By: Peggy Sue Wood | @peggyseditorial
I’m going to be honest and tell you all that I was disappointed with this final installment of the HTTYD Animated Universe.
Starting with just the basics, did anyone notice how Valka went from brunet to a red-head? Or how Stoick went from having red hair to brown in this movie? Because I did and that’s weird. Also, for some reason, the characters seem to look younger than they were in HTTYD2, despite a year having passed for them in-universe. I mean, granted their hair has grown, but their faces are rounder and more youthful looking than before. It’s odd. Hell, even Valka seemed to be missing wrinkles.
Character development took a nose dive for anyone who wasn’t Hiccup. Snotlout is as obnoxious as always, but now his character development has fallen back to what it was in the early seasons of HTTYD’s show (and first movie) where he thinks he’ll be chief if Valka likes him. I mean, hasn’t he already established himself as one who trusts Hiccup as a leader via the show? Isn’t he loyal enough–and, dare I say, intellectually developed enough given the time he’s spent growing in the animated series and HTTYD2–to have earned a seat on Hiccup’s council in this movie? And what about Ruffnut? Ruffnut has proven herself to be smarter than her brother and one who knows when to set aside the fun/insane/personal for the betterment of the group. At the start of HTTYD3, she seems to be holding this up (despite her new-found narcissism) until she lets the antagonist follow her back. At first, I thought she had some in-depth plan, NOPE–turns out she’s lost all her wit in the last “year” between movies 2 and 3. Which reminds me, Barf and Belch have shown to be almost impossible to ride without two riders at one time, nice to know that this is conveniently forgotten in order to leave Ruffnut behind.
The other characters in our main five didn’t really get any further development. Except maybe having Astrid get a bit more involved in talking to Hiccup thanks to Valka pushing her to–but that felt really awkward because it made Astrid go from an active character to a passive character.
And, what about Toothless? Why is everyone so sure that Toothless would abandon Hiccup for the female Nightfury? Toothless, I was sure, would come back to Hiccup and he does, I know Hiccup went to the Hidden World and made him come back early, but Toothless doesn’t immediately turn back once he’s arrived at New Berk with Hiccup. He stays, and that shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. Toothless and Hiccup are extremely close–closer than anyone else is to their dragons (which all of Berk knows)–so why are they assuming Toothless will forever abandon Hiccup now that a female Nightfury has arrived? It is, therefore, no surprise to me that Toothless comes back with Hiccup and stays there, leaving his new mate-for-life behind initially (until we find out she follows them).
Oh, and for clarification: Lightfuries are Nightfuries– they’re just females. The antagonist, a Nightfury (hunting) “expert,” tells us so. I was mad about that at first, but I started rethinking that as the movie continued. Given how white can easily blend into the clouds even without the camouflage, it makes sense to me that white would be a good color for their evolution. It’s the most reflective, so if they didn’t camouflage (which maybe they can’t in youth), white would make sense. White can also easily blend into a night sky as stars appear white, the moon is white, and clouds appear white under the moonlight, etc. Males of most species tend to have more colors, it’s to attract danger way from females. While black is excellent for hiding at night and in the shadows, a black dot is going to be way more visible in the day, so, again, it kind of makes sense that the males of the species are black. However, this careful thoughtfulness invested in design seems to die the minute we see the multi-colored offspring of Toothless and his mate at the end. Why? Well, unless the baby Nightfuries are genderless at birth or just getting their colors to define what sex they are, it doesn’t make sense for them to be two different colors (particularly if white=female and black=male). Also, the idea that camouflaging is something they learn as they age goes right out the window when we see the little ones going in and out of visibility as the family is flying at the end of the movie.
Side note, the antagonist is not a great Nightfury expert. He says that Nightfuries have a short flight span and can’t stand weather that’s too cold. Odd considering that Berk snows 9 months out of the year and hails the other 3, right? (They’re pretty far North is what I mean). Also odd since Toothless has the longest flight time of any dragon on the island. Someone’s facts aren’t exactly at Fishlegs’ quality, are they? Also, his tracking is sh*t considering he couldn’t find New Berk on his own and had to use Ruffnut.
Look. I am a massive fan of the HTTYD animated series (and the books). I really wanted to love this movie. Heck, I dressed up, braided my hair like a Viking, and carried three dragon plushies around my neck in a hand-made ribbon harness as I went to the earliest showing I could find for this movie (6 PM EST, FEB. 22). I hoped that this movie would give me closure after I’d been obsessing over it and telling people how well written everything from the first two movies to the specials and shows are–only to have the end of this beloved series feel like an empty promise. The design was weak. When there were promising starts to story elements, the writing seemed to half-a** the endings. The movie left a sour taste.
Of the movie, there are three scenes I have absolutely no fault with:
1. The council meeting BEFORE Tuffnut speaks.
2. The boat scene where Toothless and Hiccup reconnect, and Hiccup introduces Toothless to his children.
3. The final moment as the whole family flies into the sunlight.
I wanted to add the two moments we have with Astrid and Hiccup alone that slightly reflect the individual scenes from HTTYD1+2 respectively (cliff side, and cliff tops), but the new-found hesitation between Astrid and Hiccup’s coming marriage put a dent in that.
That’s it. Out of a 1 hour and 44 minutes runtime, I have three genuinely memorable scenes that felt grand, and everything else was so-so.
I still recommend seeing the movie because you get some closure. But, if you’re as big a fan as I am, I think you should prepare for some disappointment in this final installment.