Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
2010’s How To Train Your Dragon was kind of a turning point for Dreamworks studios. At that point in time they were still considered second fiddle to the big animation studios like Pixar/Disney and the like, even though they had a really long and varied history with animated titles. Usually they were considered “very good” in the story telling department, but never on the epic levels that Disney/Pixar dominated for multiple decades. That is until 2010 when How To Train Your Dragon just came from left field land shot them into superstardom. The animated flick was a slam dunk success, and proved that Dreamworks could hang with the big boys. 4 years later they followed it up with a sequel that was bigger, bolder, and even BETTER (if you can imagine that, since I gave the first film a 4.5/5 rating) than it’s predecessor. We’ve all been hoping for a followup film, and while we were satiated by the TV show, and the digital shorts, it’s been 5 years in the making for director Dean DeBlois to wrap up the story that he started nearly a decade ago.
It’s been a few years since Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) defeated the vicious barbarian Drago and his dragon army. However, things have changed due to the sucker punch death that happened in the previous film. His mother (Cate Blanchett) is back at his side, but with the loss of his father Stoic (Gerard Butler) Hiccup is having to learn to lead his brethren by sheer will power. Berk is now fully functional as a Dragon haven, and Hiccup, his fiancee Astrid (America Ferrera) and his friends Tuffnut (Justin Rupple, replacing T.J. Miller), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) all work together to free the remaining dragons in the Viking community from their oppressors. However, their world is turned upside down by the inclusion of an ancient enemy. The warlords of the other Viking communities are annoyed at the Berkians for SAVING the dragons instead of killing or controlling them, and bring back Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), the original dragon hunter who was responsible for wiping out all the Night Fury’s except for Toothless.
Using a female Night Fury as bait, Grimmel beings to worm his way into the Berkian village, slowly but surely separating the wounded Night Fury from Hiccup, until he can strike. Realizing that he might have to rely on himself and his friends instead of just Toothless, Hiccup thinks of the only escape plan he can make that keeps everyone together. Find the fabled “Hidden World” where Dragons came from, and escape off into the sunset to live happily ever after with their precious dragons. Running turns out to be futile as Grimmel is relentless, and soon the dragon riders of Berk are faced with an impossible decision to make. Continuing on to a world that may not be theirs, or saying goodbye to their friends and making a stand as humans.
Although this is a fantastic story, and a great ending to the series, it unfortunately is the weakest of the series for a few reasons. The first is the villain Grimmel. After the first movie’s dealings with Stoic the great, and the insanely dark and evil Drago from the 2nd movie, Grimmel just feels a bit tame. He’s never really set up as a true threat, and his end battle feels a bit weaker as a result. The second is due to some mild preachyness about humans not deserving dragons (you’ll know it when you see the ending). The film works, but it doesn’t hit nearly as hard as the previous 2 films, AND it doesn’t really take any risks. You know the ending before the film is a quarter of the way through it, and DeBlois kind of plays it safe with the story. It doesn’t take nearly the risks of the 2nd movie (that movie didn’t pull punches when it came to emotional scenes, or ripping characters away). It’s still a fun movie, but The Hidden World is just a bit tamer than it’s predecessors, and that sort of robs it of some of the emotional power that the series is known for.
Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor
• Alternate Opening with Intro by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
• DreamWorks Shorts:
- Bilby – Directed by Liron Topaz, Pierre Perifel and JP Sans; produced by Jeff Hermann and Kelly Cooney Cilella. Threatened daily by the deadly residents and harsh environment of Australia's Outback, a lonesome Bilby finds himself an unwitting protector, and unexpected friend, to a helpless (and quite adorable) baby bird.
- Bird Karma – Directed by William Salazar and produced by Jeff Hermann, the beautifully artistic 2D short film Bird Karma tells a delightfully lyrical and fully unexpected tale of a long-legged bird's journey of blissful joy, inescapable greed and the accidental discovery of the consequences when too much is not enough.
• Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
• How to Voice Your Viking – Go behind the scenes with the cast as they record the Viking voices of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD.
• Creating an Epic Dragon Tale – Discover what filmmakers learned while crafting this epic dragon trilogy.
• How I Learned from Dragons – The diverse cast of characters reveal why they think the dragon trilogy is so special.
• Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome – Join Coyote Peterson, host of Brave Wilderness, as he explores what it takes to make the dragon's characters come to life.
• The Dragon Sheep Chronicles – Protecting sheep from the dragons of Berk is no easy task but Hiccup has a plan.
• A Deck of Dragons – Observe four new dragons as Fishlegs unveils his original deck of dragon trading cards.
• Growing Up with Dragons – After years of being with these characters, hear the lasting effects of the dragon trilogy from the filmmaker's perspective.
• The Evolving Character Design of Dragons – Cast and crew reveal what it was like to evolve not only the characters of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, but themselves as well.
• Drawing Dragons – Get a glimpse of what goes in to designing a DreamWorks dragon.
• Epic Villain – A different kind of villain, Grimmel brings great challenges to the village of Berk. Go behind the scenes as filmmakers breakdown this epic character.
• Astrid's Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds – Hold on tight as Astrid sums up the whole dragon trilogy in a legendary 60 seconds.
• Welcome to New Berk – With Hiccup as your guide, get a firsthand look at the updated Viking village of New Berk.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a great (though not perfect) wrap up for the series that Dean DeBlois has helmed the last nine years or so. While it is not AS great as the first two films, The Hidden World is not far behind them and has a tear jerker of an ending that had me really wanting to rewatch the trilogy from beginning to end. The themes of moving on and growing up were fantastically done, and Dreamwork’s legendary attention to audio and video makes the Blu-ray an absolute stunner on the technical front. Add in a huge host of extras (which is a welcome relief in this day and age of meager extras) and the disc is well worth checking out for casual fans, and good buy for fans.
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig
Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Written by: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell (Based on the book "How to Train Your Dragon" by)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish DD Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 21st, 2019
Recommendation: Great Watch