A Trilogy Closes

Staff Writer: Logan Haines


With the introduction of Hiccup and his lovable best friends Toothless the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ franchise took the world by storm. With its release early in 2010 immediate fans were thrown headlong into the Isle of Berk. Jay Baruchel coming back for the surprisingly “unanticipated” third installment of the series as his titular Hiccup, began as a timid young boy, who fans watched grow through the first two films.


Toothless and his unnamed Night “Light” Fury romance interest. Photo Courtesy of IGN

For critics, viewers, and producers alike the first film was an unexpected success in the world of fantasy filmography. In an interview Dean DeBlois, director of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, admitted they “had no intention of starting a trilogy or franchise.” DeBlois and his partner Chris Sanders were brought to the project early on to help with polishing off more of the fantastical and draconian elements of the production. No on site had any intention or notion that a sequel, even a trilogy, would be born. A few weeks after the movie hit the masses, the studio approached DeBlois, Sanders, and their team about making a sequel. Deblois mentioned he was “allergic to sequels” and didn’t want a second movie to be “the same characters in another seemingly random adventure,” so he pitched the idea of a trilogy.


Toothless performing his hilarious mating dance for the Light Fury. Photo Courtesy of IMbD.

One that would “map Hiccups coming of age, three acts of a larger coming of age story,” commented DeBlois, “take this sort of nuisance runt of the Viking tribe and by the end of it transform him into this wise and selfless Viking chief.” Following the journey from 2010 to present day, the community can firmly say he’s achieved just that. From animation quality alone the progression of Cressida Cowell’s world, author of the novel in which this three-part fantasy epic is based, and growth of Hiccup is received with immense maturity. Hiccup has gone from the runt to this charming, handsome chief.

With no surprise to anyone the cast, Starring Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast, Craig Ferguson as Gobber, America Ferrera as Astrid, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs, Jonah Hill as Snotlout, and Kristen Wiig as Ruffnut, although Justin Rupple has taken over the role as Tuffnut, from original voice actor T.J. Miller. A few fresh faces are joining the team as well, Kit Harington, from the critically acclaimed HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’, is returning as Eret, and F. Murray Abraham has taken on the challenge of villain in this arc, Grimmel the Grisly.


Grimmel the Grisly and his pet dragon. Photo Courtesy of Dreamworks Studios.

Although ‘The Hidden World’ roared to the franchise’s best box office opening yet, earning $56 million its debut weekend, and its spot as biggest debut of any film all year, it was not without its challenges. Animation at the beginning was a challenge for the studios, as technology was not optimal for rendering massive hordes of dragons. “The animation has come such a long way that when we started ‘Dragons,’ they couldn’t put more than eight people or dragons on screen at the same time,” said America Ferrera. “As you know, there’s a scene in this movie where there are literally thousands of dragons on screen at the same time!”


The Dragon Riders and their noble steeds. In order, Hiccup, Snotlout, Astrid, Ruffnut, Fishlegs, and Tuffnut. Photo Courtesy of Dreamworks Studios.

The animation advancements have been a major help, but DeBlois also knows his place story wise and struggled to find the perfect fit for his closing act. He decided to bring in Guillermo del Toro as a consultant for the script. DeBlois had hit a writer’s block and was not in a place to release or even begin production on the film, so del Toro gave him the words any nerd wants to hear, “To me, it feels like a bunch of studio notes. Just go be a fanboy and write something fresh!” and DeBlois “did exactly that.”

Jacob Oller

Hiccup and Toothless enjoying a moment to themselves. Photo Courtesy of Jacob Oller.

The fanboy aspect of the films can be felt in every element on the silver screen. These films aren’t just for children, or fans of the book, this is a film that anyone of any age can sit down and fall in love with. “Our movies never condescend to our audience,” said Jay Baruchel. “This is not a movie that talks down to the kids that watch it. This is a movie that expects the kids to keep up and gives them that responsibility. I think the reward is that they connect to it, far deeper than they normally would.” A lot like J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ novels, with each movie that is releases, they grow and blossom new avenues of maturity and emotion. Yes, the film grabs the eyes and hearts, which is the case for Amber Torralba, Junior at Woodstock High School, who is “very excited to see it, Toothless is as cute as ever!” They are also lessons about taking responsibility, learning to work with something new, and experiencing the true meaning of a film’s spirit.


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