I hate writing negative reviews for movies. I know I’ve done them before on this site, but there’s a difference between a bad movie that I go in expecting to be bad and go, “Yup, this meets my expectations!” and a movie I’m excited about that just....fall flat. I’ll try to leave this review as spoiler free as possible, considering it came out...today? I think? I know some people got to see it last week, and it officially has a release date of Friday and I’m writing this at 11:59 on a Thursday. Also, nobody edited this for me, I’m sure there’s a bunch of mistakes in my rage. Therefore: No beta, we die like men.
How to Train your Dragon: the Hidden World broke my heart and left me disappointed and that’s definitely a sentence I hate writing.
I LOVE the How to Train your Dragon franchise. The first movie was okay and definitely interesting, and the second one was so jaw-droppingly good I pretty much had a fit when Frozen got won an Oscar over it (also because The Wind Rises got robbed but that’s a whole different review). I had really, really high expectations for HTTYD3. Dreamworks has a hit or miss problem with their sequels in their animated series. The third installments tend to be really weak, but at the very least are entertaining. I was mildly entertained at best, but I’m so disappointed, so this review is going to have to be a bulleted list.
We’re going to start with The Bad, because it unfortunately outweighs the good:
- The whole movie is just...weak. In the first movie, we have high stakes of Berk, the homeland, being destroyed, only to uncover that things can be much, much worse. The second movie also has significantly high stakes; people die, there’s a threat that this boy, who you can tell loves his dragon without seeing the first movie is going to lose HIS dragon, and he’s fighting with his dad, and his mom might be alive, and there’s a lot going on that makes a really nice, complex story while still being interesting for kids and adults. This movie has none of it. It has high stakes, but instead of building them up and threatening to knock them down, they kind of just....throw it as hard as they can on top of the fridge and call it a day. There’s a threat, but there’s no real consequences behind it. We don’t see the emotional response to it, we’re not worried for the characters. It’s entirely plot driven. And that’s baffling to me. I like HTTYD because it focuses a lot on character development through plot, and we always have an emotional connection through the characters and their dragons. The franchise has never been “this happens, and this is how he reacted to it” outright and has the audience just accept that. They SHOW us the relationship and the struggles behind it, the intentions behind it, and so forth. There’s a reason for everything that’s shown in a very realistic way that’s not just telling the audience what the problem is. I didn’t get that from this movie.
- Also weak: The plot. There are so many plot holes in this movie. So very, very many. It seems like a major problem with the writing is that they had an ending in mind, tried to cobble something together, wrote themselves in a corner, and then threw up their hands and called it a day. Did I miss something major here? I didn’t watch a lot of the HTTYD shows, but if a lot of the plot is fixed by watching the show, I don’t know if that’s a great movie. I’m a firm believer that spin-off shows should supplement the plot and not be a major contributor (unlike another game franchise that ends with 3 but is actually the 10TH GAME IN THE SERIES). The writers knew the ending, and they didn’t care how they got there as long as they got there.
- And here’s the part that really, really got me: The flying sequence in this movie is not good. HTTYD has these legendary flight scenes with great music. Did you know that the first movie has TWO flight sequences, and when the orchestra finished playing the music for the movie recording, they applauded the composer because they all liked it THAT much? Doesn’t happen in this movie. The music is just okay, and even worse, I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters in the scene. If it had been Toothless by himself, I would have liked it, but they added another character into the scene that we have at maximum, maybe two reasons to care about, and those two reasons aren’t there because it’s trying to show us something about Toothless, it’s there because it’s Plot Exposition and that is terrible.
The good has more points on it, but they’re all relatively unimportant things.
- The humor in the movie was great. I complained about this movie not being terribly...”heavy”, I guess, but it wasn’t because the humor in it was too much. You can have a good movie that’s heavy with humor; in fact, that’s entirely what the Cornetto trilogy does. The humor doesn’t detract from this movie, but it doesn’t add anything, either. It’s still funny as hell!
- People make fun of Dreamworks because of the Dreamworks face, but you have to admit, they do a VERY good job on not making their female characters girl mcsame face . Towards the end of the movie, a character shows up and she’s so different looking than any other characters I’ve seen and I was delighted. [Editor’s Note: There are supposed to be links in this paragraph. I dont know if they got properly transposed, but if not you’re welcome, dear readers]
- The scenery porn for this franchise is still ON POINT. I complained about the flight sequence before for not being as emotionally connecting, but it’s certainly not any less pretty.
- More on the graphics: There’s a scene that involves drawing in the sand, and holy hell, the visuals for incredible. You can see every individual grain of sand! That’s INSANE. A lot of movies that have hyperrealism with people bother me, because if there’s hyper realistic details, it’s jarring to see cartoon people, but somehow it just works for HTTYD.
- There are little touches back to the HTTYD 1 and 2, and even Shrek, which is a nice touch. See if you can spot them.
- DRAGON BABIES DRAGON BABIES AUUUUGH SO CUTE yeah the dragons are still adorable and charming in their own ways.
- The last scenes is something I’ve personally been waiting for. I promised no spoilers and I intend to keep it, but HICCUP IS A GROWN MAN NOW AND I’M VERY HAPPY FOR HIM.
Final verdict: 5.5/10, cute movie with no plot. They went out with a fizzle instead of a bang. You know how this whole review seems kind of half baked and I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong with it but I’m talking about it anyway? That’s what this movie feels like. Still gonna go buy the merch because that shit’s holographic and that’s my jam, though.