How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
*** out of five stars
DreamWorks’ trilogy of animated films based off Cressida Cowell’s book series How to Train Your Dragon comes to an end, almost a decade after the first’s release in 2010. How does this latest high-flying adventure compare to its predecessors?
A year after the events of How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) has made the island of Berk a haven for dragons. Things are far from peaceful, however. As Hiccup is coming of age, he is encouraged to marry the valiant Astrid (America Ferrera), even though the pair thinks of themselves as only good friends. As Berk is overpopulated with dragons, Hiccup plots to find the “Hidden World”, an alleged refuge for dragons.
The conniving dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham), however, has targeted Hiccup. Grimmel possesses a white female Fury dragon, nicknamed the “Light Fury”. He intends to use the Light Fury as bait to trap and enslave Hiccup’s beloved Night Fury dragon Toothless. Will Hiccup, Toothless, and the rest of Berk be able to find the Hidden World and outlast Grimmel?
The Hidden World is a film that will mostly appeal to fans of the Dragon franchise. Over the last decade, DreamWorks has used Cowell’s books as the inspiration for not only a film series, but also the TV series DreamWorks Dragons, several short films, a live stage show, theme park attractions and assorted merchandise. It is fitting that viewers who saw the first film as children have grown up alongside Hiccup, Astrid and the other dragon riders.
Much like the sequels to another beloved DreamWorks series, Kung Fu Panda, The Hidden World is less of a great work in and of itself, and more of a reunion with old friends. The film’s charm comes from seeing these characters again and getting a conclusion to their adventures. The stakes in the film are disappointingly low. Grimmel is a charismatic but mostly forgettable villain, and the story beats are rather predictable. One high point, other than nostalgia, are the breathtaking flying sequences, and the locales explored therein.
If you’re a fan of the Dragons world, then this is worth seeing. If you aren’t a fan, this certainly won’t make you one. If you’re interested by this franchise but unfamiliar with it, then go rent the first two movies before checking this one out. The Hidden World is far from the best conclusion to a movie trilogy, but the series as a whole is one of the crown jewels of DreamWorks Animation. One yearns to see what the studio will do in the future. For now, take care and enjoy your flight.