How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ★★★★½

Oh jesus. Just barely scrapes by as my least favourite of the trilogy, and I think that might be because of the lack of action. There’s quite a lot of quiet moments in this one but it’s never properly juxtaposed with full action scenes. They weren’t boring, it’s just a little jarring that after the second instalment, one of the best action films in a year with John Wick, Snowpiercer’s wide release, and Edge of Tomorrow, that the structure and spirit would follow the first film closer. There are 2 action sequences in this film in which the characters actually fight and aren’t being beaten up, that being the first scene (barely) and the 3rd act. It’s just a weird juxtaposition that I don’t really get. Also, this has the worst humour in the trilogy. Not that all of it is bad, in fact most of it I liked. Actually, it has some of the best jokes in the trilogy as well. I liked the quips, the running gag with Tuffnut’s marriage advice (also, replacing TJ Miller and then giving Tuffnut WAY more screen time is SUCH an alpha move that I ABSOLUTELY approve of) and also the gag where the sheep bleeps into the wind like he feels like he’s a flying made me crack far more that it should’ve. I could go on about what I liked, but I didn’t like everything. It was mainly overdrawn running gags that I was impartial to, e.g. Snotlout’s fight for Valka (and leadership? I guess?) plus his insecurities over Eret (voiced by Kit Harrington, who was such hilarious choice to market the film on). Just stupid lines that interrupted the flow of scenes., really. Buuuut, this is so also fucking good. Of course the animation has improved so much over the years, and this film looks so stunning that I’m going to credit Roger Deakins for everything and completely ignore everyone else who may have contributed to it. There are entire wordless sequences in this film that are absolutely breathtaking, mainly Toothless and Light Fury (yes, that’s her official character name, I have the wiki open on a separate page) flying through the storm cloud. The naturalistic lighting looks fantastic, just the way that the sunlight hits the faces of the characters is a beautiful touch. The pacing is a little off, but again that’s probably just because of the strange mix of the 1st’s spirit and the 2nd’s presentation, but it’s less jarring and more natural when your left with some time to digest it. The character work in this film is wonderful. Light fury’s introduction is jarring, but the relationship progresses so naturally. Hiccup being grounded also initially caught me off guard, but as the film progresses, it becomes a very subtle touch that adds to how isolated he feels in trying to be a leader. I guess I don’t like that Astrid is more or less is delegated giving Hiccup advice, and that Valka is delegated to giving Astrid advice about giving Hiccup advice, but Astrid and Hiccup still really do have that chemistry. The mountain top scene in this one is less gentle and cutesy than the mountain top scene in the second film, but it never loses sight of how this romance is a sort of secondary or tertiary heart of the series. Oh god, and I just love how the romance theme, or more specifically the track romantic flight, is incorporated into the climactic battle. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s awesome. Speaking of the climax, heh, um, wow. It’s such an exhilarating ride with enough humour, heart and EpIcNeSs to make it into my favourite climax of the series. And then, there’s the ending, which makes all misgivings I have about the film almost irrelevant. I think it’s the hardest I’ve ever cried at a film that doesn’t involve a character death, and maybe the hardest I’ve ever cried at a film, definitely the most I’ve been affected from an emotional scene like that. But everything just fits so incredibly well. All of the dialogue is stellar, Jay Baruchel’s line delivery is perfect, everything about it is flawless. The whole chain of events is absolutely perfect, and beautiful to watch unravel. The Hiccup’s goodbye, the wedding, the 10 year reunion, just the final flight and monologue is on point. The whole last 10 minute block is maybe the most satisfying ending to any film and any trilogy I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t hold myself as the credits rolled, man, it was great. So, this film has it’s flaws, flaws that are far more noticeable when looking back on it, but the elements that this trilogy does in strides are the same that carry it to Valhalla. Stunning cinematography, great characters and more are so jammed packed in these films that you can never look away. This constantly engaging trilogy has brought me so much joy, and made everything seem a little less terrible over this week, that all I can really say is, Thank You Dean DeBlois.