TL;DR – Beautiful, joyous, funny, emotional, a film for everyone, and one of the best sequels I have seen a very long time
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene, but the credits are delightful
The How to Train Your Dragon series has been one of those little gems that keeps binging quality films, time and time again. It is a really simple premise, you live in a world with dragons, and you can either fight them or make friends with them. It is a simple but effective morality tale about fearing what you do not know and finding a new way forward. Well, today, the third film in the series is out in cinemas and we thought it was really good, like really, really good, like you really need to go see it good.
So to set the scene, it has been one year since the event of How to Train Your Dragon 2, and the citizens of Berk are working through having a new chief in Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the fact that space is starting to run out in town, and also the growing threat of dragon poachers. Hiccup leads raids against the poachers near Berk with Astrid (America Ferrera) and the gang saving as many dragons as they can, helped by the fact that Toothless is an Alpha. However, in a last ditch effort to defeat Berk the poachers turn to Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) a man known for one thing, the extermination of all Night Furies, to help them defeat Berk once and for all. So the town of Berk is faced with a dramatic choice, face defeat or change their lives for good.
first thing you see in the film is just how good everything looks and that
takes the combined talents of so many talented professionals to get right. The
first place you see it is in the worldbuilding in and around Berk. The city
comes alive with the details of life and the bond between the humans and the
dragons. There is also a rich tapestry of colour throughout the town, the joy
is everywhere. We also see it in the design of the new dragons, there are those
with scorpion tails, little omens, and big lovable brutes. This gives the
actions scenes a new sense of urgency, as these are the most formidable foes
yet. All of this action flows really well and has great use of light and contrast to create vivid visual touchstones.
Each new design deepens the world of dragons and this is also helped by the amazing animation used to bring them to life. Once again Toothless is the weird hybrid of a cat, a dog, and a lizard that can fly, and they completely make it work. Indeed watching him try to work out how to court his new friend was one the most amusing moments in cinema in a long time for me. You also see this attention to detail in the small things, like how the sand moves, or the ripples in the reflections on water, the wisp of a cloud. This is before we get to the big new set piece locations, that I don’t want to spoil, other than saying that they are visually stunning. Well when you have Roger Deakins consulting on the imagery, well you know it will be good.
also see that same attention to detail in the story, which is unpacking some
really interesting themes. The main theme is ‘what does it mean to be a leader?’
This is something Hiccup has to work out for himself now that he has inherited
the mantle of leadership. Should you be facing it alone, what are the sacrifices
that you will endure, how far will you go? I also found it interesting that his
main villain’s reason for doing this is that he is a trophy hunter and who despises the notion of what if everyone
worked out you could live in harmony, then everyone would be doing it. A very
well timed bad guy. All of this is wonderfully supported by another great score
by John Powell, who knows just the right moment to have those trumpets soar.
We are also three movies in now, so the cast is clearly comfortable with their characters, this means that they can take that emotion up a level without it feeling out of character. It also means that the banter flows naturally between them all. So it almost feels like we are coming back to the lives of some old friends rather than a movie. Of course, Jay Baruchel is still amazing, and his conversations with Toothless are the heart of the film. Also, America Ferrera is great as the voice of reason and encouragement, and ruler in her own right. Because of the cast, those amusing moments get a full on laugh rather than a chuckle, the emotional moments hit harder, and frankly, it was a joy to watch.
In the end, do we recommend How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World? Yes, yes we do, completely. I had a smile on my face from start to finish, that is bar the times when I was crying during those key emotional moments, like just the whole ending. It is a joyful film, and it has an important message, and it was a great film to start 2019 off with.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Directed by – Dean DeBlois
Written by – Dean DeBlois
Based on – How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Music by – John Powell
Cinematography by – Gil Zimmerman (with Roger Deakins consulting)
Edited by – John K. Carr
Starring – Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Justin Rupple & Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: U; United States: PG