Review - 'How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World'
Now that is how you end a trilogy! I had little doubt in my mind that the third entry in the acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon series would be good, but there was still a lingering skepticism that it would fly as high as the previous two. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to have my doubts swept aside as this beautiful and emotional third film came to a close.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World takes place a little over a year after the second film and Hiccup and friends are trying to improve their teamwork and take down dragon trappers around Berk. An old enemy rears his head who has designs on extinguishing all night furies and he has an ace in his sleeve: a light fury to bait Toothless with. Foreseeing a future where dragons lives are threatened, Hiccup decides that everyone must move to a safe sanctuary of dragons known as the hidden world.
I love the first two How to Train Your Dragon films with a fierce passion, and I will now add the third film to that list. Dean DeBlois, director of all three films has managed to tell a mature and heartfelt story about love, loss and growth and his consistency at hitting the mark each time is, quite frankly, astonishing. Each film has made me cry tears of joy and sadness and have reinforced important life lessons that are relevant to all people young and old. The Hidden World takes the baton and runs with it and in the process adds another element to distinguish itself from the pack. This film is about learning to let go of the ones you love when you realize that you are holding them back from something greater. If you have a sensitive heart, bittersweet tears will be shed.
The film is also very much about the courtship between Toothless the Night Fury and the newly discovered Light Fury, which is the female version of Toothless’ rare species of dragon. This budding romance occupies most of the second act of the film and DeBlois intelligently displays a surface-level story of love while also planting a seed as to what may happen in the future. The entire mid-section of the film is equal parts a joyous experience and a melancholy one because deep down you are starting to piece together what this means for Toothless and his relationship with Hiccup.
The final act is comprised mostly of the typical epic action fare you’ve come to expect from the series, save for the last five or so minutes. The final moments of The Hidden World serve as a cathartic gut-punch that I knew was coming but didn’t know how hard it would be to swallow until I was face-to-face with it. It’s not a depressing ending by any stretch, in fact, it’s a very positive one, but it forces you to deal with things that you don’t normally expect to deal with in a family film.
The entire cast is back for this final installment. Jay Baruchel, who in interviews seems to have grown very fond of his character, Hiccup, turns in his best voice performance yet and really seems like he has grown with the character. America Ferrera is also great and has more to work with for Astrid, a character who has matured over the years. Her once antagonistic spunky attitude has been shed and in its place she has learned wisdom and kindness while still being an assertive and strong leader figure. The only real criticism I can lobby at the film is that it really doesn’t know what to do with the rest of the cast, granted, none of them are meant to be significant players in the story, but still, most of them seem remarkably superfluous to the story.
Technically speaking, this film is a marvel. The animation is some of the best, most-detailed and colorful I’ve yet seen, and it only makes me wish that Dreamworks Animation would reach for the stars more often instead of settling for Trolls and Boss Babies. The music by John Powell is also as stellar as it has ever been.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a fun, emotional and overall important film for the whole family to enjoy. Dean DeBlois and co. have created a trilogy for the ages and accomplished a near-impossible feat by bringing this series to a satisfying and heartfelt conclusion.