How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, 2019.
Directed by Dean DeBlois.
Featuring the voice talents of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington, and Justin Rupple.
When Hiccup discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel finds it first.
As Dean DeBlois closes DreamWorks Animation’s mythological Nordic trilogy, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World resonates worldly social consciousness. No, I’d not elect for primal barbarism to take effect over modern culture. Instead – after two movies centered around uniting *very* different beings – newfound friends must fight a common enemy: hatred. Unfounded, nonetheless. DeBlois’ third sky-shattering adventure is first and foremost a thrilling dragon quest but shies not from reminding of the gloom we must continually wipe from our world by proving it *can* be brightened.
We can’t have nice things – like dragons – just yet. We must earn that right by first unifying ourselves.
Chief Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Alpha Toothless now lead do-gooding crusades on behalf of imprisoned creatures, but their latest foe is their most formidable. Master Night Fury hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) is hired to capture Toothless so he’ll lead a new dragon army in Drago’s (Djimon Hounsou) evil honor. Berk crumbles under fire in the process, so Hiccup charts towards a “Hidden World” where dragons live in undisturbed peace. If his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) were right, Toothless would be safe. That’s until plans “conveniently” complicate when a shimmery female “Bright Fury” appears and Toothless is struck by, uh, Dragon Cupid’s arrow? Romance, the ultimate corruption.
Grimmel lives by an outdated, noninclusive code that paints all Night Furies with crosshairs. Singled out by differentiation, thought of as unable to coexist because of feckless preconceptions. Grimmel’s pin cushion Billy Idol hair and Transylvanian features (a bit vampiric) spew rhetoric about being a hero for killing his first “beastly” Night Fury and never turning back because all Night Furies are “bad” – deadly generalization – in the most odious way. Even as he stares Hiccup eye-to-eye after witnessing the bonds shared between a goofball Fury and his teenage-awkward master.
Translation: Grimmel is the (literal slavemaster) villain children need to see defeated in 2019.
To shake the seriousness, expect an upgraded “Dragon Rider” squad led by Hiccup’s flaming sword. Snotlout (Jonah Hill) incessantly hits on Hiccup’s instructing mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) protects his dragon’s baby Fishmeat via kangaroo pouch, twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple doing his best T.J. Miller impression) bonk about as bratty siblings – all more efficiently than actual battle sequencing. Astrid (America Ferrera) – the only capable warrior – alongside Hiccup must train their team (strength in togetherness), which is accomplished throughout stealthy castle sieges and flurried aerial warfare. All the while sporting custom-tailored dragon scale suits modeled after each soldier’s trusted steed (radness).
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World finds new and exciting ways to keep DreamWorks’ creative outlook fresh, introducing even more dragon designs and locational majesty. Beyond fluffy clouds layered like cotton puffs and granular sand digitization, Toothless’ “Hidden World” evokes neon illumination like a storybook blacklight party. No How To Train Your Dragon film has ever faltered in scenic views, and DeBlois’ computer-generating army prove third time’s just as charming as the first. Still finding new ways to detail Hiccup’s journey be it black-and-red knight’s armor inspirations, Grimmel’s da Vinci-ish flight contraption, or downright marvelous landscape panoramas from overcrowded Berk to Earth’s edge.
Much like Ralph Breaks The Internet, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is about the fearfulness of moving on but also the strength in freeing what we love most. Toothless finally finds a mate, which thrusts Hiccup into helicopter parent mode to adorable boundlessness. It’s equally hard to watch Hiccup send Toothless off for another dragon date, not knowing if he’ll return, as it is watching Ralph wrestle with “losing” his only friend. It’s a strong core buried deep from corrosion, powerful enough circle back for a teary finale drenched in dragon slobber. This is after Toothless’ many ritualistic mating dance advances that go horribly and comically awry, of course. Can’t skimp on inherent comedy gold.
I’m not ready to say goodbye, but as animated trilogies go, How To Train Your Dragon is one of the best. Number three climbs back in the saddle, blazes towards adventure, and bathes in bountiful Norse richness. As sweet a companionship tale as other oddballs combinations à la Lilo & Stich – you know, where Dean DeBlois started – but still socially relevant each step of the way. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a magnificent finisher for beardy Hiccup, shacked-up Toothless, and every other peg-legged or barrel-chested Berkian dragon lover the franchise introduced. Not much else to say other than How To Train Your Dragon ends as beautifully bold as it began.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt spends his after-work hours posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd (@DoNatoBomb).