Vibrant animation dominates the moving final film in the trilogy. Whether it’s soaring through the clouds, traversing lush forests or encountering the fantastical neon Hidden World of the dragons it is breathtaking. But smaller details are also captured: hair ruffled by wind or leaves rustling in a breeze, the gleam in an eye, the track of a tear down someone’s cheek. While the plot follows a usual course: face the Big Bad, overcome some setbacks, and triumph through teamwork, the humor and energy of the film as well as its vivid look keep the viewer engaged. My showing was jam-packed yet there wasn’t a peep from the multitude of young children through the whole show.
While focusing on Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his friendship with Toothless, other characters are given a chance to shine, even if it is only briefly in some cases. We see the characters continued growth as they plot the course of the rest of their lives. The movie deals with themes of love, loss, friendship, letting go, growing up, and taking responsibility. Making the tough choices because they are right.
As the movie opens, we find that would be conquerors want to use dragons for invasion – those plans are being thwarted by the younger generation of Berkians, who have taken to freeing captured dragons and bringing them home. Berk has therefore become chaotic and filled to the brim with dragons. While it is now something of a dragon utopia, some worry that they are going to attract the attention of something too big for them to handle.
Ironically, Gobber (Craig Ferguson) feels that their problems would be solved if Hiccup were to marry Astrid. Hiccup is not too keen on the idea, mostly because Astrid doesn’t seem too keen. Their relationship seems to be in something of a holding pattern. However, Toughnut (Justin Rupple) is keen on the idea, mainly because he has his eye on best man duties, and he drags Hiccup aside for some guy talk on several occasions.
But as they feared, the would-be conquerors enlist the aid of Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) to help them with their Berk problem. Grimmel gained fame in his village after he killed a Night Fury and has made a vocation of it ever since. Now there is only one Night Fury left – Toothless – and Grimmel intends to hunt him down as well. He doesn’t like Hiccup changing his narrative of dragons as the enemy by preaching coexistence.
The initial confrontation between Hiccup and his allies and Grimmel and his enthralled dragons doesn’t go well and Hiccup feels that Berk is too exposed a target. Their only course is to travel with their dragons somewhere uncharted (the dragon hidden world) and leave their home because as Hiccup says (quoting Thor: Ragnarok) Berk isn’t the place, it’s the people.
Their quest to find the dragon hidden world is complicated by a lady dragon, a glittering white Light Fury who becomes a love interest for Toothless. As Toothless leaves to woo his mate, Hiccup wonders what he will do without his friend. Hiccup’s mother encourages Astrid (America Ferrera) to step in. Astrid has followed Hiccup’s lead and spoken up for him in council meetings, but now she needs to support him on a more personal level. Astrid reminds Hiccup that she believed in him first, before he ever met Toothless, and aids Hiccup in finding Toothless and the hidden world.
There are some twists and turns leading to a final confrontation with Grimmel, after which Hiccup and Toothless must move forward in their lives as leaders. The finale is bittersweet knowing that this is our farewell to these characters we love.