I was so excited to see this movie that I ended up watching How To Train Your Dragon 3 (HTTYD3) twice in the cinemas. I guess you could say I love this series, a lot. I have always loved the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless, and how they portrayed romance without overdoing it – especially in our finale. I also love how Hiccup and Toothless have always mimicked each other, and such was not missed in this film either. (Spoiler alert, just in case).
Albeit there were flaws.
Don’t get me wrong, HTTYD3 is an amazing and refreshing ending – cliche, sure, but a very well done, heart-tugging one. Cinematically there were some parts which did gnarl at me when they popped up both times I saw the film. For example, the transition from Valka (Hiccup’s mother) saying “Who’s hungry?” to the filled and bustling dining hall just seemed too fast, a second too fast. This could just be me being picky, but it made my skin itch each time it happened.
That’s not to say all the cinematics were horrific. The environments were amazing, details so intricate it tugged at my soul. Other cinematic transitions were fantastically done as well, particularly when it came to the flashbacks.
Narrative wise, it was fantastic. We, as an audience, get to revel in the fact that there are Easter Eggs to the earlier movies. Of course, there are the obvious ones such as how the film starts, how Astrid and Hiccup interact, and how our new chief makes a decision to lead to the main event, but we also see the film pay respect to old characters – such as our main ‘evil’ Alpha dragon from the second movie.
I love flashbacks, especially when they’re done absolutely right. HTTYD3 allowed us another taste of Gerard Butler as previous chief and father to Hiccup, Stoick the Vast. I cried both times we saw him, and I am not ashamed of it. Not only does it show that we learn from our past, but that there is and will always be change. The first is quite obvious as Hiccup literally uses Stoick’s notes to track his way to the Hidden World. The second, however, is done with cinematic details. When we first see Stoick in How To Train Your Dragon (1), his beard is spread wide across his chest with multiple braids at their ends; in HTTYD3, Stoick only has one thick braid when Hiccup is younger. This gives us insight into how Stoick became a great chief – it was tradition that braids were only worn for each battle won, and from this minor detail in the movie we see that Stoick was an amazing conqueror, one who was truly feared, even though we see him as a stern father more than anything else. In fact, even Gobber gives us a hand in seeing similarities between characters – particularly Hiccup and Stoick, especially since the two were father and son.
God, I love little details like this.
This trilogy has always played with the accuracies of the past, showing us how one was departed to Valhalla, and showing us the customs of how Vikings interact with the world around them – aggressive, and very protective of their own. Our social stereotypes don’t even exist in this world, similar to Disney’s Mulan, where gender and sex didn’t matter on a person’s being. For example, Hiccup and Astrid’s relationship is a clear indicator that they are not the stereotype for contemporary gender roles. Hiccup, although Chief, is not a confident speaker and does struggle in his role of leadership. Astrid, on the other hand, is a warrior, the stereotype of the Chief the village wants but doesn’t have, and it has been that way since the first movie. Even Ruff and Tuff, our diabolical twins, do not have the stereotype of brother and sister love which every other family movie seems to put as a love-hate/fighting relationship – most people, like me, with real brothers and sisters just don’t relate to those movies as much as they do Ruff and Tuff.
As much as I hated the cliche of our villain though, even he was a good choice. We finally see the implications of someone who is always one step ahead, too much of an expert in his field to escape. I know it makes for less of a fight when our heroes are constantly losing, and it almost feels like a waste of time, but it does the film so well. I like smart villains, especially when they’re one you cannot beat, because it’s a bigger achievement when they are defeated. Don’t get me wrong, he was very annoying. He seemed almost too good – and I loved it.
How To Train Your Dragon 3 was a brilliant close to the series. Emotional, funny, and perfect moral lessons for kids, brilliant nudges for parents and others to latch onto as well whether they have followed the series or not. I do highly recommend this family favorite.