Wonderful Send Off.
When I started this series with my kids recently to gear up for this release, I wasn’t sure if they would like it as much as I do, as I find this to be one of the far and away best franchises of the last few decades. I tried not to place unfairly high expectations on the final installment, but even if I was still guilty of such, the film delivered in a big way and had me hooked from the first frame to the last.
As we have come to expect, the animation is simply stunning, as the action moves from the cliffs to the forest to the sky. The landscapes are absolutely gorgeous, with stunning colors, epic size and scope, and wonderful attention to even the smallest details. The character designs, both human and dragon, are inspired and imaginative. The level of artistry overall is just extremely high, and it goes to show that this trilogy is a cut above.
The voice cast is just as good as always. Jay Baruchel is perfectly matched as Hiccup, with enough of a slight tremble in his voice to hint at self doubt but plenty of conviction to assure his people. America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Gerrard Butler, Cate Blanchett, TJ Miller Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kit Harrington all return to the star-studded cast to reprise their roles, and F Murray Abraham joins to voice the new villain with a plan to end the viking/dragon bond, Grimmel. The voice work is top notch all around, with everyone not only having a blast, but also drawing you into the story on a deeper level than just the action on the surface.
This film excels at the emotional investments that a great family film thrives on. The second installment saw Hiccup lose reunite with his mother Valka but lose his father Stoick, which now shoulders him with the responsibilities of village chief. He has already changed their way of life by introducing a partnership with their flying former enemies, and now he has to convince the village to abandon their home in hopes of surviving, furthering his crisis of confidence. The writing does a great job of investing you in this conflict, as Hiccup believes he has found a solution but knows it goes against several generations of his family’s actions. He has to choose between the family that raised him and the dragon that he raised and changed his whole life. During the climactic moments, you’re entirely sucked in, and the results are awesome.
This is a fantastic film about family, friends, sacrifice, and finding yourself as well as your place in the world. It works as both easy family entertainment as well as something with deep themes to digest. I laughed, I smiled, I gasped, and I even got a little misty-eyed. This was just an awesome experience, made even better by having my family with me!