Movie Review: 'How to Train Your Dragon 3: Inner World'

The third movie in the "How to Train Your Dragon" series offers stunning detail and a heartwarming message about friendship.
How to Train Your Dragon

Courtesy of 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC


"How to Train Your Dragon 3: Hidden World" is based on the children's books by British author Cressida Cowell, about a fictional Viking who overcomes great obstacles on his journey to become a hero. This movie is an animated fantasy about Vikings and dragons that is stunning and rich in detail. The story is compelling, with lots of action, and the characters have come a long way since the original movie in 2010. If you haven't seen the previous two movies, just jump in and watch this as a standalone story. This is a entertaining and intriguing family film with a redemptive message about love and friendship. 

As a quick recap, the first "How to Train Your Dragon" film was about Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), the scrawny but smart teenage Viking who helps his community end a 300-year feud with fire-breathing dragons."How to Train Your Dragon 2" picks up five years later as Hiccup and his black dragon, Toothless, discover unexplored lands. Now 20 years old, Hiccup is being encouraged by his father to succeed him as the chief Viking, although Hiccup isn't sure he is ready. In the current film, Hiccup pursues a villainous dragon hunter who threatens to capture and enslave the town's dragons, especially Toothless, since he's a rare and exquisite black dragon. Hiccup seeks to liberate Toothless and return him to the wild. 

The Story

The story begins in the community of Berk, where Vikings and dragons live together peacefully. Life is good but there are too many dragons. They're big and bulky reptiles who take up a lot of space, and they're messy when they snort, hurl or drool. The streets, stores and mess hall where they eat are overcrowded and it's too cramped for comfort. Rising to meet the challenge is Hiccup, the 20-something Viking Chief. 

One night, a Viking hunter named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) sneaks into Hiccup's home. Grimmel wants to take Toothless, a rare black "Night Fury" dragon. Grimmel threatens Hiccup, vowing to destroy everything he loves in order to get his black dragon. He uses a beautiful white dragon, nicknamed Light Fury, in an attempt to lure Toothless away. 

While pondering what to do, Hiccup remembers his father talking about an island, where dragons could roam free and remain hidden from predators. Hiccup and his girlfriend, Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) set out to find this legendary "hidden world" that his father mentioned. If they find this hidden world, Toothless and the other dragons will be be safe and protected from captors. Finding the hidden world, however, is no easy task. Hiccup must mature and become the leader he needs to be by demonstrating sacrificial love. This means letting go of his pet dragon and setting him free as an act of love. 

What Parents Should Know

"How to Train Your Dragon 3" includes chase and battle scenes featuring dragons and Vikings. The violence, suspense and peril is intense at times. The dragons are huge, dinosaur-sized reptiles who are domesticated as pets. The dragons fly through the air, walk through the streets on a leash and are ridden like horses. There are scenes in which a snapping bear trap is used to ensnare dragons and the villain shoots dragons with narcotic darts. A man's rear end accidentally catches on fire. Some Vikings fall to their death in battle, although nothing gory. The dragons drool, burp, pass gas and act like wild animals, and some of Vikings also have atrocious table manners. 

If you dislike lizards and reptiles, this film will make your skin crawl. To the film's credit, Astrid is a spunky female character who wins Hiccup's heart and helps save the day. Astrid conveys girl power with her common sense, kindness and respect for others. Every little girl dreams of getting married, and there is a beautiful wedding and positive portrayal of marriage in this film. 

You might be wondering about the movie's villain and whether he will frighten your children. He's somewhat mean and sinister, but not too much energy is devoted to him. The villain wants to capture and enslave dragons to conquer the world, but he doesn't get away with it. There is a scene where the villain breaks into the main character's house trying to kidnap his beloved pet dragon, which could be disturbing to some children. 

Final Take

It's fun to watch this story of Vikings and dragons unfold on the big screen. This is a heart-pounding adventure with stunning visuals, strong characters and a compelling message of friendship and bravery. The ending of the movie is unexpected and uplifting with a strong takeaway about letting go of the things that we love, and how they return to us if it's meant to be.