Sad news, Vikings. The final film in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy lands in February, bringing the story of boy meets dragon to its conclusion.
Charming, smart and funny, the series has subtly explored themes of pacifism, parent-child relationships and the immigrant experience. It makes perfect sense that its creators, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, were the masterminds behind Disney treasure Lilo & Stitch. Toothless, our main dragon, looks like Stitch. Wide black eyes, puppy-like mannerisms and adorable goofiness make him a very good boy.
We’ll miss you, Toothless. So before you go, here’s a trip down memory lane: a two-movie recap of the beautiful time we’ve spent together.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): The movie that began it all
If this isn’t the perfect setup for a kids movie, I don’t know what is.
Berk, a mossy, rocky Viking village, is periodically attacked by dragons that plunder sheep and burn down homes.
This is where Hiccup comes in.
Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, is the nerd version of a Viking. He’s 15 and spends his days devising mostly useless inventions. He’s also too small and too weak to fight the dragons with the rest of the Vikings, who include his enormous dad and village chief Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler).
Hiccup just really wants to be accepted for who he is.
One day, Hiccup, employing his haphazard rope trap invention, catches a dragon — and not just any old fire breather. On this day, he ensnares and injures the rarest, most dangerous dragon of them all: a Night Fury.
But Hiccup can’t — won’t — take the dragon’s life. One look into those soulful dragon eyes is enough to enchant anyone.
So, harnessing his invention prowess, Hiccup affixes a prosthetic fin to Toothless’ crippled tail. Through a touching dragon-and-boy flight sequence, Toothless regains his ability to soar the skies once more. (Toothless, by the way, is called Toothless because he has fantastic retractable teeth.)
Hiccup and Toothless become best friends. Adventures ensue, and Hiccup teaches the other Vikings that the dragons don’t have to be enemies, including his tough future-girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera). Everyone gets a dragon pal, and it’s beautiful.
Enter the Red Death, basically the T-Rex of the dragons that eats the other dragons if they don’t bring offerings of livestock. Earlier dragon attacks on the village now make sense.
In a heart-stopping, fiery battle, Hiccup and Toothless single-handedly defeat the dragon. Hiccup more than proves his worth, and his father sees that.
But Hiccup, amid a blast of dragon fire, loses the lower part of his left leg.
Boy and dragon, both equipped with a prosthesis, return to Berk. The village is now a utopia for all things dragon, a harmonious community for creatures, scaly and otherwise.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014): What happens next
For the second entry to the series, DeBlois (now solo writer-director) set out to expand the Viking universe. That included building out the cast of characters and introducing new dragon terms like Alpha, a dragon that rule other dragons. His inspiration for the expansion came from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
“What I loved especially about Empire is that it expanded Star Wars in every direction: emotionally, its scope, characters, fun. It felt like an embellishment and that’s the goal,” DeBlois told IndieWire.
Unusual for a trilogy, we jump forward five years to a Berk that’s all about fun dragon races, custom dragon stables and a full-service dragon ranch.
Hiccup is 20 years old, taller and deeper-voiced with stubble now residing on his chin.
On the cusp of succeeding his father as chieftain, Hiccup must decide whether he’s ready to give up his youthful freedom for the responsibility of leadership.
A pressing distraction comes from Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), a human leader of an army of dragons intent on capturing scaly recruits, which Berk is brimming with.
If that wasn’t enough, Hiccup discovers his long-lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), still alive and very much fighting. Like Hiccup, Valka refused to kill dragons and has spent the last 20 years rescuing them from Drago’s clutches.
Hiccup enjoys a happy family reunion, but not for long. A big attack looms from Drago and his Alpha dragon, a Bewilderbeast that rules them all through the power of mind control. And I mean all dragons, Toothless included.
What happens next is heartbreaking and terrible. Toothless is ordered to kill Hiccup. Stoick, of course, isn’t having that. He jumps in the way and is killed by boy’s best friend.
It’s heavy stuff for a kids movie. Luckily, through the power of friendship, Hiccup eventually breaks Toothless free from Drago’s spell. Buddies once more, they lead a charge on Drago, driving their enemy and his Alpha into the sea.
In an again-peaceful Berk, now rebuilding its dragon utopia and home to Hiccup’s mum, the Vikings all hail their new leader, Chief Hiccup.
Sadly, as with all good things, The How to Train Your Dragon series must come to an end. We can no doubt expect the same rollercoaster of adventure, family and good versus evil from the third and final film. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World soars into cinemas Jan. 3 in Australia, Feb. 1 in the UK and Feb. 22 in the US.
Toothless, you’re the best friend a kid could ask for.
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