"It rounds the franchise off well, and its final message for viewers of all ages will seem heartwarming but nonetheless bittersweet"
How To Train Your Dragon’s third and final instalment dazzles as Toothless and Hiccup’s last daring adventure sees them flee their Berkian dragon utopia and delve into the unknown.
After 5 years of waiting with baited breath, the final instalment of the franchise that brought us the wonderful inhabitants of Berk is at our feet, and has given us more than enough to be excited about. To make it even more of a hit for the biggest London fans, special screenings were shown with a rather brilliant attraction on the side, which The Fan Carpet took a look at for ourselves: at the Collins Music Hall in Islington, the isle of Berk was truly brought to life, with activities for young ones and adult Vikings alike - including dragon riding school and warrior face painting. For superfans of the saga, it was truly the best precursor the film one could get. The main event, though, was an immersive screening in the music hall itself, complete with lighting ready to synchronise with the film at a moments notice.
The film opens on our heroes, Hiccup, Astrid, Snoutlout and more of the team raid a ship full of dragons captured by hunters. The team escape, rescuing all but one dragon (keep an eye on this), and for the first time viewers see the isle of Berk in its glory of dragon and human population living together, albeit overcrowded. All the while, the villain of the final chapter, a night fury killer named Grimmel (who, quite frankly, echoes the look and even demeanour of food critic Anton Ego from the much less epic but nonetheless entertaining Ratatouille) is plotting to rid the world of Toothless, supposedly the last Night Fury, by using a lethal and unknowing hostage to his advantage.
As Hiccup fills his role of chief, succeeding his late father Stoick, he knows that he must do right by his people, and his dragon. So, he decides he will do right by his father and endeavour to find the Hidden World, a dragon haven where all species, dragon and human, young and old, could just maybe live side by side. Is it just me or is this an echo of what the world is trying and failing to do right now? While I appreciate the stoic reference to real life, I would prefer to leave subtle digs at the world’s bigger problems at the door to the cinema.
This brings me onto what this film really does, for children and adults alike. Most family movies make every dream come true, and teaches that all will be well in the end, no matter what happens. The last instalment of Hiccup and Toothless’ story delves slightly deeper than this; it shows that happily ever after, while always somehow reachable, isn’t always what you believe it will be. While not vastly different from the second chapter, it still gives one the sense of excitement, suspense, and warmth, even in the hearts of parents who were only really there to take their children to the cinema.
Having been made four years after the second film, The Hidden World improves again on the quality of picture and animation. Its execution in the movie was all but flawless (on a more personal note, the fact that individual strands of hair are distinguishable in animation still astounds me), and the close-ups on various characters just made this all the more apparent. The return of all the favourite dragon species - all at once, on one island - made for fantastic scenes from a visual perspective, including battle scenes that I will not go into detail on (the magic awaits, ladies and gents).
For the most part, the final instalment probably doesn’t live up to the hype of the second or first film. It is visually stunning, and the story is as epic as can be. However, it does echo some similar plot points from its predecessors - apart from one of Toothless’ storylines that finally diverges from the chief dragon rider himself. Despite some samey plot lines and a plethora of clichés, the film still impresses in many ways; Toothless, Hiccup, Valka and the rest of the gang give us a romp to remember. It rounds the franchise off well, and its final message for viewers of all ages will seem heartwarming but nonetheless bittersweet.
If anything, it is certainly worth a trip to your local IMAX.