Today, I went to see a film at the cinema for the first time since school. It was a film called How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. This would prove to be interesting, as it is the first film by Dreamworks Animation since their takeover by Universal. For this film, I will split my review into five catagories: Graphics, Plot, Score, Characters, and Overall Impressions, For each one, I will score out of 20, to give a nice round score out of 100. So will the influence of Universal have an effect on the quality of the final product?
I could sum this up within a line if I wished. But I will put more detail in for you all. The graphics in this film were absolutely gorgeous. And I mean gorgeous, I cannot put into perspective how good they were. There are not words.
I think the best way I can describe it is that all the characters look… human. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very difficult and rare to have animated characters that look completely human, completely believeable.
As for the scenery, they really pushed the boat out on this one. Berk used to be a quaint little Viking village. Now though? It’s a bustling dragon community growing by the second. And they have put the same attention to detail into every little part of Berk, from the houses to the cliffs, even to the snow on the rooftops. I really cannot score the graphics anything other than top marks.
The plot of the film in basics is the same as the last one – An evil, possibly psychotic Dragon hunter targets Toothless, the rare and mystical Night Fury, in the quest to catch all the dragons.
That is where the similarities begin and end. Grimmel is a very different animal to Dragon from Film 2, which I will point out later. The plot of this film was very much catered to continuing the story told in number 2, as well as Dragons: Race to the Edge on Netflix.
The entire first third of the film was dedicated to Hiccup and Astrid’s story, with the constant will they won’t they of marriage, as well as balancing the demands of a relationship and being chief. A rather amusing minor plot meanwhile, was Snotlout’s constant pursuit of Valka, Hiccup’s mother.
And now for the villains. The main villain is Grimmel the Grisly, assisted by his three underlings if you will; Griselda (voiced by Vick Hope), Ragnar (voiced by Olufur Darri Olafson), and Chagtai Khan (voiced by David Tennant).
I appreciated the fact that at no point did Grimmel feel like a replacement for any previous villans, instead having his own motivations and desires.
As the plot progressed, it became clear that Hiccup and Toothless were on their own individual stories, and that them being in each other’s stories was putting them both in danger.
The scene near the end with the Dragons and Humans leaving each other was just beautiful and tearjerking. It really did an excellent job of bringing the story full circle from dragons being feared and kept away for peace to dragons being sent away with love for peace.
Overall, the plot was really strong. It achieved the difficult balance of bringing the plot full circle and saying why the dragons are no longer with us, while also keeping the story somewhat open to future adaptations. The only thing I would say is that the plot did feel slightly recycled from the last film.
The score for each film has been conducted by John Powell, and the first two films were spot on, with the music perfectly reflecting not only the tone of the scene, but also the traditional theme of the film.
As for this film? Well he’s done it again, put it that way. The music isn’t something that can really be described, more experienced, preferably on your own in a quiet, distraction-free environment, or with the film itself.
There is just a certain magic to the music of the film, from the beautifully calm strings to the rousing, triumphant updraft of the music as it progresses (I’m probably sounding like Beethoven now!)
I’d love to pick a fault in the score, but… well, there just isn’t one. I can’t fault the film at all for the music and the sound. It’s not just something you listen to, it’s something that you feel. And I feel the soundtrack for these films like I feel no others.
The usual cast of characters were back, along with a couple of new ones. The main character, as usual, was Hiccup. Early on it looked like there hadn’t been much development in his character, but as the film wore on, it became clear that he was walking a tightrope between being a good chief and being a dragon lover, eventually having to choose between the two and give up his dream.
The villain of the whole operation was Grimmel the Grisly. Again, early on he seemed to be cut from the same cloth as Drago. However, it soon became clear that they differed in their motivations. Drago hunted Dragons for making an embarrassment of him, whereas Grimmel lives for the thrill of the hunt, and specifically hunted all the Night Furies to the verge of extinction purely for the thrill and for the accolades it brought him.
Snotlout provided the comedy relief in the film, with his affections having shifted from Astrid (in Film 1 and the TV series) to Ruffnut (at the start of Film 2) to Valka in this movie. His constant macho rivalry with ex-hunter Eret, Son of Eret was entertaining throughout, and fitted in perfectly with his character traits that we love.
The true star of the film though, was Astrid. I had an issue with the fact that she was rather underused and neglected for much of the second film, but that was corrected in this film, and in a big way.
In this final instalment, Astrid went from glorified cheerleader to the most integral part of the plot, being Hiccup’s moral guide and providing the guiding hand and voice of confidence which he largely lacked as the struggling young chief.
The theme between the two of getting married was bounced around a lot early on in the film, and Astrid’s playful personality and steely grit proved to be exactly what the story needed. I’m sounding like a broken record now, but there really wasn’t much that could/should have been changed with the characters.
In this final section, the film will be rated on how well it fitted the individual factors together. The film lasted for around 105 minutes, but it felt like about 30. This is no negative, instead being that time flew due to how good it was.
The film flowed like nothing I’ve ever seen. It changed direction constantly, from being light-hearted and comical, to a gripping thriller, to a tear-inducing drama, and finally a rousing, triumphant end.
The end credits were something that I will never forget equally. They acknowledged the history of the franchise and showed screenshots of some of Hiccup and Toothless’ most important scenes together, reminding everyone why they love the film so much.
Overall, this film was absolutely wonderful, and I would definitely say it’s the best film I have personally ever seen. I asked at the start of this review if the influence of Universal would affect film quality. Let’s put the answer this way – if this film is anything to go by, Dreamworks could be in Dreamland.
Overall Impressions: 20/20
Overall Film Rating: 97/100
Thank you for reading. If you like this review, you’ll love Dragon Heart, my story which takes an alternative look to the events after HTTYD2. You can find it at this link here: