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4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Review: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD

May 21 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the third and final installment of DreamWorks’ animated film trilogy. In the first film, we met meek young viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who was nothing like his father, the gruff Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler). He had always been taught that dragons were to be feared, hunted and killed. That is until he met the Night Fury dragon he named Toothless. Hiccup trained and learned how to fly Toothless, proving that all he had been taught about dragons was incorrect. The village of Berk had always been at odds with the dragons, but Hiccup and his friends managed to change the hearts and minds of everyone, even Stoick. In the second film, Hiccup was reunited with his long-lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), who had been believed to have been killed by a dragon when Hiccup was just a baby. She had actually been living for nearly two decades in an ice cave with a community of dragons, helping to protect the creatures. However, the reunion was bittersweet as Stoick was killed while protecting his family and the dragons from a band of hunters.

In the third film, Hiccup is the new Chief of Berk. He has been leading the dragon riders on missions to find and rescue dragons from trappers and hunters, bringing them back to the safety of Berk. However, the village is starting to get overcrowded, which not only poses a food problem, but also makes it more difficult to keep the dragons hidden from potential enemies. Hiccup recalls a story his father once told him as a child, of a hidden world populated only by dragons, where they lived in isolation, protected from any humans who meant to harm them. Hiccup decides that the Berkians will set out on a quest to find this hidden world, and a new home for the dragons.

As the third film opens, the dragon riders raid a trapper barge, freeing all the dragons. Well, all except for a Light Fury, who had been camouflaged in the darkness. The warlords want their dragons back, and hire infamous dragon hunter Grimmel the Grizzly (F. Murray Abraham) to find the Berkians. Grimmel thought he had single-handedly wiped out the Night Fury population, so when he hears that the dragon riders have one, he jumps at the chance to hunt down this last one. Grimmel has been using dragon venom to control his own army of deadly dragons. Plus he has a secret weapon on his hands, the female Light Fury, which he plans to use to lure Toothless into his trap.

The Hidden World is part love story, and part a lesson in growing up and learning to let go. For a long time, Toothless and Hiccup have been inseparable. But when Toothless falls for the Light Fury, Hiccup must accept that it’s not going to be just Toothless and him forever. In fact, the people of Berk have become too reliant on the dragons for their way of life. Meanwhile, Hiccup and Astrid are nervous and apprehensive of taking the next big step in their relationship…marriage. While there is this action-packed story of saving the dragons from the evil Grimmel, at it’s core, the film is really a story of growing up and letting go, but with the same elements of action, adventure and humor that have always made this franchise so great.

How To Train Your Dragon has been one of my favorite animated franchises—not only the films, but also the excellent TV series that fills in the gaps between the movies. Over the past decade, we have seen these characters really grow, both emotionally and physically. This third film does an excellent job of wrapping up the franchise and giving the characters one last big adventure. It provides a satisfying closure to this chapter in the legend of Berk, and leaves the viewer on a positive, hopeful note.

Universal’s 4K Ultra HD release looks and sounds stunning. The picture is nearly flawless, showing great detail in textures such as clothing and dragon skin. The picture remains clean and clear throughout, with a beautiful color palette, whether the dragon riders are making a foggy night time raid on a ship, or just flying around in the bright sunny skies. Many non-animated films do these impressive long one-shots, but I’ve never seen it done in an animated film until now. During the film’s opening sequence there is this well-choreographed long single shot that weaves in and out of the action as the dragon riders are rescuing the dragons, and it looks phenomenal on this 4K release. ​One disappointment is that Universal will not be releasing the 3D Blu-ray version of the film in the U.S., but fortunately this can easily be imported from abroad for those viewers who wish to own the complete trilogy in 3D.

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack sounds quite good, but I found it to be a little center heavy at times, making less use of the overhead channel than I would have expected. That said, it does a very good job of providing a general immersive ambiance for the film, and dialogue remains clear throughout.

The 4K Ultra HD release comes packed in standard UHD keepcase with a slipcover, and contains an insert with a code to redeem for a 4K Movies Anywhere digital copy of the film as well as a code for a bonus free digital movie. Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs contain the same assortment of bonus material, which includes two digital shorts (not related to the franchise), an alternate opening 5 deleted scenes, a feature commentary, and about 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and crew and other fun animated featurettes.



What’s Included:

Film: (1:44:06)

    4K Ultra HD:

    • 2160p / Widescreen 2.35:1
    • HDR10
    • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

    Blu-ray:

    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.35:1
    • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Video Service, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

    Digital (for redemption deadline, see NBCUcodes.com):

    • 4K Digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere
    • Bonus Digital Movie (Redemption Deadline 11/15/2019)
      Additional bonus digital movie redeemable at www.upherewards.com. At the time of this review, the list of available titles includes Charade, Jarhead 2: Field of Fire (Extended Version), Mallrats, Slapshot, Vertigo and Pillow Talk, but these change every 4 months or so.

Extras:

All of the bonus material can be found on both the 4K Ultra HD and the Blu-ray discs.

  • DreamWorks Shorts
    • Bilby (8:01)
      The lonely Bilby comes across a baby bird as he is gathering berries in the Outback, and soon finds himself constantly working to protect the cute little bird from the many animal threats that also reside in the desert.
    • Bird Karma (4:48)
      This 2D-animated musical short finds a long-legged bird desperately trying to catch a fish for a snack, with some unfortunate consequences.
  • Alternate Opening (4:14)
    In this original opening, Hiccup and Toothless are on an island, looking for a new dragon to rescue. Presented in rough storyboard/animatic form, with an optional intro by writer/director Dean DeBlois. It was a wise choice to switch to the film’s more exciting big opening rescue sequence.
  • Deleted Scenes (12:48)
    Collection of 5 deleted scenes with optional intros by writer/director Dean DeBlois. Play All, or select from:

    • “Automatic Tail” (2:45)
      Longer version of the scene where Hiccup is making Toothless’ new tail. Presented in pre-viz state.
    • “Protector vs Captor” (3:34)
      Valka explains to Hiccup that the best and safest thing for the dragons may be to let them go live on their own. Presented in rough storyboarded animation.
    • “Spy Mission” (2:13)
      Valka and Astrid talk about marriage. Presented in rough storyboarded animation.
    • “Mind Before the Sword” (1:43)
      Flashback with Young Hiccup and Stoick. Presented in rough storyboarded animation.
    • “Your Responsibility” (2:31)
      Another flashback with Young Hiccup and Stoick. Presented in rough storyboarded animation.
  • How to Voice Your Viking (1:33)
    Footage of cast members in the recording booth.
  • Creating an Epic Dragon Tale (4:25)
    The filmmakers talk about what they’ve learned with each new installment of the film trilogy. Includes interviews with director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois, producers Bonnie Arnold & Bradford Lewis, production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent “POV”, and head of character animation Simon Otto.
  • How I Learned from Dragons (3:42)
    The cast talks about what makes this trilogy of films so special. Includes interviews with stars Jay Baruchel (“Hiccup”), America Ferrera (“Astrid”), Kit Harington (“Eret”), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Fishlegs”) & Gerard Butler (“Stoick”), and director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois.
  • Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome (7:52)
    Coyote Peterson, host of the Brave Wilderness YouTube Channel, provides an introduction to each of these featurettes that take a look at how nature inspired the look of the dragons and how they move. Includes interviews with director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois, head of character animation Simon Otto, and production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent “POV”. Play All, or select from:

    • Birds and Bats are Awesome (3:34)
      The filmmakers talk about the flight school that the new animators must go through, to learn how birds and bats move, so that this can be applied to the flying dragons.
    • Animal + Animal = Dragon (4:16)
      The filmmakers talk about the animals and creatures that served as inspiration for each of the dragons.
  • The Dragon Sheep Chronicles (2:35)
    Two animated shorts about the sheep in the village of Berk. Play All, or select from:

    • Friend vs Food (1:21)
      Hiccup tries to figure out how to keep the dragons from eating all the sheep.
    • The Secret Sheep Society (1:18)
      The sheep discuss their plan for escaping Berk without being eaten by the dragons.
  • A Deck of Dragons (3:29)
    Fishlegs talks about the four new dragons he has added to his deck of dragon trading cards.
  • Growing Up with Dragons (3:34)
    The cast and filmmakers reflect on the story and how the characters have grown over the past ten years. Includes interviews with director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois, producers Bonnie Arnold & Bradford Lewis, and stars Jay Baruchel & America Ferrera.
  • The Evolving Character Design of Dragons (3:18)
    The cast and filmmakers talk about how the characters have evolved over the course of the three films. Includes interviews with production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent “POV”, head of character animation Simon Otto, director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois, producer Bradford Lewis, and stars Jay Baruchel & America Ferrera.
  • Drawing Dragons (3:09)
    The filmmakers talk about designing the DreamWorks dragons. Includes production artwork, and interviews with production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent “POV”, director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois, and head of character animation Simon Otto.
  • Epic Villain (1:44)
    The filmmakers talk about designing the villain of Grimmel, and the man behind the voice. Includes footage of star F. Murray Abraham in the recording booth, and interviews with director/writer/executive producer Dean DeBlois and producer Bradford Lewis.
  • Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds (1:09)
    Astrid gives a quick rundown of the events of the entire dragon trilogy in just 60 seconds.
  • Welcome to New Berk (2:13)
    Hiccup narrates this look at the new Viking village of New Berk.
  • Feature Commentary (1:44:06)
    Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto provide an interesting and informative commentary throughout the film. The guys provide some nice insight into the animation, character and story choices, point out some Easter eggs, and talk about the animation process.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Highly Recommended

The Hidden World is a fun and exciting conclusion to the How To Train Your Dragon saga. We have watched these characters change and grow over the past ten years, and this is the perfect culmination of that journey. It blends action and adventure with a heartfelt story of growing up, letting go, and moving on to the next chapter in your life. Universal’s 4K release looks stunning and sounds great, and the release includes a solid selection of bonus material. This is a must own for fans of the franchise, and highly recommended in general.