How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has worked hard as the chief of the dragon utopia where man and beast live in harmony. But, Toothless has left to find a mate and a new danger looms to threaten all he has accomplished in “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

Laura's Review: B-

Now chief and ruler of Berk, Hiccup’s (voice of Jay Baruchel) is a happy reign of Vikings and dragons living in chaotic harmony. After he and his crew rescue more dragons from trappers, though, it is becoming apparent that he is facing overcrowding. But Hiccup is still on the side of dragons, especially when a new foe arrives in the form of Night Fury killer Grimmel (voice of F. Murray Abraham) who has irrestitable bait at his command, a female Light Fury Toothless is besotted with in “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Cowriter (with the series’ Cressida Cowell)/director Dean DeBlois returns to complete his trilogy and while it is lovely to look at and wraps his ‘boy and his dog’ story up neatly, it doesn’t muster the excitement brought by the first two installments. While the first two films delved heavily into their own dragon mythologies, this one focuses on leadership and the mating of its hero and his dragon, its only new dragon mischief sprinkled in gags involving Gobber’s (voice of Craig Ferguson) fear of Hobgoblins. The film features a number of set pieces that see the Berkians battling those who would kill dragons, but aside from the very cool looking dragon scale wingsuits that allow their warriors to walk through fire, they are mostly perfunctory. In one amusing bit, Grimmel frees his one hostage, Ruffnut (voice of Kristen Wiig), because of her annoying behavior. A flashback has Stoick (voice of Gerard Butler) telling his son about the hidden world where dragons live beyond the horizon, a piece of information Hiccup acts upon by evacuating Berk in the face of Grimmel’s fleet, one of the crazy ideas Astrid (voice of America Ferrera) supports in her campaign to make Hiccup believe in himself rather than his combined force with Toothless. The hidden world Hiccup and Astrid eventually find utilizes the film’s new Moonray lighting technology, making everything in the caldera look as if lit by blacklights. It is a beautiful, otherworldly realm, but it soon becomes apparent humans are not welcome in this place where the Night Fury is king. There are plenty of running gags, like Toothless’s enthusiasm for playing fetch with Hiccup’s leg prosthetic, Snotlout’s (voice of Jonah Hill) crush on Hiccup’s mother Valka (voice of Cate Blanchett) and the constant ribbing Hiccup endures about popping the question to his obvious would-be queen. Hiccup’s hidden assist to Toothless’s clueless mating ritual for the Light Fury is classic animation slapstick. The vocal talent is as strong as ever as is the animation, but “How to Train Your Dragon” 3 is more gentle landing than rousing adventure. Grade:

Robin's Review: C+

I have to say, I am disappointed. I enjoyed both the original and the first sequel, but this outing should have been left behind as a no-so-good plan. The problem I have is that the first two films developed all of the many characters, including the amusing array of dragons, so we got to know and feel for them. “HtTYD: The Hidden World” is a lot of style but lacks the substance of the first two. In this latest excursion to the world where there are dragons, Hiccup is proud of his utopia and life in Berk is good. But, evil dragon trappers, led by Grimmel the Grizzly (F. Murray Abraham), who are the enemy of dragons, are closing in on their peaceful hamlet. Hiccup must come up with a plan to move the entirety of the endangered utopia to safety. That safety is the titular hidden world. The plot that moves the story to find the hidden world and save the dragons is diverted when Toothless sees something that no one knew existed – another Night Fury, snow white in contrast to Toothless’s coal black, who Astrid (America Ferrera) names Light Fury. The ensuing romance between the two Furies is charming and sweet, a contrast to the bombast of the rest of the film. I was surprised to see that the franchise’s original writer/director (with Chris Sanders) wears the same hats for this third outing. I am surprised because “The Hidden World” feels like it was handed off to another team. Sure, it looks great, there is lots of color and action and amusing characters. Here, though, the characters, except the principles, are secondary to the action, the opposite of the original and first sequel. One of the things I, as an adult, look for in animated features is a story that engrosses me, with the action being a plus. Here, the action is front and center and the characters, human and dragon, secondary. One positive thing is that the kids will love it. One last observation – does Grimmel the Grizzly resemble Roger Stone or is it me?