Runner Review: ‘How To Train Your Dragon 3’ doesn’t fly as high as others



By Jorge Avila, Opinion Writer

Jorge's rating:

“How to Train Your Dragon,” directed by Dean DeBlois, first arrived in 2010 and became an instant hit, capturing the hearts of many and spawning an entire franchise.  Similar to its hero Hiccup, the film was an underdog in a summer full of heavy hitting blockbusters. It still managed to garner the attention of moviegoers with its unique premise and stunning animation.   Fast-forward 9 years and we’ve reached the franchise’s third and final installment: “The Hidden World.”

The story opens with our hero Hiccup, along with his ragtag group of fellow vikings, rescuing a swathe of captured dragons.  The film’s central struggle then revolves around needing to find a new home in order to compensate for a growing population, all while avoiding the advances of infamous dragon hunter, Grimmel.

Right away, the most noteworthy aspect to the film is its gorgeous animation.  All throughout there are scenes that are jaw-droppingly beautiful and incredibly impressive from a technical point of view.  It really makes you admire how far the animation industry has come when an animated character such as Toothless can have so much detail and texture that he actually looks like a physical, tangible being.  There’s one scene especially on a beach where I found myself in awe over how unbelievably real the sand looked- sand of all things!

The character designs are all equally as impressive, especially the dragons who all stand out with their unique traits and colorations.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the story.  How to Train Your Dragon was always notable for having mature themes and subtle storytelling that could be enjoyed by people of all ages, but this is the first film in the franchise that honestly feels empty, which is disappointing considering it’s the last one.

The plot involving dragon hunter Grimmel feels so been-there done-that and leads up to an incredibly unexciting final battle that gets resolved way too quickly.  The film’s secondary plot about finding a new home also builds up to a disappointing and predictable conclusion.  Add to that a cast of annoying and crude characters and you get a film that just feels very forgettable.

Top Critic David Sims says the movie “is stuffed with filler material” and argues it runs on empty for most of the runtime.  Joe Morgenstern of Wall Street Journal also criticizes its weak and disjointed plot, stating it’s a disappointing conclusion to a franchise “that gave great pleasure and stayed on too long.”

Despite the mixed reception, the film still stands at a 92% rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes. While it’s nowhere near as enjoyable as the last two entries in the franchise, it’s still a good time in theaters.