The “How to Train Your Dragon” movie franchise has staked out its own distinctive corner of family entertainment over the past decade. It was quirky with a sarcastic tone, but also landed strong emotional beats and took big chances, like killing off major characters.
Now that we’ve come to the final film in the trilogy, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the series has earned the right to go anywhere it wants, and fortunately where it wants to go is a satisfying and endearing conclusion.
The story continues to follow Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a young Viking chief whose village has become a place where humans and dragons live in harmony. The problem is this is not the case in the rest of the world as dragon hunters start to zero in on Hiccup and his dragon utopia.
Even though Hiccup and his friends (who are voiced by the likes of America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and Kit Harrington) are out to save as many dragons as they can, they begin to realize they can no longer keep the dragons safe in their village.
This is made even clearer when the dragon hunters bring in hired gun Grimmel (F. Murry Abraham, who knows how to menace with the best of them), who has his sights set on Hiccup’s dragon and really the star of the entire trilogy, Toothless.
Of course, Toothless has his sights set on something else entirely, as a female Night Fury Dragon makes her appearance and their courtship provides some of the funniest and sweetest scenes in the film. Even though the film spends some long stretches as a fire-breathing “Lady and the Tramp,” the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless is still at the heart of this franchise.
If there is a unifying theme to these movies, it’s things are not necessarily what they appear to be at first glance and change, for better or worse, is inevitable. The strength of these films is it delivers these thoughtful subjects wrapped inside a funny and entertaining animated movie.
Even though each movie works as a standalone film, writer/director Dean Deblois has his characters grow and change throughout the trilogy, most notably Hiccup, who goes from an uneasy outcast to a confident leader.
And even though after three movies I’m still not sure I know exactly how to train a dragon, it’s been a fun ride and journey that has delivered every step of the way.
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.