How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World movie review — Most kid-friendly instalment of the trilogy
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is primarily about Hiccup which is great from a storytelling focal point but it loses the element of surprise because in a family movie such as this it is easy to guess what our hero’s journey would be.
castJay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, F. Murray Abraham.
The How to Train Your Dragon films have consistently delivered wholesome emotions with eye popping animation; the third film in the series titled The Hidden World renders more of the same kind of fun, making it the rare trilogy closer that isn’t a snore fest.
Although The Hidden World arrives five years after the previous film, the events are set only a year later. Taking over from his dad, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now leading the island of Berk, where humans and rescued dragons stay together. So many dragons have been rescued, that the island can’t sustain them, so Hiccup drums up a plan to discover the titular hidden world where dragons are supposed to dwell. Things don’t go according to plan when Hiccup’s quest is marred by Grimmel (F Murray Abraham), a nefarious dragon hunter who is determined to take down Hiccup’s dragon friend Night Fury.
What works is how constantly bouncy the film is – there isn’t a moment of boredom and there is always something funny or visually spectacular unfolding on the screen. This is the most kid-friendly instalment of the trilogy, which may upset those who loved the emotional resonance that the first film provided, but everything is just so charming and delightful it’s easy to simply sit back and enjoy the breezy entertainment the film offers. The dragons are once again wonderfully designed, and the sheer size of their ‘flock’ is awesome to watch on the big screen, particularly when the hidden world is introduced. The villain, even though a bit tropey is a fun character to watch, he has just enough menace to scare kids but is also involved in some goofy moments, particularly one where he deals with the overtly talkative Justin (Kristen Wiig).
There is also the theme of letting go, which is handled quite tastefully, and there is of course the undercurrent of social commentary of what the dragons represent in our real world. Writer-director Dean DeBlois doesn’t delve too deep but he does have the deft touch of sensitivity and not making heavy stuff like this seem like a life lesson being slapped on young audiences’ faces. He also does a good job of filling the emotional gaps with soaring action set pieces and the blossoming friendship between Night Fury and another dragon, the details of which are best left for you to discover.
A major theme that the film misses out on is the dynamic between Hiccup and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) – this was built up in the first movie but Astrid’s character has been curiously sidelined through subsequent films, which is a bummer considering how interesting she is. The film is primarily about Hiccup which is great from a storytelling focal point but it loses the element of surprise because in a family movie such as this it is easy to guess what our hero’s journey would be. Hiccup’s mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) who was built up as a big twist in the second film also doesn’t contribute anything to the plot apart from a cool character design. A little tightening of these screws would have made the film a truly classic series closer, for now it’s merely a fun one.
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