Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together-to the very ends of the Earth-to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.
Plot: When Hiccup discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel finds it first.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Aspect Ratio: 2.35.1
Runtime: 104 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: The rare trilogy capper that really works, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings its saga to a visually dazzling and emotionally affecting conclusion.
“One of the best animated trilogies ever made.”
This movie was digitally made as a 2K Digital Intermediate, so that means you’ll get upscaled 4K image for this release. As per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10. When it comes to grain, there is practically none, but that’s to be expected for digitally made films.
While there are enhancements across the board on the 4K UHD, the Blu-ray is a top notch disc. You will see more detail on the dragons scales, textures on their skin — the works. Even more, you will notice subtle reflections inside their scales and eyes. This solid level of detail continues on the human characters as well — all of the various pieces of armor are visibly scratched, dented, missing paint, worn and torn, etc. Beyond the armor, the characteristics of the people of Berk standout too — beard stubble, aging skin, various hair types, wardrobe — a lot of work went into the little things and it shows.
While those details are great, the place where you will see the most dramatic improvements are in the HDR and black levels. Highlights look great across the board — every single dragon has a wide range of colors and distinct features and while 99% of dragons are full of color, certain species actually lack it. That doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from HDR because too because you will see slight red accents come to form on the Death Grippers and the hues of green in Toothless’ eyes come to life.
Beyond the dragons and various characters of Berk, you will see great HDR and solid black levels echoed in the various fire-lit conversations, flames against the night sky and green acid converting into lava. There are multiple scenes with gorgeous sunsets filling the sky with pink and blue hues — it’s a lot of color, almost all the time. The environment around them also comes to life, whether it’s the village of Berk or the subtle glimpses of lush grass fields, trees, rocks and the open ocean. Even though it’s not ‘front and center’ it still holds on its own and plays a big role in the top notch animation sequences.
Some examples of great black levels and contrast can be seen in Chapter 11 & 12. First, you will get the flying scene with Toothless and the Light Fury (11) surrounded by the northern lights and the darkness of night. It’s the definition of contrast because their skin tones (black & white) show the comparison. This continues (12) when they sneak up on Grimmel the Grisly in his hideout. The entire scene is only lit by moonlight and fire until chaos ensues. When that happens, the only color comes from the battle — which means green acid turning into fire lightning the interiors of the castle. Black levels are superior.
As a side note, you will see more highlights in Chapter 14 which serves as the introduction to the Hidden World. These scenes are full of glowing color with black levels flowing right off the screen.
Like the quote says, “this is one of the best animated trilogies ever made,” that means it can stand toe to toe with any of Pixar’s legendary releases — it’s that good. It’s been a total 9 years and the HTTYD series has succeeded in telling a great story throughout all three movies — while still finding the route to end in a perfect way. It’s a gem of a franchise that will stand the test of time. Generations of children and adults will enjoy these films into the distant future. Not only does How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World come highly recommended — the entire franchise is a must own. All the films look amazing on 4K UHD, so go grab a copy immediately.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the teams that worked on this do next!
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