FlixChatter Review – How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

How To Train Your Dragon has officially become one of my favorite movie trilogies ever… and perhaps even rival Toy Story as my fave animated trilogies. When the first movie first came out, it kind of took me by surprise just how much I adore it. In fact, it’s one of those rare times that I give a full 5 out of 5 score to a film. I loved the second movie too, but it wasn’t as good as the first but still earned a stellar 4.5 out of 5. So naturally, I was excited to see the final conclusion of Hiccup and Toothless journey in their land called Berk.

This time, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now a young man and since the death of his father Stoick (Gerard Butler in perhaps his best role ever), he’s now the chief of his land. Since the event of the last movie, Berk has become a dragon utopia where dragons of all sizes live in harmony with the Vikings community. The movie opens with an action sequence where Hiccup & his team of goons (except for the extremely capable Astrid) are in a rescue mission to release captured dragons from warlords. As they bring some of those creatures home, it’s clear that Berk has became way too chaotic for the two species to co-exist as the dragons’ and humans’ population continue to grow.

I like that Stoick hasn’t disappeared in the movie as he shows up in Hiccup’s flashbacks/memory flash. The late Berk chief has always been obsessed with the Hidden World, what Berk described as a safe haven for dragons, and now it’s become Hiccup’s mission to find that place. Meanwhile, Hiccup’s friendship with Toothless face the biggest test of all as the Night Fury became enamored by a beautiful stranger, a white-skinned dragon they end up calling The Light Fury.

As you might’ve seen in the trailers and various promos, the ‘dragons in love’ have been featured heavily. I’ve always been fond of Toothless, it’s simply an adorable creature with its cat-like eyes and movement. Light Fury is just as mesmerizing, I’d even call alluring in the way it bewitched Toothless. The moment Hiccup actually ‘coached’ his besotted friend and Toothless making an absolute fool of itself trying to impress its new lady friend is pretty hilarious.

One of the movie’s genuine emotional moments is when Hiccup realize he just might lose Toothless forever… and yet the good guy that he is, he learns to accept it. He even goes so far as rebuilding Toothless’ automatic tail so it could fly higher to be with Light Fury. But an enemy is never far behind… we’re introduced to a new villain, the dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly who apparently has killed every living Night Furies except for Toothless. Voiced by F. Murray Abraham (in a kind of Transylvanian accent??), I kept thinking the way the character’s drawn reminds me of Terrence Stamp.

Unlike the first movie where the pacing is smooth and there’s a nice flow in how everything unfolds, this one feels a bit haphazard and chaotic at times. There are a lot going on—we’ve got the entire Berk community moving to a new place, Toothless & Light Fury romantic interlude, Grimmel’s fiery attacks, Vikings vs Warlords battle, etc. that it was dragging at times. Furthermore, Grimmel isn’t that memorable a villain and some of the humors from Hiccup’s eccentric group of friends also feel a bit repetitive.

Thankfully there are still a lot to love, and in the end, the relationship between Hiccup & Toothless is the one that tugs your heartstrings. In fact, the last 20 minutes is where the movie soars the highest and I’m glad I packed tissues!

Character-wise, I think Hiccup is perhaps one of the most well-written animated characters (heck even movie characters in general). It’s a well-rounded coming-of-age story and Hiccup is a character whose whose journey is worth following. His relationship with his dad Stoick is revisited in a heartwarming way that make up for the lack of mother/son relationship with his mother (Cate Blanchett). I also appreciate writer/director Dean DeBlois in that he writes a formidable female character Astrid (America Ferrera) beyond just a love interest, but a wise and empathetic counsel to the often-overwhelmed Hiccup. One of the blond twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) is quite the comic relief, especially in her scenes with Grimmel.

Visually, the film once again looks positively glorious! I actually regret not seeing the original on the big screen, but I did see the second one in the cinema and it’s a must just for the flying sequences alone. The Hidden World itself is quite a spectacle, and seeing Toothless become more than the cute & loyal dragon pet but a leader for his species is pretty epic. It’s an intriguing parallel to Hiccup’s journey from boy to man. John Powell’s majestic score is one of my favorite movie music of all time (as I’ve highlighted here) I still absolutely love it here, it’s rousing and uplifting in the action scenes and perfectly touching in the quiet, dramatic moments.

I highly recommend this one, but I think it’d be more enjoyable if you’ve seen at least the first movie. Some people may think animation is mostly for kids, but this trilogy offers plenty for adults. The way it deals with mature themes, such as learning to let go, is emotionally resonant without giving up its playful nature. What a bittersweet goodbye to such wonderful characters we first saw nearly a decade ago. It’s definitely one of the most fun and most satisfying animated fantasy adventure with a stirring message of friendship, family and loyalty.


So what do you think of How To Train Your Dragon 3? Do you like this more or less than the original?

FlixChatter Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

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I caught on to How To Train Your Dragon (2010) a bit late in that I waited until the Blu-ray to see it. Once I saw the exhilarating flying sequence, I wish I hadn’t missed the theatrical release. So I’m definitely glad I finally got to see the sequel on the big screen and what a treat it was!

This movie takes place five years after the first one so we see the protagonist Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) now all grown up. The island of Berk where he lives looks quite different from the first time we saw it, thanks to Hiccup and his dragon BFF Toothless, dragons and the Vikings community are now in perfect harmony. In fact there’s now a Dragon Race that looks like Harry Potter’s Quidditch with dragons as their broomsticks. At its heart, the story still belongs to Hiccup and his friendship with Toothless. They’re as playful as ever and Hiccup’s engineering genius would rival that of Bruce Wayne. He could even fly on his own with self-made dragon wings!

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I really could watch these two play for hours! Toothless is especially adorable, it’s akin to watching those cat videos, you just can’t get enough! The filmmakers really did an amazing job with the design of the dragon creatures, but most especially Toothless with his big goggly eyes and cat-like mannerism. Even with a slew of new dragon species being introduced here, Toothless is still the cutest one of them all.

But a cute dragon and fun flying sequence alone does not make a film. Fortunately writer/director Dean DeBlois (who also co-wrote/directed the first one) crafted yet another fun adventure that’s as rousing as it is full of heart. A mysterious old enemy of Hiccup’s dad Stoick (Gerard Butler) threatens to steal all the dragons for his dragon-army. But whilst Stoick is hellbent on war (he is voiced by Leonidas after all), Hiccup reasons that perhaps diplomacy is still an option. On his way to find Drago (Djimon Honsou), Hiccup encounter a dragon trapper Eret (Kit Harrington) and Cate Blanchett’s character Valka who lives amongst a whole bunch of dragons. I feel that the less said about her character the better as it’s pretty integral to the plot.

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What I love about this one is that even though there’s quite a lot going on and there are more action scenes than the first one, the focus is still on the Hiccup/Toothless relationship. There is a strong familial storyline here that makes it even more perfect for parents to see with their kids, but also the friendship theme that builds on loyalty and love. The battle of survival for Berk citizens puts Hiccup/Toothless’ friendship to the test, and there are some emotional scenes that really tug on my heart strings. It touches on a slightly darker theme here that is fitting with Hiccup growing up into adulthood.

The voice cast are truly wonderful. Baruchel is downright perfect as Hiccup and this could be one of Butler‘s best work in recent memory. Nice to see Cate Blanchett here and she embodies her character Valka very well. Stoick has a bit more screen time here that shows a different side of him. Kristen Wiig‘s Ruffnut had me laughing the way she is crushing on Eret. The way the camera keep zooming in on his muscled biceps is a hoot! There are genuinely funny moments sprinkled throughout, so it’s not just Craig Ferguson‘s Gobber as the only comic relief.

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I have to mention how beautiful this movie is. The meticulous detail on the scenery and each and every single dragon is astounding. Animation technology has come along way even four years ago when the first movie came out but now the effects is even smoother. The flying sequence looks positively dazzling, it’s really meant to be seen on a large screen and I have to admit the 3D looks pretty darn good as well. Of course the music is a big part of the whole experience and John Powell did it again with his amazing score!

That said, I wouldn’t say this movie is perfect. I actually gave the first movie a full 5/5 rating, as I really couldn’t change a thing about it. But the sequel isn’t exactly flawless as I think the villain isn’t terribly interesting nor all that menacing. He also happens to be the only dark-skinned Viking and he happens to be the bad guy? Hmmm. It’s a small quibble however as overall it’s a pretty solid feature that builds on a lot of the great quality of the original. If Dreamworks could keep the quality of the third movie as good as the first two, it could rival Toy Story as the best animated feature trilogy ever.

4.5 out of 5 reels


So what do you think of How To Train Your Dragon 2? Do you like this more or less than the original?

Double New Releases Reviews: Pain & Gain and This Is The End

One blogger can’t possibly watch every single film, so thanks to two of FC contributors today, I bring you double reviews of two movies currently in theaters. This is The End is actually just been released today.

Pain and Gain

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It may be hard to believe when you’re watching the sordid, outrageous crimes that take place in Pain and Gain, but this film is based on a true story. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and it’s about bodybuilders on a crime spree in mid-1990s Miami. Action director Michael Bay helmed this terrible low-budget film, which is more than two hours long and feels much longer.

The movie used as its source material a three-part crime series, written by reporter Pete Collins and published in Miami’s “New Times” newspaper. What happens over the course of the film, in brief, is that a weightlifter named Daniel Lugo, portrayed by Wahlberg, forms the Sun Gym Gang. This murderous group includes the fictional Paul Doyle, played by Johnson, a cocaine addict and religious fundamentalist. This stripper-loving, steroid-fueled gang needs money, and so they decide to kidnap, torture and ultimately murder Victor Kershaw, a local deli owner, and later the head of a telephone sex company and his girlfriend.

What makes these criminals, in real life and in the film, especially shocking is that they hold Kershaw hostage for roughly a month, continually torturing him in order to take control of his financial assets. And what makes the movie puzzling – not to mention offensive – is the approach it takes to the story. Instead of crafting a horrific drama, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the authors of the screenplay, decided that they would try to create a quasi-comedy. The key word in that last sentence is “try,” because nothing in the movie is remotely funny. Rather, the film is infested with all kinds of crude, sophomoric jokes, including gags about bodily functions and sex toys. As a result, inevitably, several relatives of the real victims in this case have publicly denounced the movie for trivializing events and presenting the killers in a somewhat positive light, and for attempting to get laughs in the process.

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In recent years, Mark Wahlberg has proven himself a talented and versatile actor, adept in both comedic and dramatic roles. Think of films as different from one another as Ted (2012), about a grown man with a living teddy bear, and The Fighter (2010), a gripping true-life account of a working-class boxer. That Wahlberg would choose to be in Pain and Gain is truly shocking.

On the other hand, that Michael Bay would direct this garbage is not shocking. He’s best known for loud, witless movies such as the Transformers series. And Bay employs his entire arsenal of headache-inducing tricks throughout this picture, including super-fast edits, spinning camera moves and the objectification of his actresses’ bodies. Indeed, the only real difference between the bodybuilders in “Pain and Gain” and the bad robots in “Transformers” is that, once in a while, the giant robots actually seem kind of realistic. Oh, and the Transformers don’t curse or go to strip clubs.


3 out of 5 reels

Author: Eddie D. Shackleford is a writer and blogger for Cable.tv and loves to write about movies, entertainment, TV and more. You can follow Eddie @Eddie20Ford.


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This is the End

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I have to admit, I’m not a big comedy fan. I rarely seek out comedies at the cinemas, it’s not that I don’t like the genre, I just think some of the comedy films have been either average or just boring within the last few years. I prefer my comedies on TV, I love shows like Parks & Recreation, The League and Arrested Development. But when I saw the trailer for This Is The End, I was kind of excited to see it. A disaster and comedy film with big named stars playing themselves, how can it not be funny.

The film opens with Seth Rogen picking up his friend Jay Baruchel at the airport. They stopped at Rogen’s house, drank alcohol, smoked a lot of weed and then decided to head to James Franco’s house for a party he’s throwing. Once there, they ran into who’s who of young comedians in Hollywood. Even Emma (Hermione) Watson and Rihanna were there partying. Everyone was having a great time except Jay, since he’s not as famous as the other actors at the party, he felt left out. So later he asked Seth to go to a convenient store with him to get some cigarettes. While there Jay said he wanted to leave the party and go hang out at Seth’s place, but Seth wanted to stay. Then suddenly there’s an earthquake and some people inside the store got sucked up to the sky by blue lights and some died; violently I have to say.

They ran back to Franco’s place and told everyone what was happening, of course no one believed them, even Seth started to doubt what he saw. Then the earthquake started again and this time there’s a giant sink hole in Franco’s front lawn, a bunch of people fell into it. So James Franco decided to go back into his house believing it’s safer there. The people who came with him were Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen. So most of the film took place inside Franco’s house and the bicker between these actors. Later on in the film, Danny McBride showed up and he and Franco got into a fight about masturbation that will make your stomach hurt from laughing so hard, it’s one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Then later on, a certain big named actor showed up and that also got a huge laugh from the audience.

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I didn’t expect the movie to play it so straight, I mean it’s about the end of world and these actors are trying to survive it. I was hoping they would make fun of the movie industry in general, particularly the big budget tent poles that we see every summer. One thing they did do was to insult one another, a constant running gag was how Jay Baruchel is still unknown since he’s not as popular as the other actors within the group. The movie kind of lost me when it started talking about the rapture and then monsters showed up to hunt down the actors. I don’t want give away too much since I think a lot of people might get a kick out of the story.

Performance-wise everyone was pretty good, especially Jay Baruchel who’s basically the lead in the film. I’ve never seen him in anything before this movie and I thought he’s funny and I can see him becoming the new Jim Carrey. Franco, Rogen, McBride, Hill and Robinson were pretty much playing themselves and most of the time it worked.

All in all, this debut feature film by Evan Goldberg (who wrote Pineapple Express, Superbad) is a decent comedy. If you’re a fan of Goldberg’s previous films that he wrote, as well as Shawn of the Dead, you’re going to enjoy this. Just don’t take your young kids or nieces or nephews to see it, the film contains graphic language and violence.

– Post by Ted S.

2.5 out of 5 reels


Have you seen either one of these films? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments!

FlixChatter Review: How to Train Your Dragon

I don’t know why it took me so long to watch it, as I’ve heard about this movie when Gerard Butler was cast a few years back. But in any case, I’m so glad I finally did. The movie exceeds my already-high expectation, and now stands as one of my favorite animated features ever!

The story centers on a Viking teenage boy Hiccup in a mythical Viking island where the common pests are dragons. It’s his tribes tradition to become a dragon slayer, but despite being the son of the tribe leader, Hiccup is a bit of an misfit as he doesn’t quite share the same warrior mentality as the rest. He’s small, clumsy but inventive. In fact, one of his invention ended up capturing a mysterious dragon. But his life is transformed when Hiccup and the dragon he calls Toothless form an unlikely friendship that break down the preconception each of them have about their species.

  • I initially thought, ‘Wow, Hollywood actually has a fresh, original plot for once!’ But later I learned this movie is loosely based on a book of the same name by Cressida Cowell. But still, the story feels fresh to me the way Shrek was when it first came out.
  • Though it’s an animated feature, it actually deals with some deep themes, such as overcoming fear of people/things that you don’t understand. Instead of seeking to destroy, the message is to take time to understand and build relationship to overcome old prejudices. I even read one review that suggests this should be Hilary Clinton’s approach concerning the Middle East! Now, that’s oversimplifying things just a bit too much, don’t you think? I mean, after all this is a fantasy children flick. Nonetheless, it’s a poignant message. I even think of Hiccup as applying the Samaritan’s sensibility in loving and caring for his enemy.
  • Steve over at The Film Cynics also saw an underlying message of overcoming one’s disability. I won’t say throw much of it away to those who haven’t seen this, but Hiccup and his dragon BFF will later have something to commiserate with considering their circumstances.
  • Great voice cast of Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, and Jonah Hill help bring the character to life. Baruchel is especially engaging and sympathetic as the young protagonist Hiccup–a strange name for a Viking, eh? Both Butler and Ferguson got to revel in their native Scottish brogue, clearly they’re having fun with ’em and I for one could listen to either of them read the phone book for hours! 😉 Butler got to reprise some of 300‘s Leonidas’ leadership prowess with lines like “Either we finish them, or they’ll finish us!”
  • Hiccup’s relationship with Toothless is really the best thing about this movie. Their mutual affection for each other is believable, and when the wall slowly crumbles between the two worlds, I couldn’t help getting all teary-eyed.
  • The film has incredible animation with a variety of dragons flying across the screen. It kind of remind me of the scene in Avatar when Jake first ride the banshee when Hiccup rides Toothless as he flies through the clouds. Beautiful aerial view of the village, it’s as if they’re actually filming it on a helicopter instead of simply a CGI creation.
  • I wish I had seen this in the theater to see it in its full 3D glory, but even in 2D on a home theater it’s still impressive and I was ooh-ah-ing over the breathtaking visuals. Besides the visual eye candy, the movie also offers plenty of heart… which is more than most animated features can offer these days. It’s right up there with Wall-E in terms of how much this movie affected me.

I highly recommend this film to everyone of all ages, it’s bound to entertain even those normally not fond of animation. Don’t worry, the characters won’t suddenly burst into songs on this one a la Disney movies. This one is not only worth renting but worth buying as well. After the movie is over, my husband and I both agree we definitely are getting this one on Blu-ray! 😉

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What do you think of this movie, folks?