The movie series, loosely based on the book series of the same name, concludes as Hiccup seeks a Dragon Utopia called “The Hidden World.” A tale told by his late father Stoick when he was a child of a land where all dragons live. Hiccup also has to deal with Toothless as his dragon starts to fall in love with a female counterpart named a “Light Fury” and being stalked and hunted by Grimmel the Grisley, who wants to hunt and kill Toothless, the last of the Night Furies.
The following article contains spoilers from this point on.
I am a fan and enjoy this series. When I look back at Dreamworks animated movies, I feel like there are only a few of their animated films that hold up as time goes on. It’s not a knock on the other animated movies they released in the past, but this series seems to hold up better than most of them. While most of their films seemed to play it safe, this film took some risks that would be considered by some as risky for a movie that is marketed towards kids. A few ways were by having the hero lose his leg in the first movie, and then killing his father by his own dragon in the second movie. Usually, most animated films play it safe with the hero being OK and the seemly dead characters coming back to life or not dead in the end. But somehow this makes the series feels like it is not a that dark and depressing for any child to watch.
The story of this film seemed to be fitting for a final movie. Berk has gone from a place where dragons were destroying Berk by attacking it, to dragons nearly destroying Berk by overpopulating it. It is funny to compare the original opening to this movie like that, but it’s just something that had caught my attention. I got a great feeling of congestion of being in an over-crowded and overpopulated land with citizens of Berk and Dragons. Berk has an overpopulation problem after Hiccup, and the Dragon Riders have been rescuing dragons for the past year from Warlords, the secondary antagonists in this movie who took over after the fall of Drago. Berk had become a safe haven for dragons but also had made them a target. The only solution that Hiccup could come up with was to move and find the hidden world. A place where dragons and human can co-exist peacefully mention to him by his father in a flashback. The original story was fine and made sense. I just didn’t get why the residences were entirely on board with up and leaving their homes to find an unfound land. I didn’t understand why to take a very slim chance that you’ll find a supposed area that may or may not exist. At the least, the dragon riders should have gone out to search first.
Hiccup has grown since the first movie, and it showed. A year since his father’s death, he has taken up the leadership mantle of Berk. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but I feel that his posture and mannerisms had changed from the first movie. The character has grown since his days as a weakling child to an almost Viking warrior, well one who rescues dragons instead of fighting and killing them. I do miss the engineering and discovering aspect as the only scene in this movie that we get is him making another tail for Toothless to impress the Light Fury. While I did like the leadership role that he had, he seemed kind of infallible. Even with the wrong decisions that he was making he seemed seem to have the full support of his council and the residents of Berk. Regardless, this is one character that can overcome a problem, and the way it is shown and handled makes sense.
The dragon riders are back in the supporting role of Hiccup again. Astrid now engaged to Hiccup seems to have changed along with Hiccup. She doesn’t feel as short-tempered and rushes into danger from the prior movies, but matured and grown up as well. She still helps and supports Hiccup by not telling him, but helping to guide him to the answer to a problem as well as swing a mean ax. The rest of the dragon riders returned, Snotlout, Fishlegs, Ruffnut, and Tuffnut are back, but didn’t seem to change to me. They still had the qualities, personalities, and jokes that they had embodied in the last two movies. It’s OK for me, as I’d rather see growth with the two characters versus the side characters. Valka, Hiccup’s mother and Eret son of Eret returns from the last movie as well. Both of these characters, I wish I had gotten more since they both play a big part in How to Train Your Dragon 2, but only had a handful of scenes and elements that were kind of important. This was a bit of a letdown since I felt that they were more important that this movie made them out to be. I think the same can be said for Gobber as well. He’s back, but he feels just there and does provide a laugh when he encounters Hobogobblers. Stoick returns in a flashback to give exposition and character development to Hiccup. I thought that he only needed to be in one scene and not two.
The new character of Grimmel the Grisley was a great villain. Voiced by F. Murray Abraham, he is one of the coldest villains in the series that I’ve seen so far. He is proclaimed to be the one who nearly hunted down all of the Night Furies and caused them almost to go extinct. He is a hunter that always seems to remain ahead of anyone that tries to pursue and stop him. Even when it looks like he was losing control, he somehow seemed to still be in control and ahead of the situation.
He even presented a contrast to Hiccup, maybe an alternative version of Hiccup had Hiccup killed Toothless. Grimmel was in a position like Hiccup where he came upon a downed Night Fury, but instead of saving it like Hiccup, he killed it. An interesting “What if” for me. Had Hiccup shot Toothless, would he have become Grimmel? They seemed to be similarities when you think about it. Hiccup’s choice looked to be the split where he believed dragons and humans can co-exist, where Grimmel wanted them wiped out. Grimmel controlled Death Grippers with their own venom with his skills, Hiccup sought dragons to have the freedom and help them like how he made Toothless artificial tail. Both had created devices for their own good or wrong methods. It’s just exciting to think and wonder how the two contrast themselves.
The love of Toothless and the Light Fury, a dragon that is a counterpart to the Night Fury felt natural but somehow forced at the same time. Forced because she was a white palette swap of Toothless. Natural because toothless had to work to get her to prove his love. He was an Alpha Dragon but needed to still prove his worth as a mate to this female counterpart. While the scene of him trying to court with Hiccup’s help her were amusing, I just can’t help wonder why not include Astrid to help out toothless. Hiccup seemed lost, and it’s funny he didn’t have more of him understanding the Light Fury and could have given him and Astrid a chance to work together and maybe show Hiccup’s and Astrid love and connection for each other. I’m not saying that there love wasn’t there, just that it could have used more time to show the audience.
I, unfortunately, didn’t get to see this movie in any large screen or 3D format. Which is a shame because this was one of few movies that got 3D imagery right. About a decade ago, when 3D had first been reintroduced to the cinema-going audience with a film called Avatar. It blew people away with 3D visuals, but also led every studio to make a movie 3D, even if the movie didn’t call for it. I felt this was a way for studios to get an extra $3-4 out of people for a movie ticket. This series got 3D done really well. There were times where I felt like I was flying and soaring on a dragon and felt depth whenever many dragons were on screen or even during the flights and battles in the movie. If you can watch it in 3D.
There were some moments in the movie that nearly harmed the film. The scene where Ruffnut was inadvertently captured by Grimmel felt like more filler to the film than an actual plot point. It was overdone how annoying she could be and too much of a simple way to have her lead Grimmel to the where the Berk residents were hiding. The side characters had more miss than hit jokes. If there were bigger and better lands than Berk, why didn’t they just move there in the first place? Besides these points, I still enjoyed this movie.
This is supposedly the last movie in the series. It feels fitting to call it that. This movie does wrap up the story of Hiccup and Toothless and completes a well-fitted story arc. Of course, there is always that idea that there will be more movies and that a series is never done. They did this I feel as we see Hiccup, Asterid, and their children meeting Toothless and his family 10 years later. But the story of Toothless and Hiccup did feel finished to me. We did come as far as we could for their story in this timeline, and between the movie and TV series, it’s been a hell of a ride. I also liked the end credits montage showing the highlights of Hiccup and Toothless from the past films was really touching.
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