“How to Train Your Dragon” instantly became one of those movies I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. The sequel was equally good, continuing to develop interesting and complex characters and relationships as well as creating breathtaking animation with even more dragons to love. The third of the series is currently streaming on HBO and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” checks all the right boxes and gives viewers all the right feels.
Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless continue to lead his people in rescuing dragons from warlords still using and abusing them. The rescued dragons are fostered in their town of Berk, but things have gotten a little crowded lately. Hiccup tries to maintain order using Toothless’ alpha status, but trouble keeps happening left and right. After a public outcry, Hiccup tells his people he wants to find the Hidden World, a land beyond the horizon the his father told him about as a child where the dragons live in safety. In response to his dragon rescuing successes, the warlords have hired dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisley (voiced superbly by F. Murray Abraham) and have given him a female white Night Fury to capture Toothless, knowing he would then be the alpha to all dragons.
Toothless and the Light Fury, as dubbed by Berk chieftess-to-be Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera), meet in the woods and become enamored with each other, neither ever seeing another of their kind before. After a scuffle between Hiccup and Grimmel that leaves most of Berk in ashes, Hiccup decides to move his people for their safety and to try to find the Hidden World. After finding a safe island to settle upon, the Berkians begin setting up New Berk while Toothless and the Light Fury fly away to the Hidden World where they become the alphas to all the dragons. Hiccup, realizing bringing his people there would be dangerous and unfair to the dragons, is fully prepared to say goodbye to his best friend when Grimmel attacks. He captures the two Furies, drugging them, and thereby taking control of all the dragons who now follow them. Hiccup and his friends must face unbelievable odds to free the dragons and defeat Grimmel before any other tribes or towns full under his might.
This was such a fun movie! It’s beautiful, it’s funny, it’s poignant, and best of all, it doesn’t rely on either of the previous films for anything other than backstory. With a quick recap of what happened, anyone could follow the plot.
My favorite scenes were between Toothless and the Light Fury as they court each other. Clearly extensive research was done on courtship and mating rituals. These scenes are silly and beautiful and full of so much heart, you actually find yourself saying “Awww” watching two cartoon dragons hop around and coo at each other. Plus Toothless looks like both my cats combined with his big green eyes and expressive face, so I just loved it.
The action is well-paced and intense, at times making you worry if they actually will make it out of this one. The writing and dialogue are strong, believable, and engaging. It’s such a relief to watch movies like this and not feel like they are for any age demographic. This is a film for anyone, not just kids. DreamWorks Animation is very good at what they do and I look forward to their films as soon as they come out.
Watch the first two if you’re a completist, but honestly you can put this on and follow it pretty well. And man, is it pretty to look at.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Snack Packs
Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and writer in NYC. He was also the dragon mascot in high school, only he couldn’t fly or breathe fire. He’s still bummed.