“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” (Universal)

Animated characters Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera, and Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, appear in the movie "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. (CNS/Universal)

By Catholic News Service

Visuals are sumptuous, but the story scant as writer-director Dean DeBlois wraps up a trilogy of animated adventures in all three of which, based on books by Cressida Cowell, he has had a hand. Now the ruler of the community of Vikings whose aversion to dragons he cured, the lad (voice of Jay Baruchel) at the center of the franchise continues his romance with his true love (voice of America Ferrera) even as he battles a villain (voice of F. Murray Abraham) intent on ensnaring his beloved pet fire-breather.

There’s a melancholy feel to the script’s ultimate lesson in altruism, though, like the values throughout, it’s a message in keeping with a Christian perspective. Yet the dialogue often breaks down into wooden declarations so self-satisfied they’re grating. Still, it’s a feast for the eyes that’s safe for all but timid tots and those too impressionable for the vaguely pagan milieu.

Characters in peril, much thoroughly stylized combat, mythological references, fleeting childish scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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