'How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World' Review

Plot Summary:
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the final installment in the highly successful animated franchise about Hiccup and his dragon friend/steed/dog Toothless.  As an armada of dragon-hating thieves come to capture all of the dragons, Hiccup must lead his clan to new heights as they courageously seek to liberate their dragon friends and navigate the uncharted waters of romance!

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Why It Makes My List:
The creators of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World have done a great job of appealing to children with bright, colorful animation, an easy to follow story and plenty of goofy characters to keep them giggling throughout the film.  While there is a villain who poses a threat to our heroes' idyllic way of life, the film is primarily a story about love, family, and overcoming our self-doubts and weaknesses to become the people that we were meant to be. Fans of the series will likely be pleased at this capstone to a solid, family-friendly trilogy. 

Other Reasons to Watch:
  1. Character Development: Unlike most films that just try to replicate the exact same characters in different situations one movie after another (e.g. 'The Land Before Time 1-100'), this series has done a terrific job of developing and aging their characters along with their audience. What I mean by this is that while Hiccup was a young boy when the series began, we see him grow and change into an adult leader as he faces new challenges.  
  2. Some Action but Definitely PG: There is enough fun action in this film to entertain young boys and girls who like seeing dragons roar, flaming swords and melee style combat, but it is not graphic or gruesome in any way.
  3. Pleasant Soundtrack: The heroic, soaring theme that has carried through the trilogy is still present and pleasant. Other than that, though, the score neither detracts nor enhances the film dramatically.
Reason to Pass:
  1. Not a Lot of Surprises: It's a fairly straightforward story, which you may see as a positive or negative depending on what you're looking for. It provides an emotionally satisfying and uplifting message but is kind of paint by numbers.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is in a theater near you. 
As always, I recommend checking out the IMDB.com Parents Guide just so that you are aware of any potentially objectionable material before deciding whether to watch it.