How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
A wonderful conclusion to a fantastic trilogy of films.
The Hidden World may be the best looking film of the bunch, with gorgeous animation and John Powell’s brilliant score bringing all the feels.
Adding a love interest for Toothless might make the film a bit more predictable than its predecessors, but we are quickly reminded why we love these characters and this journey and root for a proper and just resolution for all involved.
I feel bad for you if this is true, but maybe you’re just over this How To Train Your Dragon thing. What a shame.
As someone who loves these films, I disagree - but detractors feel the film is bland and the franchise has overstayed its welcome. Luckily, there are not many of them out there.
If you haven’t enjoyed one of these yet, this is not the film to change your mind.
One of the finest trilogies of all time concludes with the wonderful finale, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Nine years ago audiences were mesmerized and blown away by the saga of Toothless, a once-believed-to-be extinct Night Fury dragon and his unwitting human companion, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). Coupled with its 2014 sequel, this franchise has proven to be a surprisingly emotional, thoughtful, and powerful look at maturity, the absence of innocence, and a struggle with an inevitability that nothing lasts forever and all things eventually come to an end.
What feels like lofty concepts for younger viewers to comprehend has been masterfully delivered by director Dean DeBlois, again the writer and director of this installment, which finds a now-adult Hiccup struggling with the logistics of maintaining his makeshift sanctuary of dragons and humans.
Though they peacefully co-exist around one another, humanitarian efforts of saving dragons has left everything cramped and overpopulated on Hiccup’s home island, Berk. He finds a solution when recalling his late father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), speaking of “The Hidden World.” Though no one has ever proven this place exists, Hiccup sees this as the eventual destination for his rescued creatures.
And it will be that journey that provides the drama within The Hidden World. Naturally, the best laid plans are interrupted with the arrival of Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), a dragon hunter whose goal in finding Toothless and any other Night Furys, proves a dire, distressing complication.
The strength of this franchise, and in DeBlois’ storytelling, is that even when moments feel predictable, How to Train Your Dragon finds ways to keep us compelled, on the edge of our seats, and engaged in what is happening before us. These films have delivered some of the most exhilarating animated sequences of the century, much less the decade, amplified by the soaring, almost ethereal score of composer John Powell.
While The Hidden World may not have that jaw-dropping moment this time around (is there anything better than when Hiccup and Toothless take flight for the first time in the 2010 original?), we are telling a different-style of story here. There is urgency in the drama and adventure, stakes at play with Grimmel’s ruinous goals, and the heart-tugging introduction of a second Night Fury dragon, an opaque-white female, dubbed a Light Fury by Hiccup’s best friend, Astrid (America Ferrara).
The film has few deficiencies. If anything, DeBlois’ choice to not only deliver an emotional obstacle for our main characters, but also introduce a new villain and potential love interest for Toothless, feels occasionally dense from a plot standpoint. The Hidden World is certainly easy to follow, but almost has too much going on, sacrificing some of the more comedic and action-laden sequences of the past, for more melodramatic ones which somewhat stifle the film’s overall pacing.
But there is a sense of maturity through loss that permeates much of The Hidden World’s storytelling. And the script, when dealing with these themes, is fantastic. Unafraid of introducing such ideas to young viewers, DeBlois handles Hiccup and Toothless’ story with a grace and intelligence that speaks to everyone.
To be alive is to make connection. And DeBlois reminds us that making connections, for all the good and bad that may come with those experiences, are crucial to how we survive each day.
From a visual effects and animation standpoint, The Hidden World is the most impressive of the trilogy. The detail on the dragons is more refined, the backgrounds as vivid and alive as we have seen them. Again, How to Train Your Dragon offers a stunning presentation, and, aside from the groundbreaking look and feel of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this is one of the best-looking animated films of recent memory.
By the end, when you may very well be dabbing a buttery popcorn napkin around your eyes, this final chapter may make you want to go back and start the series all over again.
A fitting conclusion to a beautiful trilogy, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World does not disappoint.
CAST & CREW
Featuring the Voices of: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrara, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington, Justin Rupple, David Tennant.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Written by: Dean DeBlois
Based on the book series “How To Train Your Dragon” by Cressida Crowell
Release Date: February 22, 2019