So for the first set of reviews for the now WRITTEN Double Feature, we have two VERY different movies from two very different mediums of released. We have the family friendly conclusion to the How to Train Your Dragon Trilogy and lauded television series. Then we have a fascinating little horror movie disguised as a Rom Com in Down: Into the Dark which is brought to us from Hulu. So, all things considered, I am about to dish out some serious whip last when it comes to reviews for these two movies.
How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World
Ah, it is the end of an era! The popular DreamWorks franchise about dragons and humans living together comes to a tearful and respectful end. It certainly was a needed end to the franchise that now sports three movies and a television series under its belt. While it may be sad, in particular for those who followed the series from the beginning, it was certainly time and the ending did not disappoint.
How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World follows our Viking friends and family from the small town of Berk as they make the tiny town a safe haven for dragons everywhere. However, the tragic encroachment of other humans continues to force their hand as more and more are being captured for the sake of warmongering. This all comes to ah ead when Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) arrives. Being the man who hunted the Night Furies to near extinction, he sets his sights on the town of Berk to subjugate the dragons and kill the last night fury. After meeting this new threat, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless pack up the city of Berk as they travel for lands new to escape the continued attacks of the outside world. The story beyond that is one of love and letting go as our heroes reach the end of their story.
Overall, this movie is great and I do not think that would necessarily be in question. Similar to Disney, DreamWorks have perfected the cinematic style to insure that it is safe from failing without pushing too many envelopes. How to Train Your Dragon 3 isn’t here to change the face of cinema. It is here to bring a good franchise to a satisfying conclusion and does its job well. The characters are all ones that we have gotten to know and love, the villain is a great final dragon (metaphorically speaking) to slay, and overall the feeling you walk away with is one that is warm and fuzzy.
Cons are minimal, the biggest, I would say is that the movie itself feels like the end to a child friendly television series. Which… I think it might have honestly been before being made into its own movie. The stakes may seem high but the enemy itself doesn’t feel that challenging and the plot, while being high stakes, feels like a final going through the motions to get to the heart warming conclusion we all knew was coming. It isn’t horrific. But it certainly means that the film is not perfect.
Overall, if you are fan of the franchise it is a must watch and if you are not a fan of the franchise, watch at least the first two movies and then go watch it. You will not be disappointed.
Final Score: 4/5
Down: Into the Dark
Down: Into the Dark, aside from being a name that won the award for most useless secondary title, is a surprisingly good movie that comes to us from Hulu with an interesting message about the horrors of hyper masculinity. In this movie we have a horror film disguised as a meet cute in a malfunctioning elevator. Our two characters, Guy (Matt Lauria) and Jennifer Robbins (Natalie Martinez) find themselves trapped in an elevator for a few days. After their trapped conditions cause a brief romantic connection between the two, things start to get dark after Guy’s true intentions become revealed.
From a positive stand point, this movie certainly does well with a minimalist type of movie. Martinez and Lauria have great chemistry and the story let’s the tension build over time from a harmless romantic comedy trope of being trapped in an elevator leading to a romantic interlude to a true bloody thriller that seems to be a worst nightmare for anyone involved. Both Lauria and Martinez play their roles perfectly as an overworked and relatable character in Jennifer and the nice guy mask of a true evil demon in the Guy character.
The cons of the movie are a mix of poor marketing and writing that is unwilling to push the envelope. I do not want to spoil too much. However, I don’t have to for the fact that the marketing and trailers for this movie push it as a hardcore horror movie when the movie itself feels like a rom com that turns into a thriller when the veil is lifted. As such, I don’t feel too bad about spoiling it since the makers already did it for us.
To add to that, the movie does suffer from not pushing the envelope enough. The movie is a script that takes a target at “nice guy” culture and also at romantic comedies painting truly disturbing actions as adorable and romantic. However, the fact that the villain is so nefarious and willing to kill and is willing to go to such extremes allows people who engage in this activity an out to say “that isn’t me.” This movie could truly target these people to break their habits by forcing them to relate to the character in a way that isn’t pleasant. But instead, because he feels so alien, it is easy to say “it isn’t me” and move on with your happy life.
Overall, Down: Into the Dark is a decent Straight-to-Hulu movie that does take some shots at toxic masculinity culture. It isn’t stellar… But it is worth a watch.
Final Score: 3/5
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