Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer
Here’s a quick bit of trivia for you. Though produced by Dreamworks Animation Studios, all three “How to Train Your Dragon” pictures have been distributed by different studios, representing the hot-potato like nature of Dreamwork Animation ownership during the 2010s.
The first all the way back in 2010 was through Paramount, it’s sequel four years later was by 20th Century Fox, and now five years later, Universal Studios has taken the Dreamworks baton and has released the third and final film in a trilogy of films that can only be described as the Dreamworks Animation equivalent to Pixar’s “Toy Story” franchise in terms of gradual maturity and emotional depthless. And as with “Toy Story” their 3rd one is the best one yet and the best possible ending they can give this great franchise.
Taking place one year after the last film, Hiccup Haddock (Jay Baruchel) is the chieftain of his Viking clan’s island Berk after the death of his father in the previous feature. Under his rule, he has made the island a bit of a utopia between the human inhabitants and the massive number of dragons that he and his friends have rescued over the years from warlords and raiders that use them as war machines.
This ticks off said warlords to hire an infamous dragon hunter by the name of Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) to kill Hiccup and his Night Fury Toothless so they can raid the island and take all the dragons. Fearing for the safety of his people, Hiccup decides to move the entire clan away from Berk in the hopes that they would find an ancient “Hidden World” that his father talked about when he was younger, where supposedly all the dragons come from and live there in solitude.
But plans get complicated when Toothless falls in love with a female albino Night Fury, who doesn’t take to kindly to humans making Hiccup question of whether his bond with Toothless will get in the way of Toothless’ s happiness and strength.
The animation is stunning as par for the course but the creature and production design is where the film stands out. Every new dragon is creatively original and a beauty to behold, especially Grimmel’s personal dragons whose scorpion-like features and acidic fire make them a threat to be taken seriously.
If there are any aspects that take a downgrade it’s in the writing of Hiccup’s friends. While Astrid (America Ferrera) is confidently written and her romance with Hiccup is a high point in for its natural development from the previous two films, Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Ruffnut and Tuffnut (Justin Ripple and Kristen Wig) are practically unbearable.
Each one is given a new “comedic” aspect to work with and none of them work. From Snotlout’s sudden obsession with Hiccup’s Mother (Cate Blanchett) to Ruffnut’s fake beard that he treats as real, none of it contributes to anything. Also, while Grimmel’s actions are rather intense for a children’s film, his backstory is rather one-note and unworthy of a villain this intimidating.
Still the ending is, in all honest, the perfect way to close out this trilogy. I think anyone who has grown up with this franchise won’t be disappointed with it.