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How to Train Your Dragon 3 Early Reviews: A Lovely & Touching Finale

Early reviews for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World praise the movie for being a beautifully animated and touching conclusion to the trilogy. The Hidden World had its world premiere in Sydney a couple weeks back, ahead of its U.S. theatrical release in February. While there were once (very) tentative plans to make a How to Train Your Dragon 4, series director Dean DeBlois has since confirmed The Hidden World will end the franchise, its TV spinoffs included.

The first How to Train Your Dragon movie hit theaters in 2010 and quickly became a critical darling, thanks to its gorgeous animation and heartfelt story based on Cressida Cowell's original books. Jay Baruchel lent his voice to the film as Hiccup, a ungainly teenager from the Viking village Berk who comes to befriend a dragon he names Toothless (for his retractable teeth) and ultimately end hostilities between the Vikings and dragons. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was released four years later and caught up with Hiccup and Toothless in real-time, as the pair encountered new enemies and Hiccup reunited with his long-lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett). Sadly, their happy reunion was cut short when Hiccup's father Stoick (Gerard Butler) was killed and Hiccup was dubbed Berk's new chieftain.

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Now comes The Hidden World, the final film in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. The movie takes place a year after How to Train Your Dragon 2 and reveals what happened to the dragons and why they no longer live alongside humans. To find our what critics think of the film so far, read these spoiler-free excerpts from the first wave of reviews following its Sydney premiere. You can click the corresponding links for the full reviews.

Astrid and Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon The Hidden World

Peter Debruge, Variety

While not quite the “Boyhood” of animated movies (that time-lapse approach doesn’t really translate to the medium), “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” packs the emotional heft of the dozen or so years it has taken to get this far... [Writer/director] Dean DeBlois conceived installments two and three together, constructing a trilogy that enriches the original while also serving to entertain newcomers who know none of the backstory...

Michael Rechtshaffen, THR

Pulling off a rare three-peat, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a tender, spirited coming-of-age CG-animated feature that proves every bit as emotionally resonant and artistically rendered as its 2010 and 2014 predecessors, if not even more so. Credit that evident quality control to returning director-screenwriter Dean DeBlois, again finding inspiration from Cressida Cowell’s children’s books (there are a dozen in all) and an engaging voice cast headed by Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera.

Sarah Ward, Screen International

Aided by its high-profile returning voice cast... The Hidden World brings plenty of character to its child-friendly drama, with heart and laughs taking precedence over tension. The film’s coming-of-age story might remain familiar, its emotional arc may be broad, and its messages about self-belief and taking chances fall into the tried-and-tested camp, but [director Dean DeBlois] still builds an engaging, sincere and tender world brimming with depth and detail.

Robert Abele, The Wrap

As much as we’d like the appearance of a threequel to mean, “Hey, here are all the cool ideas we couldn’t wedge into the first two,” the cold reality always starts with, “We think there’s more money to be made!” But sometimes, there are organically convincing extenders, and in the animation world, those exceptions include “Toy Story 3” [and] now, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” writer-director Dean DeBlois’ delightful, gorgeous, and touchingly conclusive third adaptation of author Cressida Cowell’s fantastical universe of Vikings and fire-breathers.

Jennifer Bisset, CNET

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a near perfect trilogy ender, safely landing an occasionally kid-unfriendly dragon ride. A story about a boy and his best friend, its timeless values are delivered with spades of wit and epic adventure. After three brilliant rides, we bid farewell to one of the best film trilogies of all time.

Michael Nordine, IndieWire

Though obviously aimed at kiddos, this chapter of “How to Train Your Dragon” might be best appreciated by below-the-line enthusiasts with an appreciation for the nitty-gritty that goes into an animated movie with a reported price tag of $129 million. You can see every cent onscreen, often in more vivid detail than you can see Hiccup’s internal journey. That’s enough to carry “The Hidden World” past the finish line - and make you hope it stays finished.

The Hidden World is currently sitting at 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes after its first half-dozen reviews or so. That number will almost certainly go down in the future, but not too much if the positive early reactions are any indicator. For comparison's sake, How to Train Your Dragon currently sits at 98% Fresh on RT after 205 reviews (with an average rating of 7.9/10) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 is 91% Fresh after 175 reviews (with an average rating of 7.7/10). The Hidden's World average rating sits at 7/10 right now, but that number may yet inch up as more and more critics weigh in.

Generally speaking, it seems The Hidden World clears the bar for quality set by the previous two How to Train Your Dragon films. The reviews suggest the animation is as dazzling as ever and the franchise's themes have continued to mature and deepen, the third time around. It doesn't necessarily sound like the best entry in the franchise - some critics feel its narrative treads all-too familiar territory for a kids movie - but The Hidden World apparently sticks the landing all the same.

Here's looking forward to saying farewell to Hiccup and Toothless next month - and, most likely, shedding some tears along the way.

MORE: Every Movie Releasing in 2019

Source: Various [see the above links]

Key Release Dates
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) release date: Feb 22, 2019
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