What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic trilogy panning their lives. In "How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World," the last installment, the heroic pair finally fulfill their destinies; Hiccup (Baruchel) as the village chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid (Ferrera), and Toothless as the dragon leader of his own kind. As the Vikings and dragons of Berk face their darkest threat yet, the evil Grimmel (Abraham) and Toothless discover his soulmate, Light Fury––the bonds of Hiccup and Toothless' friendship are tested like never before. Based on the "How To Train Your Dragon" Book Series by Cressida Cowell. (Gary Reber)
Special features include commentary with Writer/Director Dean Deblois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Characters animation Simon Otto; the DreamWorks shorts "Bilby" (HD 08:01) and "Bird Karma" (HD 04:48); an alternate opening with intro by DeBlois (HD 04:15); five deleted scenes with intros by DeBlois (HD 12:48); the following featurettes: "How To Voice Your Vikiing" (HD 01:33), "Creating An Epic Dragon Tale" (HD 04:25), "How I Learned From Dragons" (HD 03:2), "A Deck Of Dragons" (HD 03:29), "Growing Up With Dragons" (HD 03:34), "The Evolving Character Design Of Dragons" (HD 03:18), "Drawing Dragons" (HD 03:09), "Epic Villain" (HD 01:44), "Astrid's Whole Dragon Trilogy In 60 Seconds" (HD 01:09); The Dragon Sheep Chronicles" (HD 02:35) and "Welcome To New Berk" (HD 02:13 ); Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome (HD 07:52); upfront previews and a Movies Anywhere digital code.
The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was computer-animated digitally and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been unconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. While the original source element was digital 3D, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment did not provide a 3D Blu-ray Disc version for review, unlike the previous two editions reviewed on 3D Blu-ray Disc. As for picture quality, it is fantastic with impressive image clarity and color fidelity. The wide color gamut (WCG) associated with HDR provides impressive hue shadings and lushness afforded by the carefully rendered animation. What is particularly engaging is the color spectrum associated with the variously colored dragons and the colors exhibited in Berk and the Hidden World. Hues are warm and rich in appearance with a spectacular range of pastels exhibited throughout. Animated fleshtones of the Vikings and Grimmel are tonally satisfying throughout and are as natural as animation will permit. HDR contrast is excellent. Highlights are never exaggerated but appear pleasing and balanced and provide excellent contrast differences. Bright highlights, such as the snow-infused scene as the backdrop of the marriage of Hiccup and Astrid, appear naturally balanced. Black levels throughout are deep and revealing of shading as well as shadow delineation. Resolution is sensational with fine detail exhibited throughout, down to the finest textures exhibited in Viking armor, wooden structures and ships, dragon scales, and earthy landscape and sky nuances. Species of dragons are countless, each distinctively animated with impressive rendering of fine, textured detail, such as dragon scales and bony protruding structures. Toothless is exquisitely rendered, as well as the other dragons, especially in close-ups, all of which contrast with the non-textured smoothness of the white Night Fury. WOW! segments are from 01:05 to 06:25, 22:52 to 23:42, 32:32 to 33:25, 39:14 to 44:30. 55:58 to 57:35, 01:02:22 to 01:07:22, 01:14;17 to 01:15:36, 01:21:42 to 01:24:15, 01:28:25 to 01:30:12 and 01:30:48 to 01:33:52.
This is a superbly crafted animated feature with a lush color palette and dazzling resolution, the marks of reference quality and a phenomenal visual experience. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is as aurally immersive as the imagery. John Powell's spectacular, soaring orchestral/choral score, which briefly recaps themes from the first movie within the broader newer material, is also beautifully presented and occupies a wide and deep soundstage that extends to the side, rear and height layer channels. The added channels provide a more focused and larger frontal hemisphere of sound, providing enhanced support for panning around the soundfield and spherically. The soundfield is exceptionally spacious and dimensional, with an aggressive directionalized surround presence contributed by atmospheric and sound effects. The imaginative world of Vikings and Dragons is excitingly portrayed in engaging soundscapes. Explosions are dramatic and fully energized with .1 LFE extension to sub-25 Hz frequencies. Other, often-engaging sound effects offer excellent LFE, as well as effectively placed directionality. LFE extension is deep and provides effective foundational support for the almost constant action. During battle scenes, in particular, the surrounds are fiery aggressive, with dragon fireballs shooting off in various directions, and the sense of full scale envelopment is impressive. Even during quieter scenes, low-level ambiance and atmospheric sounds are rendered with artful dimensionality. Dialogue, while ADR, sounds nicely integrated spatially.
The Immersive Sound element is comprised primarily of the orchestral/choral score throughout plus three sound effects: thunder, a dragon crash, and a growl from Hiccup. While the music really works well too as a height layer element, far more could have been done in terms of atmospherics and sound effects.
This is a dynamic-sounding, reference-quality holosonic® spherical surround soundtrack throughout!