How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Nearly ten years after the first movie wowed audiences around the world, Hiccup and Toothless return to captivate fans with an adventure of a lifetime in DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Check out Ralph Potts’ review of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

96

Details:

Studio and Year: Universal/DreamWorks – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 104 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Voices of: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrer, T.J. Miller, Kristin Wiig, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Cate Blancett, Kit Harrington, F. Murray Abraham
Written & Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Music by: John Powell
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: May 21, 2019

“The Friendship of a Lifetime”

Synopsis:

“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.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

From DreamWorks Animation comes a surprising tale about growing up, finding the courage to face the unknown…and how nothing can ever train you to let go. What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic adventure spanning their lives. Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia.

When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together—to the very ends of the Earth—to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.

I am admittedly a fan of How to train your Dragon and its sequel How to Train your Dragon 2. Each is a big hit with my family and I have seen them numerous times. These are wonderfully entertaining animated films that never seems to lose their luster. When How to train your Dragon: The Hidden World was released earlier this year we saw it opening weekend. Like its predecessors the story is well developed and carries a positive message about friendship, family and loving devotion, while adding a spirited element of adventure that combine for a delightfully entertaining animated film that’s easy to get lost in as it warms the heart, tickles the funny bone and closes out the wonderful story of Hiccup and Toothless.

While there is no doubt that the How to train your Dragon films are primarily aimed at a specific target demographic, the themes of coming of age, familial estrangement, loss, and devoted friendship, elevate it, providing resonant tones that appeal to a broader audience. Having seen How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World twice now, I found myself every bit as caught up and reveling in the well spun and familiar humor, spirited adventure, superlative animation and, effecting emotion. I actually found this second viewing to be better than when I saw it in the theater.

The entire voice cast from the first two films reprise their roles and are every bit as fun. The production elements are simply amazing and add an enriching element that makes the experience all the better.

I can’t say enough about the How to train your Dragon film trilogy. The Hidden World is a befitting sendoff that builds upon the foundation of the first two installments. It’s an endearing family film that is sure to see plenty of replays in my home. I will miss the gang from Berk but, luckily I can visit them in my home theater again and again…

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for adventure action and some mild rude humor.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

I watched the Blu-ray version of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World first, so going into viewing the Ultra HD presentation it’s 1080p video quality was still fresh in my mind. Digital animation tends to look quite good in high definition so I couldn’t help but have preconceived notions regarding a positive viewing experience of this film in Ultra HD. This presentation is rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

In terms of resolution the differences are apparent as there is a noticeably finer texture in the minutia, especially in the characteristics/physical makeup of the characters. The first shots of Berk just after the opening sequence look stunning. This also applied to backgrounds, such as the structures, mountains, and interiors of the dwellings in Berk, which had excellent depth of field. The image has lots of pop as the expanded color gamut and emboldened dynamic range draw out the broad chromatic palate, and use of contrast. The scene where Hiccup and Astrid arrive at the Hidden World looked fantastic.

Whites are gradational and bright and the monochromatic grays, blues and black featured in the sequences that take place at night, or with limited lighting, such as the scene where the Light Fury teaches Hiccup how to use his flame bursts as camouflage, appears multi-staged and dimensional in appearance.

The application of HDR added a complimentary and defining element that proved eye-catching. The opening scene features a murky/foggy rescue where Hiccups flame sword looks dazzling against the light gray background. The encounter at Grimmel’s lair features fiery bursts and mini explosions that sparkle against the deep, shadowy backgrounds. The brief scene at the Hidden World is a showcase for HDR.

As good as HTTYD: The Hidden World looks in 1080p, the Ultra HD rendering takes it to another level, entirely, making for a visually engaging, faithful and, gratifying video presentation.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, music, and discrete sound effects. This is done very well and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The mix effectively places effects/sounds within the soundstage which place you within the scene, in turn, adding an enriching element that heightens the intended feeling like something is passing overhead, traveling through the room, or emanating from a specific location.

There are ample times where near field objects, and multi-staged atmospherics places you inside the scene as sounds rotate and revolve around the sound field from both above and at ear level. While this is not what I would regard as an aggressive Atmos mix, it is an active one, that complimented the source material and made for an entertaining listening experience.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atoms/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent video presentation that boasts vibrant colors that are rich in saturation and bold in depth. Detail rendering is terrific as the video has three-dimensional quality with crisp texture and excellent fine articulation. Contrast is boldly applied, whites are crisp, and colors pop without distortion or loss of detail. Blacks are deep with excellent dynamic and enriching gradational highlights. This is a beautiful and pristine quality digital transfer that sparkles on Blu-ray.

The 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core) soundtrack makes for a rewarding home theater experience. Dynamics are solid, providing the elements contained within the recording with definitive energy and potent impact. John Powell’s music score plays an integral role in this presentation and the entire surround platform is used to present the instrumental performance.

Dialog is crystalline with appreciable tonal inflection and non-sibilant vocal character. The auditory is rich in clarity and detail which allows the subtle environmental sounds in the recording to easily be heard. The mix creates an immersive surround sound experience that achieves excellent balance which correlates nicely with the events transpiring onscreen. Low frequency effects are solid and when called upon engage the room with palpable low-level bass. This is an involving surround sound mix that makes for an entertaining audio presentation. Be sure to give the volume knob a few extra clicks.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: How to train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: How to train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Blu-ray
    • Alternate Opening with Intro by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
    • DreamWorks Shorts:
    o Bilby – Directed by Liron Topaz, Pierre Perifel and JP Sans; produced by Jeff Hermann and Kelly Cooney Cilella. Threatened daily by the deadly residents and harsh environment of Australia’s Outback, a lonesome Bilby finds himself an unwitting protector, and unexpected friend, to a helpless (and quite adorable) baby bird.
    o Bird Karma – Directed by William Salazar and produced by Jeff Hermann, the beautifully artistic 2D short film Bird Karma tells a delightfully lyrical and fully unexpected tale of a long-legged bird’s journey of blissful joy, inescapable greed and the accidental discovery of the consequences when too much is not enough.
    • Deleted Scenes with Intros by Writer/Director Dean DeBlois
    • How to Voice Your Viking – Go behind the scenes with the cast as they record the Viking voices of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD.
    • Creating an Epic Dragon Tale – Discover what filmmakers learned while crafting this epic dragon trilogy.
    • How I Learned from Dragons – The diverse cast of characters reveal why they think the dragon trilogy is so special.
    • Brave Wilderness Presents: Nature + Dragons = Awesome – Join Coyote Peterson, host of Brave Wilderness, as he explores what it takes to make the dragon’s characters come to life.
    • The Dragon Sheep Chronicles – Protecting sheep from the dragons of Berk is no easy task but Hiccup has a plan.
    • A Deck of Dragons – Observe four new dragons as Fishlegs unveils his original deck of dragon trading cards.
    • Growing Up with Dragons – After years of being with these characters, hear the lasting effects of the dragon trilogy from the filmmaker’s perspective.
    • The Evolving Character Design of Dragons – Cast and crew reveal what it was like to evolve not only the characters of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, but themselves as well.
    • Drawing Dragons – Get a glimpse of what goes in to designing a DreamWorks dragon.
    • Epic Villain – A different kind of villain, Grimmel brings great challenges to the village of Berk. Go behind the scenes as filmmakers breakdown this epic character.
    • Astrid’s Whole Dragon Trilogy in 60 Seconds – Hold on tight as Astrid sums up the whole dragon trilogy in a legendary 60 seconds.
    • Welcome to New Berk – With Hiccup as your guide, get a firsthand look at the updated Viking village of New Berk.
    • Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Like its predecessors How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is high flying family entertainment that warms the heart, thanks to a strong script, excellent casting and apt direction from writer/director Dean DeBlois. DreamWorks doesn’t miss a beat with its stellar video presentation and rousing lossless sound (including a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive listening track) that shines in Ultra HD and standard high definition on Blu-ray Disc.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment includes a host of bonus material which includes DreamWorks animated short films, filmmaker commentary, a behind the scenes look and more. I thoroughly enjoyed the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy and found this final installment to be a fitting conclusion. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World comes highly recommend for inclusion in your Blu-ray library.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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