Geek Review: How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I had a really busy weekend with a lot of long papers to grade, but did that mean I had no time to see a movie or two?  Are you kidding?  Those sorts of trips help save my sanity.

As such, I got to see How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.  I caught up on the other two a week or so ago, so how did this last one work out?

Opening with an action sequence, we see Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon friend Toothless leading raids to rescue dragons from trappers with the help of Hiccup’s girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) and their various clumsy and obnoxious friends.  As it is, Berk is now overcrowded with dragons, and when word comes that a particularly dangerous dragon killer (F. Murray Abraham) with a thing against Nightfuries is after Toothless the Dragon Alpha, they need to act.  The one solution may be to relocate everyone to the legendary “hidden world” where dragons come from.  But there’s a twist:  a female Nightfury, also known as a Lightfury given its white coloring, has caught Toothless’ eye, and Hiccup finds himself in the position of a guy who finds his best buddy may be more interested in hanging out with a new girlfriend than his longtime best guy friend.  It doesn’t help that the nameless female doesn’t like Hiccup at all.  Can Hiccup lead Scottish vikings and dragon alike to the Hidden World?

All things being equal, the How to Train Your Dragon movies are all roughly the same.  There’s some really nice animation given in service to a story that is fine but nothing overly special.  Kids will enjoy them and parents probably won’t be bothered with them.  This was the first one I saw on a movie screen, and the Hidden World scenes in particular really pop out, and since Hiccup is getting older and more mature as the series progresses, we can see he has a beard coming in during his close-ups.  That is the basic theme of the movie itself.  Both Hiccup and Toothless are settling down and looking to maybe start a family.  The bond between Hiccup and Toothless also really works, and Toothless is a fairly fun animal companion.

But there was one thing I always found a bit odd about these movies, and that’s the supporting cast.  Sure, Cate Blanchett returns to this one as Hiccup’s mother and Craig Ferguson is still there as Hiccup’s one-time blacksmith mentor, plus there are even a couple flashbacks to give Gerard Butler’s Stoick some screentime, and that’s all well and good.  But then there are Hiccup’s friends, and aside from Astrid, they don’t seem to do much but act as obnoxiously as possible.  This being the last one of the trilogy–and the movie does end in a way that suggests there won’t be more of these but I’ll believe it when I don’t see it–sees some attempts to give Hiccup’s friends more personality.  And why shouldn’t they?  I mean, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig have been voicing two of them in every one of these movies.  Why not give them something to do?  Oddly enough, the one member of the gang given the most screentime is actually the one voiced by one Justin Rupple, a replacement for original voice TJ Miller.  So, yeah, the new guy without so much as a Wikipedia page of his own has more stuff to do than more recognizable actors.

At any rate, this one was fine.  I liked it, but I can see forgetting about it in a few months.  It’s nice, but nothing really special  7.5 out of 10 characters drooling over the guy voiced by Kit Harrington.

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