Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2019. DreamWorks Animation, Mad Hatter Entertainment. Screenplay by Dean DeBlois, based on the How To Train Your Dragon book series by Cressida Cowell. Cinematography by Gil Zimmerman. Produced by Bonnie Arnold, Brad Lewis. Music by John Powell. Production Design by Pierre-Olivier Vincent. Film Editing by John K. Carr. Academy Awards 2019. Golden Globe Awards 2019. National Board of Review Awards 2019. North Carolina Film Critics Awards 2019. Online Film Critics Awards 2019. Producers Guild Awards 2019. Washington Film Critics Awards 2019.
Now the king of his domain, Hiccup (voiced so amiably by Jay Baruchel) has found out that leadership is not all fun and games: he must consider the suggestions of marriage to his lady love Astrid (America Ferrera) and, more important, must lead his people to safety when their lives are being threatened. A dragon hunter (voiced with his usual oily perfection by F. Murray Abraham) has set his sights on killing our hero’s dear companion Toothless, and Hiccup believes he can keep him and all the other dragons safe if he finds the mythical “hidden world” that his father always told him about, where the dragons originally come from. Whether it’s the place for the humans to be, or whether it’s the dragons who need to go off on their own and leave humans behind, is the crisis of maturity the protagonist must face if he’s going to live up to his father’s promise. First, though, there are battles to be fought, which means this film veers awkwardly between its charming scenes of character interaction and loud and frenetic action sequences. The only moment of grace in this otherwise forgettable charmer is a brief scene in which Hiccup and his companions find the place they are looking for, an Avatar throwback that is imaginative and easy on the eyes after so many fight scenes set in the dark and lit by torch flames. The concept is charming and simple, a tale of learning to face reality despite what our emotions tell us to want, but for adults, the execution is dull and not particularly memorable. Kids will be fully satisfied by it, though, and given that the film doesn’t seem to aim for much else, its lack of appeal to grown-ups is perfectly acceptable.