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Movie review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’

Published March 06. 2019 12:23PM

Disney Pixar is the gold standard for feature animation films.

Disney Pixar feature animation films include “Toy Story,” “Up,” “Cars,” “Frozen,” “Finding Nemo,” “WALL-E,” and “Coco.”

Disney Pixar’s feature animation film supremacy is challenged with DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

“How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is stunningly beautiful, with a positive storyline that emphasizes values that shouldn’t offend any family that chooses to see it.

Credit writer-director Dean DeBlois, who brings to “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” an understanding of the essentials of, not only great animation, but great filmmaking.

DeBlois is co-director with Chris Sanders of the original “How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010), nominated for an animated feature Oscar, and writer-director of its sequel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (2014), also nominated for an animated feature Oscar. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is said to complete the trilogy.

The films are based on the British book series, “How to Train Your Dragon,” by Cressida Cowell.

In “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” Hiccup, a young Viking, learns his dragon cohort, Toothless, isn’t the only Night Fury. There’s also White Fury, with whom Night Fury falls in love. Hiccup travels to The Hidden World, said to be the only safe haven for dragons.

The facial appearances of Night Fury and White Fury are similar to that of the lead characters in “Lilo & Stitch” (2002), which DeBlois directed for Disney.

The voice talents in “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are again outstanding: Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), the Viking son; Gerard Butler (Stoick the Vast), Chief of the kingdom of Berk and Hiccup’s father; America Ferrera (Astrid), Hiccup’s girlfriend; F. Murray Abraham (Grimmel), the villain; Cate Blanchett (Valka); Jonah Hill (Snotlout); Craig Ferguson (Gobber the Belch); Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), and Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut).

The visuals are the star of “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” The color palette, amazing landscapes and seascapes, re-creation of mythical Norse villages and ships, battle scenes and often zany dragons, are fantastic. The animation detail (dragons’ skins, characters’ hair, vivid eyes) is extraordinary. Action sequences recall classic Hollywood swashbucklers, “Star Wars” flight scenes and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

The film is absolutely gorgeous. Although seen in 2D for this review, it would be spectacular in 3D.

Although animated, the film has the feel of a live-action feature, with tremendous camera movement, camera angles and points of view.

This is no doubt thanks to Roger Deakins. Oscar recipient, cinematography, “Blade Runner 2049” (2017), visual consultant for “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

Enjoy this feature animated film with your family.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” MPAA rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give “parental guidance.” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.) for adventure action and some mild rude humor; Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure; Run time: 1 hr., 44 min. Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” end credits include three-dimensional sepia-tone scenes and then line drawings of characters and scenes.

Box Office, March 1-3: “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” stayed at the top of the box office world, with $30 million, $97.6 million, two weeks, burying “A Madea Family Funeral,” opening at No. 2 with $27 million, one week.

3. “Alta: Battle Angel” dropped one place, $7.2 million, $72.4 million, three weeks. 4. “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” dropped one place, $6.6 million, $91.6 million, four weeks. 5. “Fighting With My Family” dropped one place, $4.7 million, $14.9 million, three weeks. 6. “Green Book,” with an Oscar bounce (best picture; best original screenplay, supporting actor, Mahershala Ali), moved up five places, $4.5 million, $75.7 million, 16 weeks. 7. “Isn’t It Romantic” dropped two places, $4.5 million, $40.1 million, three weeks. 8. “Greta,” $4.6 million, opening. 9. “What Men Want” dropped three places, $2.7 million, $49.7 million, four weeks. 10. “Happy Death Day 2U” dropped three places, $2.4 million, $25.2 million, three weeks.

Unreel, March 8:

“Captain Marvel,” PG-13: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck direct Brie Larson, Gemma Chan, Ben Mendelsohn and Samuel L. Jackson in the sci-fi action film. Carol Danvers becomes the female Captain Marvel in yet another galactic war.

“Gloria Bell,” R: Sebastián Lelio directs Julianne Moore, Sean Astin, Michael Cera and Alanna Ubach in the romantic drama. A woman in her 50s explores the Los Angeles dance-club scene.

“The Kid,” R: Vincent D’Onofrio directs himself and Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Dane DeHaan, an Emmaus High School graduate, in the western drama. A young boy witnesses Billy the Kid’s encounter with Sheriff Pat Garrett.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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