specifically enjoyed about this movie (and a few things about the franchise) that tells you why it’s worth your time.
If you haven’t seen any of the How to Train Your Dragon movies, don’t read too far into this paragraph unless you’re okay with some franchise spoilers. I won’t spoil this movie though, no worries….the rest of you, please keep reading (and skip this paragraph if you don’t need a recap) 🙂 These movies focus on the Vikings of Berk, namely a group of youngsters and their Chief, Stoick. It begins in a time where Vikings are at war with dragons for destroying their villages and crops, but things become interesting when Stoick’s son, Hiccup, finds a rare, injured dragon who he names Toothless. Both considered to be outsiders, the two become friends and prove to their village that dragons are simply misunderstood and can be rather kind creatures. So as seemingly everyone on the island adopts a dragon of their own, the dragon-poachers come, seeking to either eliminate or control all dragons, depending on the film. The second film left us viewers with some big plot advances: They found Hiccup’s dragon-taming mom alive and well, Stoick dies saving Hiccup, Hiccup becomes Chief of Berk, Hiccup and his love-interest Astrid make their relationship official, and Toothless takes on the role of Alpha Dragon acknowledged by all dragon-kind.
And thus the third movie begins, with a Viking village that is both working to save and befriend dragons, while also looking quite over-crowded. This time, a new threat (whose name I can’t remember, so I will call Murder McMurderPants) is coming after Toothless, and so the fight begins again. In the process, Toothless, the last ‘Night Fury’ dragon, finds love with his counterpart dragon, a ‘Light Fury.’ Taking it all in, the scene is very early set for not only a final showdown with yet another menacing Viking, but also for some pretty big changes in Viking-dragon dynamics. One flashback scene analyzes it well, when Stoick, talking about his missing/presumed dead wife, discusses with young Hiccup about how love and loss go hand-in-hand, but also why he wouldn’t trade away that love for anything. So the movie progresses to some well-earned emotional payoffs for several main characters, as well as a finale that leaves the door open just a crack in case they want to pull a Toy Story 4 in fifteen years.
Although I still think the first movie is my favorite, this is another stellar film with some gorgeous animation and one more tug on those heartstrings. Having also watched both tv series on Netflix, Dragons: Riders of Berk and Dragons: Race to the Edge, my heart is probably a little more saddened than yours will be to see the franchise come to a likely end. But knowing that, I also wouldn’t trade it away for anything. So go see How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading, cheers!

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