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If for some reason you haven’t seen HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON or its sequel, please stop what you’re doing and fix that now. As animated features, they’re some of the very best done in the past decade. Director Dean DeBlois is about to deliver the highly-anticipated third installment to theaters this weekend, completing the Dreamworks Animation trilogy is a rather beautiful and fun way. This time around, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless are searching for a hidden world after freeing some mysterious dragons, including a White Fury, which is the female counterpart to Toothless… and of course a potential love interest. Their quest becomes essential after the evil dragon hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) threatens to destroy their home of Berk.

Much of the film focuses on Hiccup going head to head with Grimmel the Grisly’s soldiers, and trying to protect his people, but the subplot of a love story between Toothless and The White Fury is what drives this installment, complete with a scene involving Hiccup amusingly trying to Cyrano De Bergerac his winged pal in a courting session. Grimmel is trying to wipe out all Night Fury dragons, like our dear Toothless, and our heroes don’t realize The White Fury is actually his bait. There’s also a plot thread involving the idea that Hiccup and Astrid (America Ferrera) should potentially get married to become the true leaders of their people. Almost all of the voice cast from the previous installments have come back, including Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, joined again by GAME OF THRONES own Kit Harington who played Eret in the second film. Butler’s character perished in the first sequel, but with clever use of flashbacks to a young Hiccup, he gets to live on in this third outing in a way that feels just right.

For some, it may be surprising to see that HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD is very much the definitive ending of a trilogy, wrapping up all the plot threads from the first two movies, and giving the story closure in a heartfelt and meaningful way. Much of the film is filled with fun and adventure, action scenes and exciting humor, but when things begin to reach the final act you start to realize this is a true curtain call to the series. Considering how this third film wraps up, it’s very unlikely we’ll see another big screen adventure, and in many ways that’s fine. The way DeBlois (who also wrote the film) orchestrates the final scenes is so perfect and charming that you’ll feel like you got exactly what you needed, and you’ll feel satisfied enough to say goodbye with a smile on your face. It may take some tears to get there, as some of those last moment are pretty emotional. There’s a heart-wrenching callback to a key moment in the first movie that emotionally destroyed me, such a powerful mirror moment to one of my favorite scenes in the first outing. And I heard plenty of sniffling around me in the theater, so I know I’m not alone.

One of the things I love about these films is how they subtly show the characters maturing and growing, almost as if they’re matching our own passage of time between installments. This is a franchise that started in 2010, and has maintained a strong level of quality in all three movies. John Powell also returns as composer for the film’s score, and proves yet again how important his involvement is with powerful and poignant musical cues. His scores are one of my favorite aspects of these productions. As much as I’ve loved these movies, you would think I’m not ready to close the book on these characters just yet… but that’s why this third outing is, in my mind, perfect in every way. It gives us a proper send off, and it accomplishes it in a way that doesn’t leave us wanting or needing more. It’s the ultimate third chapter in a trilogy of excellent films. Well done, one and all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buy a Toothless doll and hug it tight while I cry like a baby.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD hits theaters February 22, 2019

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.