Used to be, we watched movies about a boy and his dog. These classics ran from “Lassie Come Home” to “Old Yeller,” from “My Dog Skip” to (yes) “A Boy and His Dog.”
Sorry, Fido. Today’s kids dream of having a pet dragon.
Sure, dad and mom have been watching “Game of Thrones” and “Merlin.” But since 2010 your kids have been taking pet-sitting notes from “How to Train Your Dragon.” And there was a refresher course with its 2014 sequel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
Now those little dragoneers have the third movie in DreamWorks Animation’s trilogy, this one called “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”
The “How to Train Your Dragon” film franchise is loosely based on a book series by British author Cressida Cowell. The Brits — along with the Chinese — seem to be into dragon lore.
While DreamWorks execs are calling this a trilogy, keep in mind that Cressida has written 16 books about dragons and the training thereof.
Why stop now?
(That was a paid message from one of my nephews. He seems to have an affinity for dragons, too.)
DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg waffles when asked how many dragon movies there might be. “At least three; maybe more,” he says. My nephew may get his wish. We’ll have to wait and see.
The plot is cute. A young dragon rider named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) continues his mission of saving captured dragons. He relies on the help of his trusty flying reptile, Toothless. Those two are as close as a boy and his … well, you know.
Turns out, the island where Hiccup lives is becoming overcrowded with rescued dragons, so the boy sets off to find a fabled Hidden World that could provide a safe haven for this endangered species. Seems his late father told him stories about this faraway place.
However, an infamous dragon hunter known as Grimmel the Grisly (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) uses a beautiful, white dragoness (if that’s actually a word) named Light Fury as bait to trap Toothless. The two dragons become enchanted with each other, manage to elude Grimmel’s traps and fly away together.
While searching for Toothless, Hiccup and his gal pal Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) find the Hidden World. But Grimmel continues his assault, leading to a battle royale in the sky that involves the dragons.
Will humans and dragons ever be able to co-exist?
The answer to that question may explain why you haven’t seen many of these winged lizards lately.
Other voices in the cast that are fun to recognize: Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant and wacky Kristen Wiig.
As for the romance between Toothless and Light Fury, a better title for this movie might have been “How to Mate Your Dragon.” But never mind — there are kids in the audience.
Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. Films he’s worked on include “Men In Black,” Spider Man” and “Daredevil” among others. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina.