REVIEW: Third ‘Dragon’ ends the series on a positive note

It seems like the dragons are trained by this point, but the name still rolls off the tongue nicely.

In the third and likely final film in the series that started in 2010, the main character Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), an expert dragon trainer and rider is now chief of Berk. Since the events of the second picture, the island village where vikings reside has become a sort of safe haven for dragons. Because the people of Berk have become experts in handling dragons, thanks largely to Hiccup’s efforts in the past two movies, the dragons are able to live in relative peace.

However because of how many dragons are coming to the island for safety, the land is becoming overcrowded. This is on top of the fact that there are antagonistic forces who want to eliminate dragons, seeing them as a threat. In response, Hiccup decides to find the so called “Hidden World,” where dragons can live safely without being found.

The third “How to Train Your Dragon” is a true sequel, pushing forward the story in a few ways. Like the second in the trilogy, “Hidden World” advances the tale in new ways, rather than rehashing prior events. Additionally, and probably more importantly, the themes of the series are also advanced.

The first two movies were about growing up, changing with the world around you and learning to find solutions for new problems, whether they be relationships or major conflicts. The third film is no different, with Hiccup’s worldview again coming into question and the character having to respond with personal growth. This time it’s especially important since he’s now chief and his people are relying on him.

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Courtesy DreamWorks Animation.

The thematic elements combined with the film’s inclusion of adventure and exploration make for an all around enjoyable movie, for the most part. The film does hit a bit of a problem with a clunky second act that seems a bit too long and doesn’t translate as well into a third act.

This is partially because of the villain, Grimmel (Murray Abraham) who seemed to be rather one-note and quite similar to the one from the second movie.

Probably the weakest part of the whole movie, though, is Hiccup’s dragon-riding teammates. The side characters who Hiccup has known since the first installment, Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Jonah Hill), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple) haven’t really advanced at all since the first picture and it really shows.

Not that they should be overly serious, but both Hiccup and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) have been written with growth over the trilogy and these four haven’t, and it becomes rather annoying after a while.

Fortunately, as previously stated, Hiccup and Astrid have both become better characters and seeing their arc in this one is great. The character moments they have on their own, and together, are handled well here and help the overall product.

Also helping the film were the two main dragons. Both Hiccup’s dragon Toothless and a new, similar dragon, provide plenty of heart and humor for audiences to enjoy the whole way through. Despite obviously not having any dialogue, the animators were able to make the dragons quite expressive.

Speaking of the animation, it’s stunning, as expected. Each installment in the trilogy so far has boasted phenomenal, vibrant animation with several unique designs, and “Hidden World” is no different. The sequences inside the Hidden World location are especially gorgeous visually.

“Hidden World” has some stumbles along the way, but it’s overall a fun movie and sends the characters off in a nice way, which is admirable. 3.7 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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