Granger on Film / ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’ is enchanting, endearing
This is the third installment in the animated fantasy franchise that began in 2010, chronicling how teenage Hiccup (Canadian actor Jay Baruchel) befriended fire-breathing Toothless, breaking the Viking tradition of fighting with dragons.
In the 2014 sequel, Hiccup succeeded his late father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), as tribal chieftain, following the lead of his widowed mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), a dragon-whisperer.
According to Hiccup, the island village of Berk is now “the world’s first dragon-Viking utopia.” But there are problems — like overcrowding at mealtimes and the unwelcome influx of dragon hunters, particularly a villainous poacher known as Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham).
Along with his fiancee Astrid (America Ferrera), Hiccup watches as Toothless, thought to be the last of the inky-black Night Fury species, falls in love with a blue-eyed, alabaster-skinned female dragon, dubbed Light Fury by Astrid.
So they travel to the mythical Hidden World at the edge of the Earth, the ancestral dragon habitat, and Toothless courts Light Fury in a high-flying mating dance.
Hiccup’s friends supply comedic relief, like Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the birdbrained twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple). Plus, the Hobgobblers (i.e. tiny, round, fanged monsters who multiply like Star Trek’s Tribbles).
But, as Hiccup’s father once said, “With love comes loss, son; it’s part of the deal.”
Embracing a commitment to diversity, trilogy writer/director Dean DeBlois, adapting Cressida Cowell’s children’s book series, previously had the blacksmith Gobber (Craig Ferguson) come out as gay and Hiccup has become an amputee.
“I was aware of so many veterans coming back from service in Afghanistan and Iraq having lost limbs,” DeBlois says. “The idea of heroism, sacrifice, and I wanted a character to reinforce that you’re no less a hero for having lost something.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World” is an enchanting, endearing 8, a bittersweet, coming-of-age conclusion.