How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World concluded the epic trilogy, leaving me with mixed feelings


How to Train Your Dragon.

It sounds like a medieval self-help book that I would hope to never have a use for. In reality, it’s the story of a Viking boy named Hiccup who changes his village’s perspective on dragons after he befriends one.

The movie caught the attention of six-year-old me back in 2010 when it first came out. From the moment I watched the first movie, the franchise became a subtle, but consistent, part of my childhood. I was ten years old when the second movie came out, and in my humble opinion, it was much better than its predecessor. I knew already that I couldn’t wait to see the third and final installment of the series.

When the trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 3 came out this past summer, it was seemingly everything I had hoped for. It was brimming with mystery and whimsical scenery, as well as the development of the characters I had grown to love.

So, as I entered the theater to watch the movie, I couldn’t imagine any outcome aside from a satisfactory and heartwarming conclusion to the series. I left the theater, however, with tear-stained cheeks and a whole bunch of mixed emotions.

How to Train Your Dragon 3 picked up about a year after the second movie left off. The writers decided to forego the iconic opening scene of the previous movies and simply jumped into a mission scene. While it was an intriguing way to introduce the returning characters, the absence of the usual opening left me feeling a little unsettled. As the audience became reacquainted with their favorite characters, the plot began to unravel.

As newly appointed chief of Berk, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) has managed to create a dragon utopia. Yet, when Berk faces a new threat unlike anything they’ve faced before, the village of Vikings must find a new solution. They embark on a mission to discover a legendary hidden world that is supposedly the home of all dragons. The quest leads to the discovery of a new dragon and the exploration of friendships and other relationships.

While the movie had a few pacing issues, it was overall fairly action-packed, and if nothing else, funny. It was a bit different from its predecessors, but that wasn’t its downfall. The entire plot invoked curiosity, and I was eager to see what happened next. At every turn, there was a successful attempt at humor that managed to carry the movie through any lulls.

I was furthermore intrigued by the development of each of the main characters, specifically Hiccup, whose character faced a number of emotional trials, allowing the audience to see sides of him that they hadn’t seen before. The movie managed to tie parts of his personality back to traits I’d seen exemplified in the first movie. He was growing into himself and learning how to become a wise leader.

I was also impressed by the exploration of Hiccup’s relationship with Astrid. We got to see the couple facing real-life problems and learning how to work together, always willing to depend on one another. Their relationship came full circle and was one of the elements of the movie I was actually satisfied with.

But perhaps the movie was symbolic of the inevitable change everyone will face in life.”

However, I was not a fan of the way the movie ended. While it all came together nicely, like a million strings being wrapped into an elegant bow, I felt that the ending took away from part of the movie’s message. Having a few more days to process helped me appreciate some of the decisions the writers chose to make, but I was still a bit disappointed.

There was too much change to a childhood classic that I hold dear to my heart. However, I understand that the writers were attempting to do exactly that. The movie showed themes of change and adapting and was most likely meant to teach a lesson to viewers such as myself.

I can’t say I will ever be satisfied with the series’ conclusion; I wish different choices had been made. But perhaps the movie was symbolic of the inevitable change everyone will face in life.

So, while How to Train Your Dragon 3 might not actually teach you how to train your own real-life dragon, the other lessons it taught are equally, if not more, important.