The How To Train Your Dragon films have been two of the most popular animated movies in recent memory. Both movies have been major hits with critics and fans and have put serious box office numbers up as well. This makes the pressure all the greater for the third entry, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which has a lot to live up to. Luckily, for fans, it appears that the end of the trilogy is going to be everything they want it to be. A handful of critics have now seen the movie, and they all seem to love it, to varying degrees. As Variety puts it...
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World packs the emotional heft of the dozen or so years it has taken to get this far, tracking the loss of one parent, the discovery of another, and several momentous lessons in bravery and loyalty along the way.
That certainly makes it sound like the film is going to have all the emotional punch that fans of the two previous entries would be expecting. While Dreamworks Animation might not get the credit that a studio like Pixar has when it comes to tugging at the heartstrings with animated films, the Dragon films have certainly done that for many people.
The Wrap puts The Hidden World on par with Toy Story 3. While being forced to admit that financial success might have been the initial motivating factor for producing both films, that didn't stop their respective studios from creating films that were the best in the series with the third installment.
Writer-director Dean DeBlois caps his emotionally intelligent adaptation of the Vikings-and-dragons book series with an enjoyable, beautiful story of destiny and freedom.
The How to Train Your Dragon movies have, thus far, been some of well regarded in recent memory. Both previous films have over 90% scores on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The two films together have made over $1 billion at the global box office. In fact, New Zealand's Stuff, says that with the new movie included, the series is one of the best trilogies in years.
Rivaled only by the Weta-infused Apes as the best trilogy of the current decade, How to Train Your Dragon completes its triptych with a fitting final flourish.
One thing that does seem clear based on the reviews that are in, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a movie that knows it's the end of a story and is going to take full advantage of this fact. Based on Indiewire's description, we probably shouldn't be expecting a fourth installment to come along.
The Hidden World strikes a bittersweet chord in reminding its young audience that all good things - including the age of dragons - must come to an end.
This certainly makes it seem like The Hidden World won't have the sort of ending where everybody wins and lives happily ever after. While it's not uncommon for the end of a trilogy to result in some sort of loss, even when it's right for the story, it can still be a serious kick in the emotional core. THR strikes a similar chord to Indiewire, strongly implying that the audience might want to pack tissues when going to see The Hidden World. It really sounds like you'll need them.
All told, by the time How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World nears the end of its Harry Potter-esque closing trajectory, in which Hiccup must learn how to let go, the bittersweet result will have audiences finding it equally hard to say goodbye.
You can't really have much more glowing reviews than these. A few months ago producer Steven Spielberg certainly gave the impression that this movie was going to be something special, and based on the response thus far, he wasn't wrong. The only problem with them for most fans is likely that the movie is still nearly two months away.
All that love isn't to say the new movie is absolutely perfect. The Film Pie says that while, on balance, the film is still good, it has a tendency to go off the rails a bit here and there.
The Hidden World is a little too chaotic in places but there's more than enough heart and sentimentality, particularly during the finale, to win over audiences.
The real weak link in the film, according to this review, is that the villain of the piece, voiced by Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, is a bit too one-dimensional, though apparently not enough to ruin the film.
Similarly, Screen Daily feels that while The Hidden World is certainly still a good movie, it doesn't really do anything new with this third installment of the franchise. It seems that after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, all other animated features are going to need to up their game, and visually it simply doesn't do that.
Eight years on, the How to Train Your Dragon films might not break any new aesthetic ground... but they remain as vibrant as ever.
Being the first animated feature coming out after Into the Spider-Verse was certainly going to be a tough place to be. Still, it seems that The Hidden World has held its own about as well as could be expected. It may not have the visual style, but it makes up for it with heart. Although, as we move forward you can be pretty certain that all animation studios have taken note of Miles Morales and will be adjusting their approach accordingly.
While How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World may not be a perfect movie, thus far it's certainly reviewing that way. This will be great news for those who have been invested in the first two and excited for this new third installment.
For those of you who have somehow completely missed this franchise, you still have time to catch up on the first two before the trilogy completes. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will be in theaters February 22.