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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Trains the Audience in Self-Sacrifice

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  After two movies, several holiday specials, six seasons of a TV show, multiple video games, and many adorable dragons, the nine year-old How to Train Your Dragon franchise said goodbye in a bittersweet finale.

  The film, directed by Dean DeBlois, opened across America’s screens on February 22nd. Select fans got to experience the movie early on February 2nd. Many theaters showing the early-access sold out.

  How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World stars the young viking chief, Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, and his dragonic companion Toothless as they face challenges such as moving their civilization, finding the Hidden World, and pursuing romantic interests. Many fans were sceptical at the addition of a love interest, an elusive Lightfury, for Toothless, as introducing a romantic subplot so late in the series was seen as cliche and lazy.

  However, the plot point worked in naturally with the main theme of the movie: learning to let go. Letting go of pride, homeland, childhood, and important people, or dragons, in one’s lifetime is a central conflict for every character as they attempt to move on with their lives. Their ties to these aforementioned things keep them from doing so, though, forcing the characters to cut these old ties in order to create new ones.

  The most potent example of this is when Hiccup becomes an overly-doting parent towards his Nightfury once Toothless becomes obsessed with the feral female. The nameless Lightfury refuses to let Hiccup get close to her, so he invents a faux tail fin for Toothless to fly off alone. Like the first movie, Toothless and Hiccup’s relationship is the main focus, as it is tested through the introduction of the Lightfury and Toothless’s desire to fly free with her.

  The villain this time around, a dragon hunter hired by warlords named Grimmel, is a more interesting antagonist compared to the second movie’s Drago. He acts as a foil towards Hiccup – when given the chance to either murder or save a Nightfury, Grimmel chose to slaughter it. He develops into the exact opposite of Hiccup, seeing dragons as only controllable weapons, not loyal and intelligent companions. While Grimmel is not as immediately as intimidating as the Red Death or Drago, he quickly becomes the toughest opponent the duo has faced from his wit.

  The score and animation are once again superb. The music by John Powell continues to captivate as the score soars along with Toothless in the sky. The strong strings and horns echo throughout the theatre bring about goosebumps to the viewers. The animation is stunning, from the individual sand particles that move as characters draw on the beach to the realistic animalistic movements of the dragons. The Lightfury’s scales glimmer when the warm sunlight touches her, while the rocks that jut out of waterfalls look bleak and terrifying..

  The only thing the movie suffers from is its comedy. Targeted mainly towards younger audiences, the comedic moments are either running jokes that get old fast or physical humor. There are jokes for adults sprinkled about, but they can’t make up for the comedy that fell flat.

  All that becomes inconsequential because of the final ten minutes. The finale of the film deals two quick punches of the gut, one right after the other. It’s a sad but satisfying end to the film.

 The director has no plans for another movie surrounding Toothless and Hiccup. He’s open for spinoffs, but only on other characters in different timeframes.

  Movie trilogies aimed at children tend to stumble and fall, but not for the How to Train Your Dragon series. It’s been an important series to many people for many years. There was no better way for the series to go out on than with a touching ending to soar one’s heart into the sky.

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Trains the Audience in Self-Sacrifice