DreamWorks Animation close the curtains to the much loved ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ franchise after a long wait since 2014 due to needing more time to animate and new acquirers Universal taking over the studios. Is the film worth a 5 year wait or should the film have remained in its own hidden world?
The land of Berk’s dragon population is increasing, as Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) continues to rescue the creatures from hunters. After remembering the words of his father about a far off place where dragons roam at the end of the world, Hiccup realises he must move the island residents in the hope of finding this area but with a new deadly foe named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) tracking their every move, Hiccups best friend Toothless becomes a target.
In terms of story, this final outing for the series is less than stellar. Annoyingly the hidden world of the title is hardly shown and it’s a real shame the plot doesn’t decide to stretch a little longer to actually let us wallow in the wonder of the twinkling majesty the animators have created here. Generally speaking this third entry written by director Dean DeBlois is the weakest of them all and it boils down to the narrative being less than special; not feeling any different to the previous two and therefore it lands with little interest.
Gladly the visuals themselves keep the captivation levels high, because the work of the animation team is drop dead gorgeous. The detail of each characters face and the way they inhabit the world is mesmerising as are the colours and designs for the countless dragons on display. A lot of this beauty is thanks to the great textures utilised making a lot of the background scenery look almost photo-realistic. Fire, water and glowing caves all contribute to make this Viking environment feel as wonderful as possible.
Admittedly, there is a satisfying level of humour attached to the film, be it general knuckle-head humour, Toothless as this dopey eyed dog/dragon or Kristen Wiig being brilliantly infuriating as Ruffnut, the jokes work where the meaty side of the story doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
Along the way there are some flurries of fun action and a faint pitter-patter of sad emotion works but overall it’s a story that wasn’t totally worth the wait, only the animation itself is. If only the film had the courage to go deeper, be darker and commit to flaunting the hidden world instead of being its most safe feature yet.