“How to Train Your Dragon” Trilogy Ends With A Bang


How to Train Your Dragon

It’s been nine years since Dreamworks’ first “How To Train Your Dragon” movie came out and, as its audience has matured, so has its storyline. This time, the village of Burke serves as a haven for dragons and is brimming with the flying friends. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is doing his best to lead his people after the events of the trilogy’s 2014 sequel. While all may seem peachy, there are those who seek to do evil with the beasts.

The arrival of another white Night Fury is followed by crazed dragon hunter Ivar the Whitless (David Tennant), who is hired by the remnants of the coalition of dragon trappers from the last film. With Burke put at risk, Hiccup, with the help of his mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) and possible fiancee Astrid (America Ferrera), takes matters into his own hands and goes off in search of a hidden world to provide a safe space for people and dragons.

At its core, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is sort of a recapitulation, the cherry-on-top send-off for the series.

While the focus is on Hiccup and Toothless (and their changing relationship), each character plays to their strengths—although, it would have been nice for each character to have stronger development.

To my delight, the villain of this movie is more interesting as a character than in the previous film. But like each film in the series, the real “villain” lies within our protagonists.

There are some surprisingly mature questions addressed in his film that show how far the series has come. How do you become a leader? How do you say goodbye? I was shocked at the way the filmmakers explored some of these topics, especially in a flashback scene with Hiccup’s father, Stoic (Gerard Butler). Stoic explains to his son how love is a deal one makes, knowing that the clock is ticking and one day you will inevitably have to say goodbye.

The film is also light and uplifting. The majority of scenes are punctuated with hijinks and expert comedic timing.

However, I can’t talk about an animated movie without mentioning the animation. In the latest “How to Train Your Dragon” film, the visual graphics are stunning and advanced. This film suggests that Dreamworks may have finally caught up to Pixar’s animation skills.

The dragon’s hidden world is also a spectacle, a type of visual feast that reminded me of James Cameron’s “Avatar” (2009). The sweeping visuals are once again helped along by John Powell’s wonderful score, a blend of romantic orchestral music and Viking vim and vigour.

This film is a must-watch for fans of the series, and I think newcomers can easily find fun and heart within this movie. Director and writer Dean Deblois (who also helped direct Lilo & Stitch) has been at the helm for each film, and it’s an emotionally complete trilogy that I don’t think should be further touched, but the cynic in me says Dream- works may push another one out eventually. The series has made leaps and bounds, each movie growing in scope. It’s always hard to say goodbye, and as the trilogy ends, it does so on a beautiful high note, with a heavy heart and a graceful exit.

Contact Peter Hager at [email protected].