HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD is directed and co-written by Dean DeBlois. He has helmed all three films in this trilogy and he has done an incredible job. I know that for a while, there has been a lot of hype saying that this is an incredibly well-made trilogy and I tell ya, it lives up to the hype. The story has been told in a way that it builds upon the first movie and improves as they go. Of course, the animation has improved from 2010 but just everything, in general, is better.
Jay Baruchel – Hiccup
America Ferrera – Astrid
Cate Blanchett – Valka
Craig Ferguson – Gobber the Belch
F. Murray Abraham – Grimmel the Grisly
Jonah Hill – Snotlout Jorgenson
Christopher Mintz-Plasse – Fishlegs Ingerman
Kristen Wiig – Ruffnut Thorston
Justin Rupple – Tuffnut Thorston
Kit Harington – Ret
Gerard Butler – Stoick the Vast
ULTRA HD 4K BLU-RAY: The UHD really shines on this release as it allows the deeper darker blacks to give a much more rich thicker look. The brights and murky colors alike also get their fair share of shine looking as vibrant as ever. Animated movies always tend to look marvelous in Blu-ray and the newer ones are benefiting widely from HDR.
The blu-ray video is a 1080p AVC presentation that has been beautifully rendered. The detailing is exquisite with the smallest intricacies not being overlooked. Markings on the dragons of the same species are different and make them all come off as unique. Individual hairs on people and Hiccup’s wannabe beard gives him a little more age since the last movie. The coloring is breathtaking with plenty of bright hues on Berk and on the scales of the dragons. In the hidden world, the brilliant colors range anywhere from neon to solid, bold hues. Flames from the dragons are nicely done but the Night and Light Furys have a glowing flame that comes out of them. The textures of the dragon’s scales look as realistic with a leathery appearance. The scales on the Light Fury have a beautiful shimmer when the light catches it properly. Mist and fog show no signs of banding or issues.
The audio is a Dolby Atmos mix that has some excellent moments where it uses the overhead channels. Some of the best examples are when there is flying happening and there is wind whipping by as the dragons flap their wings. It is more subtle than a lot of the other Atmos mixes out there. Growling dragons and bursts of fire from them that creates some nice LFEs. The narrative dialogue isn’t a whole lot different from the speech as far as prioritization. Honestly, I was curious if Hiccup was having a conversation with someone or narrating about Berk at the start of the film.
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
-Audio Commentary: with Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis, and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto
-Alternate Opening: With optional commentary by Writer/Director Dean Deblois.
-Deleted Scenes: With optional commentary by Writer/Director Dean Deblois.
-How to Voice Your Viking: This looks at the voice work in making the movie.
-Creating an Epic Dragon Tale: This looks at the ever-expanding world with each new film.
-How I Learned from Dragons: This has some of the star voice actors and their experience with the franchise.
-Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome
-The Dragon Sheep Chronicles:
In Friend vs. Food
In The Secret Sheep Society
-A Deck of Dragons: These are the new dragons from the film.
-Growing Up with Dragons: This describes how Hiccup has to grow with the new things that the dragons need.
-The Evolving Character Design of Dragons: This shows the growth of the characters from the first film into the third.
-Drawing Dragons: This looks at the number of dragons and their designs throughout the series.
-Epic Villain: This looks at the new villain Grimmel the Grisly.
-Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds: This is a recap of the series.
-Welcome to New Berk: This looks at the location of New Berk as narrated by Hiccup.
2-Disc Set w/ 1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
THE BOTTOM LINE:
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD does an outstanding job both technically and keeps you entertained. The story expands in a way that feels planned from the first film and does a trilogy properly. The animation is solid and it shows how far the technology has come. The Blu-ray transfer is stunning and the audio mix is done well. There are a ton of extras for the entire family. I highly recommend picking this up and the 4k release is also worth checking out.