Tuesday, June 11, 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Universal Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation bring you the latest installment in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise, available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and Digital Copy. What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic trilogy spanning their lives. In this next installment, the heroic pair finally fulfill their destinies; Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) as the village chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid (America 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 (F. Murray Abraham), and Toothless discovers his soulmate, Light Fury – the bonds of Hiccup and Toothless' friendship are tested like never before.
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
If you’ve never seen a How to Train Your Dragon film, you will be able to start with this film and figure out what’s going on. Of course, I recommend watching a film franchise from the beginning. If you just can’t commit to the previous films, know that this is the story of Vikings and dragons co-existing.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless are practically inseparable. Hiccup is now the leader of the Viking village of Berk. The humans and dragons have been living together and thriving but the villain Grimmel (Voiced by F. Murray Abraham) threatens their peaceful way of life. Grimmel is responsible for the near extinction of the Night Fury Dragons. Using a rare white Light Fury, Grimmel hopes to lure Toothless from his master and best friend. For Toothless, it’s love at first sight when he discovers the Light Fury dragon. As Hiccup struggles to find security and safety for his fellow Vikings, he has to come to terms with the realization that more than just their home is changing.

The Hidden World offers sanctuary for the dragons but what would Berk be without their flying friends? How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World features the voice talents of America Ferrara, Kit Harrington, Gerard Butler and more returning actors. It is a sweet story about growing up and moving on. Many of the filmmakers have been with these characters for the last decade and it’s clear they put a lot of heart into wrapping up the story. That’s not to say we won’t see more adventures down the road but for now this is a fitting end to the trilogy.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
Although finished at 2K, the 4K UHD version of the film deserves top marks. Expectations are high with a completely digital film. It is worth noting that the Blu-ray presents very well. Color is dramatically enhanced. The dragons offer a chance to admire both color and detail. Berk and New Berk make the viewer appreciate subtle environmental details like rocks and greenery. The sky is bluer and the water clearer on 4K. Neither offering disappoints but the 4K UHD version truly shines.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is rich and engulfing. The track is well balanced and intentional. Both music and dialogue are clear and consistent. No complaints for the soundtrack which is well matched with the stellar video presentation.
Extras (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 
The special features below are available in 4K and a digital copy is also included:
  • DreamWorks Shorts
    • Bilby (8:01) – Desert creatures co-existing, some getting along better than others.
    • Bird Karma (4:49) – The ups and downs of one particular bird.
  • Alternate Opening – (4:16) A different uncompleted beginning with optional Intro by Writer/Director Dean Deblois
  • Deleted Scenes (12:49 total runtime with intros) -Automatic Tail; Protector vs. Captor; Spy Mission; Mind Before the Sword and Your Responsibility. Includes optional introductions by Writer/Director Dean Deblois.
  • How to Voice Your Viking (1:34) Recording footage from the actors.
  • Creating an Epic Dragon Tale (4:26) – Expanding the world and the Director’s epic vision. Includes a brief look at the crew, some of whom spent 10 years working together on these films.
  • How I Learned from Dragons (3:42) – The major messages the stars took away from a decade bringing their characters to life.
  • Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome (7:53) With play all functionality, two featurettes: Birds and Bats are Awesome and Animal + Animal = Dragon. Dragon flight inspirations and flight mechanics are detailed, as well as animal inspirations.
  • The Dragon Sheep Chronicles (2:35 total runtime) With play all option, Friend vs. Food and The Secret Sheep Society. Both look at how to keep dragons from eating the sheep
  • A Deck of Dragons (3:29) – Four new dragons are detailed.
  • Growing Up With Dragons (3:34) – Hiccup and Toothless are an amazing team but they both have growing up to do in this film.
  • The Evolving Character Design of Dragons (3:19) – See how the designs evolved with the characters and the filmmakers through the years.
  • Drawing Dragons (3:09) – Animators creating a world full of varied dragons with a high level of detail and personality.
  • Epic Villain (1:44) – Bad guy Grimmel’s villainous characteristics are explored. Includes recording footage with F. Murray Abraham.
  • Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 seconds (1:09) – America Ferrara quickly runs through her characters history.
  • Welcome to New Berk (2:13) – An overview of the accidental destination that became home to the Vikings.
  • Feature Commentary – Writer/Director Den Deblois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto provide a thoughtful feature length commentary.
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a thoughtful, fitting conclusion to the story of Hiccup and Toothless. The 4K UHD version of the film is remarkably clean and crisp with an exceptional quality Blu-ray included. The supplemental features are heartfelt and worth watching. Recommended.

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