‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Soars…with a Hiccup or Two

The first time I saw How to Train your Dragon, I felt an incredible sense of joy. It happened in the second act, when Hiccup, our protagonist, flies on Toothless, the dragon on whom the story is based, for the first time. I literally teared up with wonder. I had an absolute blast watching the movie and experiencing the emotions that Dreamworks wanted me to experience.

When I watched the second movie in the series, I left feeling challenged. Here was a follow-up to the original that took things so much further. It made the world bigger, it made the action more epic, and it created consequences that were heart breaking, It was fun and funny, and it made me proud that I had invested time into these characters.

Something happened between the release of How To Train your Dragon 2, and How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World. I banned myself from watching movies that had animal companions. They were a minefield of tear-jerking moments and painful separations. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing even one of my furry little cats, let alone a dog that would one hundred percent be my best friend.

As I watched the trailer for How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World, I realized that that is exactly what this beautifully animated movie was. It was a Dog Companion movie. And the plot was that someone wanted to kill the dog…I mean, dragon.

Despite this, I went and saw this movie, or rather, my wife forced me to see the movie.

Did the Viking-based fantasy story live up to the last two? Both of which made me literally laugh, cry and sit on the edge of my seats? Well…kind of. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this movie a lot.

Animation: pretty good, through the character’s eyes get a little stale sometimes.

Voice acting: really good. I almost didn’t even realize they replaced an actor for the whole movie.

Music: inspirational.

But…there was no real moment like in the first where I felt like I was flying on a dragon myself. There was no heart-wrenching moment like the second film, where the character’s being so human made me tear up. And I didn’t walk away with a funny line running through my head like I did with both other movies.

Also, the bad guy did his job, and not much more. He was bad, he made me angry, but he was kinda flat. It was still better than The Justice League’s bad guy, so they did something right.  

But what this movie did do well was close the book on the story. I view the first film as the inciting incident, and the second as the climax to the story. Which would make this the resolution. And it was a very well done, and tonealy speaking perfect resolution.

It took care to create an understanding of where these characters are, where they want to be, and where they should be. It mimics back to the first movie to help the audience remember where we all came from and it gives us the closure that we all want in a relationship that we invested nine years of our lives into.

There are moments of sweet friendship, and bitter consequences. There are moments of doubt and of unbelievable awe.  It has all these things, it’s just not as epic in comparison to the first two. But what it does have, that the other two don’t, is the feeling that after we leave the theater, there is no need to come back, cause we got everything we could want.

Also it has Hiccup with a beard. Just saying.

Photo by Dreamworks Animation.

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