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Peter T Chattaway

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

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Links to our threads on How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014).

Link to our thread on DreamWorks animated films in general.

The threequel will come June 9, 2017. While this is a shorter gap than the gap between the first two movies, the studio was apparently planning to release it sooner, but had to "push" the release date back a year or so.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Director Dean DeBlois tells The Hollywood Reporter:

 

“I’m halfway through the script. It’s continues to track Hiccup’s coming of age, but it’s also equally shared now that Hiccup and Toothless are chiefs of their clans. The story also follows Toothless’ storyline, and I think audiences will like that because they seem to respond well to Toothless’ antics and what seems to be going on in his head.”

 

Academy Award nominated Dragon 2 picks up five year’s after the story in the Oscar nominated 2010 film. DeBlois said the third would “continue to play with the timeline, but the story itself doesn’t jump year’s ahead; it actually plays back in time and forward. So there’s an element of meeting Hiccup at different period of his life.

 

The film has also now been bumped to 2018.

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And then the film got bumped (in North America, at least; it's been out overseas for a while now) to February 2019.

My daughter and I saw this recently and loved it. Definitely better than the second film. The trilogy is kind of significant for us because the first film -- which came out nine years ago! -- marked the first time that I took any of my kids to a media screening. My daughter was four years old at the time. She was eight when I took her to the second film, and the death of Hiccup's father -- at the hands of their pet dragon! -- traumatized her. Now my daughter is thirteen (she and her twin brother turned thirteen just one week ago, I have teenagers now, what is going *on* here), and the new movie, appropriately, is about the passage of time and letting people grow up and become more independent.

In a way, the theme of "letting go" is something that this film might have in common with Ralph Breaks the Internet. But where it seemed kind of random and didn't work at all over there, it works very well and very naturally over here, inasmuch as the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless is part parent-child and part friend-friend, and Toothless's relationship with the female dragon -- the "Light Fury" -- challenges the bond between human and dragon in the same way that a person's romantic relationship can complicate that person's relationship with his or her parents or friends, who may not be entirely sure how to bring this new person into the family/friendship dynamic. 

Darn it, I actually shed a couple tears near the end, as the film worked out what it means to love someone by putting not just that person's needs ahead of your own, but the needs of *the person they love*. 

The film looked beautiful, and I wish it had been in 3D, as I believe the first movie's preview screening was. (I can't remember if the second movie's preview screening was.) It seems the studios have given up on pushing 3D at their preview screenings -- I had to go back to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a second time just to see what those visuals were like in 3D -- and, as a 3D fan myself, I find that a bit disappointing. There are great images here of flight, clouds, storms, flocks of dragons, etc., and if they looked as good as they did "flat", I can only imagine how they'll look once depth is added to the equation. But, y'know, at least this is a film that I *like* and wouldn't mind going out of my way to see again, schedule permitting.

More thoughts later, perhaps. 

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FWIW, here's my mostly positive review.

Quote

Better than the second, but nowhere near as enchanting as the original, the third (and likely final) installment in the How to Train Your Dragon saga is mostly conventional storytelling with bursts of visual beauty and wonder. The detail in the animation is the strongest I’ve seen in these films. Swarms (flocks? herds?) of dragons in flight outlined against the sky never cease to amaze. Yet there are also smaller moments–a handful of sand, mist from a waterfall, lighting in a storm cloud–which highlight the animators’ keen attention to detail. The design of the various dragons is also impressive, and it’s fun to see some new species in action. When we’re finally taken to see the dragons’ hidden realm, its worth the wait–the colors and world-building are just breathtaking, and the entire sequence elicits moments of genuine awe. So it’s a bit disappointing that these scenes of flight and fancy are so few, and that many of the action sequences take place under the foggy cover of night. I wanted to see the beauty, but the film often chooses to forgo vibrance for darkness, exposition, or attempts at humor.

The animation is truly remarkable, especially noticeable with the natural elements like water, sand, grass, and clouds. But I really struggled with the central conflict here, or lack thereof, and the villain felt pretty silly to me. In the first film, the Vikings and dragons have to overcome their prejudice, as well as a Satan-like monster keeping the dragons in bondage, so it's a film of liberation. The second and third films, while still keeping themes of love and freedom within the narrative--like Peter's point about "letting go"--often give more attention to battle sequences or adolescent humor. Still, the original film is still one of the best uses of 3D I've experienced in the theaters where I found the added dimension of depth truly enhanced the film rather than distracted from it (other films on that small list for me: Hugo, Gravity, and Valerian), and I wish I could have seen this in 3D too.

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Joel, in your review you wrote: "My theater full of kids and parents was pretty silent, even during a *very* long scene with Wiig’s captured Ruffnut annoying Grimmel until he lets her go." My own theatre was definitely *not* silent during this scene.

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That's interesting, Peter. I know humor can depend on one's cultural context, so I wonder if some of the jokes just didn't work for the British audience, as opposed to a Canadian or American (even though those latter cultures also differ in their humor). The most engagement I heard was when Hiccup and Astrid flew into the hidden world for the first time--lots of "whoa!" moments from the kids around me.

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Weirdest looking pandas I ever saw. And the kung fu was more like generic fighting. Other than that, a serviceable entry into a generic franchise.

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Darn it, I actually shed a couple tears near the end, 

My daughters and I are looking forward to shedding a couple ourselves this weekend! Their anticipation for this movie rivals mine at their age, when I was waiting for The Empire Strikes Back.

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Darren H wrote:
My daughters and I are looking forward to shedding a couple ourselves this weekend! Their anticipation for this movie rivals mine at their age, when I was waiting for The Empire Strikes Back.

How'd it go? I was driving my daughter and a few of her friends to a basketball game before the movie came out, and at least one of her friends was *really* excited about the movie. I don't remember waiting for The Empire Strikes Back, but I *definitely* remember waiting for Return of the Jedi (which came out when I was 12), and the three years between movies seemed interminable. Whereas it's been *five* years since the last How to Train Your Dragon movie...

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A scene from the drive home:

Wren (6): Daddy, could you tell that I was trying really hard to not cry at the end?
Rory (8): Me too.
Darren (46): Me too. I think it was Fishlegs hugging Meatlug goodbye that finally got me.

We saw it last Friday night and then spent a rainy weekend stuck in the house, so we rewatched the first two. You know, it really holds up as a trilogy. Keith Phipps wrote a nice piece about how each of the films is built around transition points in Hiccup's life.

Edited by Darren H

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