How To Train Your Dragon 3 Review: Visually Stunning, Narratively Satisfying

Chris Beauchamp, Staff Reporter

One of the hardest things a filmmaker may find themselves doing is wrapping and concluding their or, in other cases, other filmmakers’ story. Finding the proper balance in bringing something new and bringing proper closure is something extremely challenging.

Photo taken from How To Train Your Dragon 3 Movie Official Site
Jay Baruchel returns to provide the voice to Chief Hiccup. Baruchel was also apart of 2013s “This Is The End.”

Some great examples of concluding chapters can be found in Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” and Reeves’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.” Within the animation spectrum, “How To Train Your Dragon” has become a very beloved franchise amongst fans and critics; releasing, now, three feature films and a television series. The animated feature series began in 2010 and comes to a close in 2019 in the form of “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

The film stars Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill and TJ Miller. Dean Deblois returns to direct and write the conclusion. So, how was the film? Was it a fitting close to the franchise? Let’s talk about it. Before going further, this review will have no spoilers since this review is coming out two weeks ahead of its release.

Photo taken from How To Train Your Dragon 3 Movie Official Site
Hiccup and Astrid embark on a quest to find The Hidden World. These characters have been together throughout all three entries.

“How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” follows our heroes, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and Toothless, creating a place of safety and peace for all dragons to live in together. However, when new forces threaten the existence of all dragon creatures, Hiccup and his group of friends and warriors embark on a quest to find the legendary place known as The Hidden World.

Before going in, I actually didn’t find the time to watch the previous two entries. However, I did catch up, thanks to hardcore fans of the source material, on the overall story going on before entering the screening.

Photo taken from How To Train Your Dragon 3 Movie Official Site
This entry concludes the stories from both the features and television series. The franchise first began with the first feature film in 2010.

The reason I bring this up is because the third works great on its own and doesn’t rely on prior knowledge to understand it. You don’t need to walk into this having watched the other two to understand this one. It’s its own story that works and stands on its own.

The animation is breathtaking and the highlight of the entire film. Its bright and stylish colors enhance the overall viewing experience.

Photo taken from How To Train Your Dragon 3 Movie Official Site
The film is set a year after the events of the second. The franchise has grossed over $1 billion.

The areas of criticism can all be found in the storytelling and narrative structure. The overall story is very predictable and doesn’t deliver any surprises or intriguing elements to add to its narrative. It doesn’t try to take risks and plays it very safe. It doesn’t go deeper and just goes through the motions.

As someone who didn’t see the other two, this entry does make me curious to go and watch the previous movies. However, if you walked into it, as I did, you will not find yourself lost at all, which is a huge positive for the film.

“How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is a satisfying conclusion to a beloved franchise. It delivers on stunning animation and a great voice cast all around. If it only went a little deeper with the messages it was trying to touch on and take more risks, I think it would have made for an “epic” conclusion as it was being advertised to be. But, at the end of the day, this is a franchise made to hit more for the younger demographic and, from my screening this past weekend, I can definitely say it hits its mark and more.

“How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”: 8/10