Hiccup’s mum has got it going on…
I went into this film wondering why DreamWorks were so willing to kill off one of their best franchises after three films (don’t get me wrong a trilogy is nice) but it becomes quite apparent that with a villain whose motivation doesn’t extend beyond I Am Evil Because I Am Evil there just a general flatness to the film that the previous two films managed to elevate themselves from.
The humour skews significantly more childish and young than either of the other two instalments and there isn’t a single standout piece of comedy and much of the humour is just sad and cringe – by which I mean Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) are still two of the worst comic relief characters going; sitting through the scene where Ruffnut is in jail is AGONY and Snotlout’s repeated mentioning of his beard and “if you need a beard to cry on” was kind of weird and I genuinely thought they were building up to a gay reveal. The rest of it is middling with a smattering of fart and poop jokes – it’s fine but they sound like they were filmed several weeks after the main recording session at the request of the studio. Or Kristen Wiig’s agent asked for more lines.
The character, creature and environmental design are, as ever, the strongest part of the film. The titular Hidden World is breathtakingly beautiful with its glowing dragon eggs, iridescent flora and crystal structures and works very well to soften the blow of the dragons potentially leaving the Berkians. While most of the dragons do tend to blur into one big mass of googly-eyed, protruding teeth and blue scales but it at least lets the two Night Furies stand out – Toothless is as cute as ever and the newly found “Bright Fury”, who looks like a cross between an axolotl and a cat is a delight and I need a plush toy IMMEDIATELY. Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), the evilest villain who ever eviled and who looks like he might be the ancestor of Anton Ego from Ratatouille, has some really cool scorpion-esque dragons who he controls by drugging them with their own venom – the film can be dark when it wants to be – Grimmel kills a dragon on screen and it is brutal in its lack of emotion – I just wish Grimmel had more of an endgame to his dragon eradication plan.
Along with the new dragons the main dragon riders all have new winged battlesuits which are designed almost exclusively to shift action figures (capitalism always wins in the end) but bonus points for giving all three (yup, I know right) female characters decent armour and at least they look good? I mean Hiccup does look like Dr. Ranj in his Gimpy Motorcycle Clown Inferno outfit, convince me otherwise:
The blossoming relationship between Toothless and Bright Fury is really cute and compelling, although it does mean the film has a 10 minute dragon sex education class about halfway through which is, let’s say illuminating. It’s worth it because I will never not find animals making heart shapes adorable, IT JUST IS.
With Astrid and Hiccup it is little vague, it’s difficult to tell which of them is more or least into the idea of marriage at any one time, it chops and changes, because both are very preoccupied with their dragons. However, the film does want you to know that Gobber wants to have sex with Hiccup’s mother. It is a running joke that is creepy and I did not like it.
It does however still manage to have a lot of the heart and warmth of the previous two and Jay Baruchel does a wonderful job of giving Hiccup emotion and depth – the final 10 minutes of the film are almost as emotionally impactful as the incineration scene in Toy Story 3 – I teared up. It was a fond fairwell to a very enjoyable series, that may or may not continue because that ending was AMBIGUOUS -there were three baby Night Furies and there is no way they are not going to monetise that. Although that didn’t work out too well for Shrek.