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How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Dreamworks has had some strong series in their animation wing (Kung Fu Panda, Shrek) and How To Train Your Dragon has possibly been their very best. The Hidden World marks the close to this story (Which also has a television series) and completion of a trilogy. Each of these films has been full of fantasy action, adventure and severely pulls at those heartstrings. The final adventure will be flying through the skies of 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray and blowing beautiful HDR fire into your viewing rooms when it arrives on May 21st. Pre-order for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World available below!

Film 

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.

All good things come to an end, but not all of them are lucky enough to come to a good end, but How To Train Your Dragon proved to a rock solid achievement from start to finish. The through line of the series felt consistent, always growing and always true in and of itself in the end. This latest journey is a happy goodbye with a somber feeling, but that was sort of inevitable and in tradition of what this series delivers anyway.

This final adventure is one of that comes of the inevitable, in letting the dragons be on their own. Not as an enemy, but no longer as a creature of servitude or the property of a Viking. Not that the community has an ill-willed relationship, its just time to move on and be free and join up with the community that lies in the subtitle’s place.

In order to get to that there has to be one final threat, and it comes in good form from the legendary F. Murray Abraham. Grimmel is a creepo and one unlike we’ve ever had in the series to this point. Beyond his obvious villainy of hunting the dragons, there are good debates and character relation developments between our main cast as they manage to grow up and move on in their own ways. Most notable is Hiccup’s growth as a person and leader, but the smaller characters all get little bitty arcs as well.

The Hidden World is full of good character work, some suspense, impressive animated sequences and thrilling, big action worthy of any live-action film of the same genre. Its a terrific time at the movies. Side note, I did wonder what they’d do with TJ Miller’s character here and felt as if it was just someone doing an impression of him the whole time, which, looking at the cast list following the movie, I was right. Anywho, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss a few dragons goodbye. Check out The Hidden World.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a 4K upscale from a film finished with a 2K digital intermediate. Not being native 4K is no bother as this looks absolutely wonderful with a nice crisp picture, littered with fantastic detail, definition and color at every turn. The characters and objects in the film look like figures you could almost want to pick up. Its also a definite step up from the Blu-ray and maybe my favorite looking fully animated film on the format.

Depth:  The film carries a wildly 3 dimensional look to it and is super impressive every time we have flight sequences, especially when there are a myriad of other dragons/people/ships/objects in the air. The camera moves so freely and confidently with smooth swoops and the like. No motion distortions at all.

Black Levels: Blacks are very natural and deep, keeping some terrific shadowing and darkness to the caverns and nighttime sequences with no loss of detail. No crushing witnessed during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are absolutely gorgeous, from the dragons to the fabrics and housing on display in the film. The hidden world portions are loaded with gorgeous HDR which also comes in hand for fire, eyes in the dark, chemicals and more.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 7.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World accompanies an outstanding picture with an outstanding Atmos track. It provides a full force experience that excels in the rolling sound travel throughout the room with a expertly mixed track. It has a great balance between effects, vocals and score. The detail and layered depth on the effects is to the touch terrific and makes things feel so ever present in the room.

Height: Plenty of action going on above with a lot of dragon wings flapping, fire, crumbling debris and more throughout. They also chip in on the score and some ambient sounds from time to time as well.

Low Frequency Extension: Swooping, explosions, roaring fire, stomping, crashing, sword clanging and more get a good variant rumble from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Every speaker is fully utilized here and their interplay and assisting one another in traveling around the room is an absolute thrill to experience. Many direction surges come throughout the movie and you get a really good feel of them as they happen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good attention to diction-esque detail from the voice-over actors. Dialogue is audible no matter how big the action and always feels a part of it.

Extras 

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis, and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto

DreamWorks Shorts

  • Bilby (4K, 8:01)
  • Bird Karma (4K, 4:48)

Alternate Opening with Optional Intro By Writer/Director Dean DeBlois (4K, 3:19)

Deleted Scenes with Optional Intros By Writer/Director Dean DeBlois (4K, 9:15)

How to Voice Your Viking (4K, 1:33) – A small featurette that showcases the voice actors recording their dialogue in the studio.

Creating an Epic Dragon Tale (4K, 4:25) – This featurette goes over how they’ve built the world through 3 films through various character and setting additions and weaving things in naturally.

How I Learned from Dragons (4K, 3:42) – Some of the more prominent returning actor reflect on their journey through working on it for 3 films.

Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome – This goes over the real life creatures that influenced the animation styles and behavioral decisions in the film.

  • Birds and Bats Are Awesome (4K, 3:34)
  • Animal + Animal = Dragon (4K, 4:16)

The Dragon Sheep Chronicles – Animated shorts.

  • Friend vs. Food (4K, 1:21)
  • The Secret Sheep Society (4K, 1:18)

A Deck of Dragons (4K, 3:29) – Takes a look at the new dragons introduced in The Hidden World.

Growing Up with Dragons (4K, 3:34) – This discusses our hero, Hiccup’s journey through the three films in the series.

The Evolving Character Design of Dragons (4K, 3:18) – Shows the aging process of the characters from the original through the two sequels.

Drawing Dragons (4K, 3:09) – A look back at the dragon designs throughout all three films.

Epic Villain (4K, 1:44) – The villain for The Hidden World, Grimmel, is on display and discussed in this featurette.

Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds (4K, 1:09) – The entire series told in 60 seconds.

Welcome To New Berk (4K, 2:13) – Hiccup discusses how they found their new land and continue to pay tribute to their rich dragon history. Plays as a kind of epilogue to the film

Summary 

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a wonderful capper for a terrific animated series. The 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release gives an impressive upscaled presentation visually with a very rocking and active Atmos track. There are loads of fluffy extras to enjoy afterword as well. This is a nice complete release, looking its best in the best format available.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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