Im late to the party, but I just saw this last night, and I've been sorting through my emotions trying to figure out why Im so disappointed ever since.
I agree with a lot of the points made here about the movie lacking the drive and drama of the first two. But my biggest disappointment is Toothless. Hiccup has proved his loyalty to Toothless over and over. He will stop at nothing to protect Toothless and he will choose Toothless over everything else everytime. I might argue he is even more loyal to Toothless than he is to Astrid. Yet Toothless is willing to run off the minute a female shows up, and only comes back temporarily because Hiccup goes and gets him. Toothless should have fought for his friendship with Hiccup tooth and nail.
Hiccup and Astrid have proved that there is no need for the dragon/rider relationship to get in the way of a love connection. They've been dating for several years now without their relationships with their respective dragons causing any issues. Neither of them is jealous of the other's relationship with their dragon because they are secure in their connection to each other. Toothless falling in love with a dragon who didn't want to coexist with humans felt like the classic story of a guy getting into an unhealthy relationship with a girl who forces him to lose all his other friendships because she's insecure and she wants all his attention. This made me hate the Lightfury.
On multiple occasions we see that the Hidden World is less than a day's flight there and back. There was no reason they couldn't have lived both places! Both Toothless and the Lightfury loved the nighttime. Why not spend nights in the Hidden World and days on New Berk?
During the movies, Toothless is the last of his kind. He sees all the other dragons finding mates and being happy. It is also stated in the movie that Nightfury's mate for life. And his mate was afraid of humans. As any normal dragon would. The Berk dragons didn't fit the normal pattern.
In the animal world, instinct takes over. Friendship is nice and all, but mated for life takes priority.
On the Toothless part. They repeatedly kept a subtle, but firm line throughout every film that Toothless is a wild dragon. Much like you see stories of lions and other animals remembering their trainers/rescuers/caretakers years later. The relationship is deep, strong and important - but the animal is at the end of the day, an animal. It may see us as peers, an alpha or part of a pack, but the more complex ties humans generally form with each other probably doesn't exist on the same level.
Furthermore - even if you wander more into saying Toothless is equal to the humans shown in the movie - they establish in the first movie that Hiccup and Toothless have their own individual desires, thoughts and opinions. Toothless reverts to Hiccup, but he's his own being. So when a life choice came up and it was clearly vital to him, Hiccup made sure to encourage him to do so, even at the cost of their current relationship.
The movie was as much about Toothless coming into his own as the King of Dragons as it was Hiccup becoming the King of Berkians. Their duties to their respective kingdoms changed how their relationship was and it couldn't continue like that anymore.
Even when Hiccup goes to visit Toothless years later, he's defensive and ready to attack incase Toothless attacks. It was long enough that they both were coming as kings of their domain, then when it was clear everything was okay, they set that aside and picked back up their relationship as it was.
I don't see anything wrong with that.
Ok, but Toothless isn't a person. He's an animal. You simply can't apply "love" to animals in that regard. Toothless wasn't in love with the Light Fury, they are mates. Of course he'll pick her, as would any animal that mates for life. This argument honestly annoys me. He's an animal. Also, the Light Fury and Toothless have a natural relationship... she isn't abusive??? I was also talking to an animal behaviourist that figured Toothless would have returned after getting used to THW. It's the greed and ignorance of man that made Hiccup send Toothless off, not Light Fury. Hell, we see how thrilled Toothless is when he recognized Hiccup at the end.
I felt like Dreamworks' desire to keep happy/funny/goofy toothless got in the way of what they had written. As such the fact that he had become alpha of all dragons was completely ignored the second the lightfury came into the scene. And none of that could really change the fact that what was on-screen during the "coupling" felt like some sort of Yiff-fanservice.
The characterization was super inconsistent. The supporting kids grew more as characters in the first movie than in this one.
When it came to the villain, it's clear that the writers subscribe to the "tell, don't show" mindset. It really should have started with like a 15 minute cold-open showing the reasonable motivation of the villain and how he'd want to destroy dragons for what they did to his village.
In all, the movie just never seemed to... get going. And for all the titling of "The Hidden World" I think it had, what.. 5 minutes of screentime? Maybe 10?
And strange as it may seem, and I'm sure this would have been shot down by Dreamworks Corporate, but I would have started the movie with adult Hiccup.
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