A year after Drago Bloodfist terrorized Berk and Hiccup found one family member and lost another and was named Chief, he and his posse (and possibly fiancee) are keeping Berk somewhat under control as a viking utopia. Something we’ve now learned from the TV series s how many more humans there are in this world that are affected by dragons. And some have still not made peace with them and never will. It soon becomes apparent after a rescue with a dragon as big as a house accidentally dominoes some houses into the water while playing with Fishlegs’ Gronkle baby that maybe things are just too crowded and something even worse is brewing behind their backs. Well, after said rescue, we learn before our dear Vikings do that Toothless, the last Night Fury of his kind, was seen being part of the rescue and the enemies lived to tell the tale to some guy named Grimmol (played by F. Murray Abraham, playing a guy who looks no older than 25 but is voiced by someone older than my grandparents) who thought all Night Furies were extinct. Eret, an enemy turned helper (Kit Harington) has knowledge of this person and warns Hiccup he is like no other enemy before. When it becomes more than apparent they are sitting ducks, they realize they all have to do something - something that might require them to put the needs of the dragons before theirs. And Toothless along the way ends up sensing something familiar yet unfamiliar, like a voice from a show he hadn’t seen for 15 years...
You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for Dragons 3. It was initially supposed to be released in the spring of 2016, which was before I even graduated high school, and I’m now almost done my third year of postsecondary. You know, now that I saw the film, I can really see how it would’ve been so easy not to spoil the fact there’s a new Light Fury, and how easy it would’ve been not to spoil all the hilarious flirtatious moments with Toothless. Dreamworks Animation has been in a pinch lately and I get the impression they did these things in the trailer to draw more attention. If I went in not knowing this would finally be the time we see another of Toothless’ species, I’d have probably given this an A or A+. I also didn’t watch the second trailer for fear even more would dilute the magic. And, just to get the bad things out of the way, Snotlout (Jonah Hill) has the hots for Hiccup’s mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett) and it’s supposed to be funny but gets in the way of everything else too much for it to come off that way. And Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (now played by Justin Rupple) really don’t have anything worthwhile to do. They were there on the good occasion in the last two and here they could’ve stuck with those mundane parts, considering how much was in the buildup for this movie. It almost felt like the creators themselves were sad we’d have to see them all go and wanted to give a funny sendoff. Didn’t work for me. This also does not do something the other two films were famous for, and that’s to include a sense of despairing loss. I’d even call this the cleanest of the trilogy, when it was meant to be a dirty one.
But thankfully the movie has lots to offer up in its place. I still remember this siege sequence in the second film where so many evil vikings on Drago’s side were storming the island, hundreds running together as we see them high up. How to Train your Dragon 3 includes a surplus of new scenes that keep the camera rolling as long as it can, sometimes even angling it to look like gravity rotated. And yes, weren’t included in the trailer. This time we get to see this new dragon acid that had just the perfect viscosity, colour and texture, like the realism of the sand on the beach, and I never disbelieved it couldn’t sizzle someone’s arm off. It ends up being a part of one of the most fast paced sequences in the movie, and one of the most morbid of the franchise yet, considering it involves attempting to burn someone at the stake.
Here’s something about me: I love animals, especially big dogs. They’re just so trusting and innocent and adorable, much like these dragons and their doggy eyes when they’re happy and their cat-fear stare when suspicious or angry. So it’s obvious from day one I’d find myself attached to this movie series, one that seems to understand what I see in animals. No, I’m shamefully not a vegetarian, but if it were up to me, animals wouldn’t be killed for meat until they were already dead from natural causes. I’ve heard that makes the meet less qualitative but I don’t care about that. I’m getting off topic a little. Let’s just say out of all the Dragon films, this one has the most cuddly eyes and the most “Aaaaawwww” moments, and that’s saying a lot considering the tender romance of the second film and the trust created between a boy and an injured dragon in the first one. Oh, and when Toothless dives to save Hiccup from burning in an explosion. There’s also a sequence when Toothless and his new girlfriend are snuggling up to each other. Cutest and saddest thing ever.
The ending ends up pulling back a little at the very end, but the significance it has on our lives today and the powerfulness of its hugs make up for it a little. It also makes us think of everything the characters have lost - and gained - up to this point. It’s not as tear-jerking as Inside Out or Coco - as few films can do, but it’s definitely honest in its feelings.
Even if this movie is the one that throws the least amount of punches, Dreamworks has done more than dock this series safely into the harbor where it can rest and be admired by future fans. They’ve made a movie that respects their moviegoers and understands a throwaway conclusion could’ve created a throwaway series.