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Almost 10 years have passed since How To Train Your Dragon flew into theaters, kicking off a beautiful franchise of spectacle and whimsy. And right from the beginning, it did so with the help of one of our favorite enhancements when it comes to the theatrical experience: the 3D conversion! As one of the early stand-outs in the realm of the third-dimensional enhancement, that first film set a tone for a series that’s always seemed to understand how to use 3D properly. So here we are, in 2019, with How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World asking us to take one last ride and ask that important question: to 3D, or not to 3D?
If you’re looking to see how How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World stacks up as a film, that can be found by reading our official review. But if you’re wondering whether the 3D content in said film soars high, or flies low and toothless, you’ve come to the right place. Prepare for tears and technical detail, as we’re about to dive into just what the final How To Train Your Dragon film does with its final 3D showdown.
How To Train Your Dragon is another franchise that was born into the 3D lifestyle, as it took off in the early salad days of the medium. So on that front, the 3D conversion was a no-brainer. But considering the action and adventure these films have always brought to the table, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is even more of a fit for the sort of eye popping storytelling you’d come to expect from Dreamworks Animation’s big gun property.
3D as good as the conversion we saw for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World doesn’t happen by accident. Any animated film can throw things at the screen and pan the camera in all sorts of wild directions to attempt a 3D thrill, but this series has always been deliberate in how it uses the language of enhanced visual storytelling. Every aspect of this film shines in its execution, and you can tell that the team behind such an effort put a lot of hard work into making every piece of the How To Train Your Dragon finale’s 3D.
If you wanted to single out one specific aspect that sums up how well How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World breaks out of the screen, it’d have to be the dragons themselves. One dragon in particular, belonging to the film’s villain Grimmel, spits acid at whatever it’s attacking; and whenever this effect goes off, it is one of the most impressive projectile 3D effects in quite some time. Fire, acid, and other weapons fly through the screen, and right into the audience’s theoretical laps, and it never gets old. That basically sums up the rest of the film, as there’s a lot of consistent window-breaking by objects and characters, without being excessive or forgetting about the other key component to using 3D visuals in a film - those that draw depth in the world of the picture.
Depth usually seems like the easier field for a 3D film to manipulate, simply because you can separate characters and their environments to a degree that the world inside the frame makes sense. That being said, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has some really impressive shots that show the depth of the images on screen, as they break from the typical displays of endless backgrounds and crowds. Both of those are still present, however there are shots where the camera moves through objects, such as Grimmel’s open airship and the Hidden World of dragons itself, which give the audience a feast for their eyes. The depth is not only drawn through pure distance between characters and their environments, there are also actual scenes where the camera moves through interiors, only to wind up back in the exterior world.
Ok, here’s an interesting lesson learned during How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. The showing observed for this evaluation took place at a theater that does dine-in service, offering various foods that are prepared in the kitchen of the theater, and brought out to audience members in the theater. This detail is mentioned because, in addition to the usual “mileage may vary” warning about how a theater maintains its projector’s brightness, you must also take into account that in a dine-in theater, there are small lights that remain on during the duration of the film. While this helps look at your menu at any point in a film’s run, it also really screws with a 3D film’s brightness factor, as you’ve got multiple mini light sources polluting the purity of the experience. So if you’re planning on seeing a 3D movie, and your theater of choice is a dine-in experience, you may want to find a different venue.
With the level of 3D manipulation on display in How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, there’s clearly got to be some similarly impressive blur to confirm the level of effort expended on such a sight, right? That’s absolutely correct in the this example, as the entirety of the final How To Train Your Dragon film is blurred to various degrees. From the backgrounds taking a huge amount of the blur onto themselves, to the more subtle levels used for close ups and character driven moments, there are no awkward 2D segments, save for the usual points that anchor the rest of the 3D palette.
There’s an insane amount of action that is presented in How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, as no good finale would be complete without a showstopping conclusion. What’s also insane is the fact that there’s no disruptive effects that would threaten to do a number on your eyes and stomach. Start to finish, it’s a smooth ride into the 3D world of Hiccup and Toothless with their exploits tumbling through the sort of adventurous path one would expect from How To Train Your Dragon’s universe. And thankfully, this final ride is just as effortless as the last two trips.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a gold standard 3D conversion, which is pretty essential viewing in this premium format. The pedigree this series has followed since day one is upheld to the highest degree, providing the audience that chooses to take advantage of its existence with a truly impressive experience. But, as per usual, find a theater that you trust to maintain its projecting equipment in order to get the full effect of what the folks who worked tirelessly on this film have achieved.
How will you see How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World?
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