How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World wraps up the trilogy in a beautiful, emotionally satisfying, if slightly uneven, conclusion. Hiccup and the rest of Berk are set on a new adventure that threatens both the human and dragon populations. With a ruthless new villain, a mythical Hidden World, and a few other twists, the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless, that fans have grown, to love is tested more than ever before.
For those who have grown up with this series, everything that worked about the previous instalments is ever-present here. Hiccup’s relationship with Toothless, Astrid, and the rest of Berk has clearly matured and he inhabits the role of young village chief with a very human combination of confidence and self-doubt. Throughout the film, he is faced with difficult and personal choices that allow the audience to relate to Hiccup’s journey, making the finale that much more emotionally resonant (and reminiscent of that of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King ), maintaining this series’ tradition of not pandering to children, and instead presenting them with serious and real subject matter.
As expected, the animation is fantastic. The action sequences are gorgeous and exciting, while the more personal moments that rely on expressive character design work just as well. All of this is supported by John Powell’s reliably beautiful score (notable tracks include ‘The Hidden World’ and ‘As Long as He’s Safe’).
The voice cast does a fine job once again, although some of the voice actors for the supporting characters feel under-utilised (most notably Cate Blanchett). This is understandable though, as the film’s focus is on Hiccup and his plight, as well as runtime constraints.
The film’s villain, Grimmel the Grisly, while not the point of the film, is well-developed enough to be engaging, with his motivations being much more clearly defined than Drago from the previous film. Ultimately, however, he serves as a device for the film’s main plot, which he does successfully.
The movie’s main flaws lie within the pacing and some of the jokes. While the majority of the humour works as well as it has in the previous instalments, with much of it centred around Toothless and his adorable antics, some of the jokes by the side-characters feel forced, with one running gag working less and less each time it’s used, sometimes diffusing the pace of otherwise affecting and exciting scenes. The movie also doesn’t flow as well as the (perfectly-paced) first instalment — an issue that the second movie also had — making some scene transitions feel choppy and slightly unfocused. In comparison to the rest of the film however, these are nitpicks.
The Hidden World is a beautiful and emotional film that concludes the trilogy on a satisfying high note. While slightly more uneven than the previous instalments, it warrants the series’ inclusion in the discussion for greatest film trilogies of all time.
Image: Universal Pictures International