The strongest trait of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise has been its willingness to put Hiccup (v. Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, through the genuine paces of a hero’s journey. Growing up in a Viking village overpopulated by dragons is hard—now, imagine trying to lead it.
First, the teenager lost one of his legs; then, he found his long-lost mother (v. Cate Blanchett), only to lose his father (v. Gerard Butler). Now, in the third movie, he may have to make the biggest sacrifice of all. Evil dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly—voiced by F. Murray Abraham but drawn to resemble Ciaran Hinds—has hunted and killed all of the world’s other Night Furies. Now, he has his sights set on Toothless, who has fallen in love with a white Fury, dubbed a Light Fury. Either way, it seems like Hiccup is going to have to give up his best pal. Talk has also begun about Hiccup, the new village chieftain, marrying his girlfriend, Astrid (v. America Ferrera).
The character models on the dragons—all piranha teeth and bug eyes—have always strayed from their traditional regal look, a problem exacerbated by the sheer number of dragons flying to this hidden world. Also, the movie oversells the danger posed by Grimmel, who does not take an overwhelming effort to defeat. Love and time are the real enemies facing Hiccup and Toothless, and, family film or not, they have no better chance at beating them than Andy did in Toy Story 3.