Fresh on Blu-ray: ‘HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD’ swoops in with an emotional conclusion, visual wonder

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James C. Clay // Film Critic

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD

Rated PG, 104 minutes
Director: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrara, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harrington, Kristen Wiig

If you have ever owned an animal – whether it be a dog, cat, turtle, lizard, or a dragon – you know that bonding process can be tough, but the rewards can be life-changing. The love we feel towards our strange-looking companions is an earth-shattering love that is unparalleled. The HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON franchise has articulated this seamlessly with its sensitivity and spectacle. It is so lavish that it rests right next to TOY STORY as one of the best-animated franchises of all-time.

The third and final entry in the trilogy, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, is now out on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and DVD, and it’s one add to your collection.

The tale of the little Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night Fury dragon Toothless has taken us on a journey from self-discovery, to grappling with grief, to learning to love and let go. This entry raises the stakes of the universe into a film that has beauty, danger and visuals unlike anything seen in animation.

Director Dean DeBlois handled all three films in the trilogy, providing a personal stamp that’s relatable and provides a sense of cinematic wonder. It’s films like this that can give young movie lovers the chance to be swept away with the power of cinema.

THE HIDDEN WORLD takes place years down the line from the second entry. Hiccup is now the chief of Berk, his mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) has been found, his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is dead, and the chief is on the cusp of starting a family of his own with Astrid (America Ferrara). Hiccup and Toothless have been going on stealth missions to liberate dragons from around the world, and things don’t always go as planned. The group encounters a villainous dragon hunter named Grimmel (played by a delightfully menacing F. Murray Abraham), who wants to obtain Toothless as a prisoner. This, of course, rocks the world of Berk and leaves Hiccup confused on how to proceed. (This is what makes Hiccup such a relatable character: He’s always looking to grow.)

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) with Toothless in ‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.’ Courtesy of Dreamworks and Universal.

Through all this turmoil, spring has sprung for Toothless, who is experiencing his first chance at a romance with a newfound dragon called a Light Fury. We get so many delightful scenes of the two dragons and their courting dances. (This trilogy has always done excellent work with Toothless by bringing his goofy innocence to a dialogue-less character.) While these scenes resemble a silent film, we can understand their dynamics. It’s a marvelous way to bring the story forward.

THE HIDDEN WORLD is worthy punctuation for the film series, but it feels a tad rushed at the end and has a few tonal issues. Sometimes the film exercises the power of cinema, and othertimes it relies on pratfalls from the goofy set of Vikings – voiced by (Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Craig Ferguson). Considering this is a family film, those missteps can be forgiven. However, it’s hard to ignore gross-out humor.

Overall, this film is an enjoyable experience for any fan of the franchise and provides an escape to a new world that has thematic elements that are expertly connected to our own.

Grade: B+

Special Features:

  • Alternate Opening
  • Two Shorts: Bilby & Bird Karma
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Dragon Sheep Chronicles (featurette)
  • Welcome To Berk (featurette)
  • A Deck of Dragons (featurette)
  • Feature Commentary