How to Train Your Dragon (2019)

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We interrupt this blog for an irregularly scheduled broadcast: I went back and looked at my original intention for this blog from several years ago and spied the line about not having a “convoluted rating system.” While I’m not abandoning the idea of having a rating system, I’m paring it down. Therefore, from now on: one star per section displayed in the “Award Corner.” If I feel like it has something to give in that area it earns a star, if it doesn’t, then no stars for you. The blog will still be broken down into Plot, Acting, Visuals, Music, and the last star will be my seal of approval on the whole shebang. 5 stars = A, 4 = B, etc.

Thank you for your attention. Now back to the blog!

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Director: Dean Deblois

Actors: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrara

Award Corner: ☆☆☆☆☆ – A

When it comes to animated movies and sequels, usually you can tell how good the sequel will be based on the amount of time between release dates. For some, like Finding Dory, and Incredibles 2, audiences had to wait an absurd amount of time, past the point where people assumed a sequel would not happen. Luckily, How to Train Your Dragon has consistently delivered a new movie about every 5 years. First released in 2010, viewers became enamored with Toothless and Hiccup almost immediately. I’m happy to say that DreamWorks has managed to end the trilogy with breathtaking animation and a bittersweet end to the saga of the world’s favorite dragon. Movie Buddy (MB) was kind enough to take me to see this one as part of my birthday celebrations and I fell, once again, in love with all things dragon.

Plot:

In an effort not to give away too many spoilers, this is a beautiful story with many separate elements. First, there is the overarching theme of a new home for the dragons. What’s gone from a handful of dragons has turned into Berk being overwhelmed and overrun with all manner of creatures. As chief, Hiccup has to figure out what’s in the best interest for his people and his dragons. He receives lots of support from his mother and from Astrid. The two lovebirds dance around each other the entire movie, neither willing to commit to the next stage of their relationship. There’s, of course, a villain. We learn who was responsible for the death of all but one (or so we thought) of the Night Furies. As far as villains go, I’ve seen scarier, even compared to the previous Dragons movie, though they tried to paint Grimmel as terrifying. And then of course, there’s Toothless. As the last Night Fury, he honestly has no idea how to be a Night Fury, so when it comes to wooing his lady friend, he turns to his best friend for help. I won’t reveal details of the end, but I am extremely happy with how the ended the trilogy, and while I didn’t cry, it was close.

Acting:

It’s an animated movie. There’s not much to comment on. The voiceover work was flawless as ever and I’m pleased that they’ve managed to retain the same voice actors for almost all of the characters. I’m not quite sure why they included Eret again, voiced by Kit Harrington, as he didn’t really matter much to the overall plot (unless they just really wanted Jon Snow to be with Dragons again). Other than that, they did brilliant work and it shows. I’m sure it was bittersweet to voice the characters for the last time.

Visuals:

Now this, this is one of the few movies I wholeheartedly recommend seeing in 3D. Usually animated movies are good in 3D, but not fantastic. I’m so glad I was convinced to see it in 3D. The colors are astounding, the depth impressive, and it’s an overall breathtaking piece of work. I was personally captivated by the animation of the hair. The amount of detail must have taken ages (about five years, perhaps?) and it shows. The motions are seamless. Every character moves, breathes, blinks, and interacts precisely as a real actor would. The colors are even more vibrant than those I saw in Avatar and Aquaman (which are both impressive in their own rights) and you feel completely surrounded by the world that they have created.

Music:

As I type this up, I’m listening to the soundtrack. John Powell does not disappoint, and in fact I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by this particular composer. The main themes that we are familiar with from the previous Dragons are woven throughout, with clear identifiable strains to mark some of the new characters. The music is instantly identifiable as belonging to the world of Berk and beyond. It reminds me a lot of some of the instrumental Celtic/New Age music I’ve heard, very light and airy, filled with woodwinds, harps, even a hint of bagpipes but yet counterpointed by trumpets and strings perfectly. I’m one of those people who believes that the background music can either break or make a movie. In this case, it definitely makes it. The animation wouldn’t mean nearly as much without the music to back it up.

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Overall: An excellent conclusion to the trilogy with the work I’ve come to expect from a DreamWorks movie. Good for young and old alike and for once definitely worth seeing in 3D!

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