How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review
After becoming the chief of Berk, Hiccup has fulfilled his dream of creating a peaceful dragon utopia, while the sudden discovery of a wild, elusive mate lures Toothless away. When danger threatens their village and tests Hiccup's reign as chief, Hiccup and Toothless are forced to leave the only home they know. As they travel to a hidden world thought to only exist in myth, both dragon and rider will fight together to the very end to protect everything they love in order to take down a dangerous enemy
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
by Ashley Hobley
How To Train Your Dragon is one of the best cinema experiences I have been fortunate to enough to have had. Flying through the skies with Toothless for the first time was a joyous moment that brought a wide grin to my face. There was just a certain magic to that film and How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is proof that that magic is very difficult to recapture.
Set 1 year after the events of How To Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now the chieftain of Berk after his father’s death. He leads his crew of dragon riders on raids of dragon trapping ships, rescuing the dragons and taking them back to Berk, causing overcrowding issues. An alliance of warlords looking to build their own dragon army recruit a renowned Night Fury killer, Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), to capture Toothless, who as dragon alpha has a hypnotic control over other dragons. Meanwhile, Toothless comes across a Light Fury, a female companion, that he seeks to court.
Let there be no doubt, this is a stunning movie. The animation and art design for these films has gone up another couple of levels. All the dragon riders now sport fireproof armour made from their dragons shed scales which look really cool. The Hidden World mentioned in the title is also a very special sight to see, a real visual treat. Toothless also learns a new ability that is a delight to watch him utilize.
The interactions between Toothless and the Light Fury are the best part of this film. Watching Toothless attempt to impress the Light Fury is equal parts hilarious and adorable. It was a bit like watching a nature documentary, something I would happily watch for a few hours if Dreamworks is interested. The relationship between Hiccup and Astrid (America Ferrera) is also core to this film, as Hiccup struggles to deal not only with taking up responsibility for Berk and its inhabitants, but also that Toothless is seeking more freedom to be with the Light Fury. Astrid is doing her best with guidance from Valka (Cate Blanchett), Hiccup’s mum, to help build Hiccup’s confidence as a leader. The relationship does feel like a progession of what we’ve seen from them in the previous films, which justifies Gobber’s (Craig Ferguson) suggestion of marriage.
Grimmel is a decent adversary, he is a bit one-dimensional and is solely focused on hunting down Toothless and Hiccup. He has a dragon controlling drug that he uses on a flock of dragons which are very threatening but don’t instill you with the same level of fear or dread that the Red Death or the Bewilderbeast did in the prior films. This, with a simple plot, makes the film feel like a much smaller outing than the previous entry which does allow for more character moments but lacks the big moments of the first two films. The third act hits a lot of notes that we have seen in the prior films which makes it feel a little repetitive and familiar. I also feel obligated to mention that a certain marketing choice undercuts some of the emotional weight of the ending, at least for me.
The supporting cast does a solid job of bringing the laughs and are each given a chance to shine, particularly Snotlout (Jonah Hill) who is infatuated with Hiccup’s mum and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple, replacing T.J. Miller) who is convinced that he has fooled everyone that his long hair tied around his neck is actually a luscious viking beard. Stoick (Gerard Butler) also comes back in a series of flashbacks relating to the hidden world with a very cute young Hiccup.
The film does feel like a fitting end to the trilogy with a very strong and emotional ending. Even though it is not the epic adventure we expected and never quite reach the heights of the previous films, there is a lot to enjoy in this final outing. Plus, can you ever get enough of Toothless soaring through the sky?
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois (written by) , Cressida Cowell (based upon the "How to Train Your Dragon" book series by)
Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, F. Murray Abraham, Gerard Butler
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