Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera), Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchett), Stoick the Vast (voiced by Gerard Butler), Snotlout (voiced by Jonah Hill), Ruffnut (voiced by Kristen Wiig) and a host of others are back, as well as Toothless, in writer/director Dean DeBlois' third --- and last --- installment, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD. New to the story is Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), a dragon slayer who is seeking to destroy all of the creatures of Berk.
Now that Hiccup is chief of his people, he and Astrid, along with their worthy warriors --- and his mother, Valka --- have been rescuing captured dragons and bringing them to their village. As their dragon population grows, so does their exposure to the evil Grimmel, who is hell-bent on eliminating all of the winged beasts, most importantly Toothless, a prized Night Fury.
To ensnare Toothless, Grimmel uses a beautiful, shimmering all white female dragon, whom Astrid names Light Fury. Toothless is bewitched by this gorgeous creature, as the beginning of their courtship plays out on the sand. It is evident these two are meant to be together, but then there is Toothless' loyalty to Hiccup.
Hiccup, realizing he cannot keep Toothless from following Light Fury, fashions a long tail for him so he can fly with her to the Hidden World. But first they must elude Grimmel, who views these two rare dragons as his final quest.
The entire franchise of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON has been sweet and totally entertaining, but as David may state, this third film is the best. DeBlois has assembled many of his crack team to ensure that the final chapter would be memorable --- and they succeeded.
The introduction of the mysterious white dragon had to be carefully orchestrated so that fans of the series would accept her as the reason for Toothless' coming of age --- and ultimately leaving Hiccup behind. Both Toothless and Hiccup have met their mates, and it's time for them to each have their own lives. And Light Fury had to be created to everyone's satisfaction --- and she most definitely is.
The romance between Toothless and Light Fury is so beautifully drawn. It is more than enchanting and heartwarming. Their flirtation on the beach leads to a panoramic scene of them in flight, which brings a smile to all when the tips of their wings meet and caress. One can just feel their love expanding into what will become a life-long commitment.
When Hiccup and Astrid set out to find Toothless and Light Fury in their Hidden World, they cannot imagine the breathtaking refuge they will find. The set designers and animators have created a hidden paradise for the dragons that is visually stunning --- truly phenomenal in scope. This part of the movie alone is worth the price of admission.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD is classic family entertainment. It is a wonderfully conceived story about friendship, loyalty, love and the courage of letting go. And --- as I like to remind people --- you don't need a child to go see this. It is perfect for moviegoers of any age.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!
Wonderful animation, great music, an all-star cast and a sweet story line --- what more could you ask for in a movie suitable for the whole family? HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD is all of that and more, the third effort in this franchise dating back to 2010.
Canadian writer/director Dean DuBlois, a double Oscar nominee for the two previous DRAGON films, has outdone himself here. Much of this film is dedicated to Toothless (Hiccup's personal dragon and best friend) finding romance with a lady dragon named Light Fury. It's not love at first sight with these two --- Light Fury definitely plays hard to get, but only for a while. At least 15 minutes of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD focuses on Toothless and Light Fury going through a courtship. There is no dialogue, only suggestions of mutual attraction accompanied by John Powell's terrific score.
Once Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) imbues Toothless with a new tail, courtesy of Hiccup's ingenuity and Toothless' own pieces of armor, the boy dragon is able to soar with Light Fury. Their resulting flights of fancy are magical and all-consuming for the viewer.
Naturally the film has a villain --- this one is named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) --- and he manages to capture Toothless and Light Fury in his quest to vanquish all dragons, leaving Hiccup's Vikings without their primary fighting army. I was struck by how much I cared about the two lover dragons as they were dangling helplessly in their prison of netting.
DeBlois' team in charge of special/visual effects has done a masterful job of creating this alternate world of the flying creatures. But for me, it's the little things that get my attention. The facial expressions of the animated characters are amazing, not the least of which are the children of Hiccup and Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) at the end of the movie. Without giving too much away, let's just say that the little boy and girl are absolutely terrified when they meet Toothless --- but terrified in an hilarious manner.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD also features voice work by the likes of Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig (note: she is a HOOT as the fast-talking, never-shutting-up Ruffnut), former Late Late talk show host Craig Ferguson, and for you Throners, Kit Harington --- most of whom are returnees from the previous two films.
The principals in this third venture talk about the technological advances since the first movie in 2010. For example, as stated in the production notes: "There are more than 65,000 dragons in one shot of the Hidden World of the Caldera—the most of any shot in the film. Additionally, in the Caldera, there are a mind-boggling 68 million mushrooms and 79 million corals." I suggest you keep these staggering numbers in mind when you see HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD.
This film, in addition to being hugely entertaining, is a truly intelligent vehicle to teach younger viewers, or adults for that matter, the importance of letting go. See it with your kids, or even without them.
Opinion: See It Now!