How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World concludes a strong animated trilogy which began all the way back in 2010, meaning that the series is old enough I can say I grew up with it. While Hidden World is likely the least of the three films, there is still much to enjoy.
Hiccup has become chief of Berk, a refuge for dragons slighted by the world. When an old dragon hunter resurfaces after being hired by a group of warlords, Hiccup must search for the mythical Hidden World his father had spoken of in order to keep the dragons and his people safe.
How to Train Your Dragon first and foremost is full of dazzling animation. The dragons are as brightly colored and lively as ever, and when we first enter the “Hidden World”, it’s a visual wonder. Meanwhile, the film is clever in its use of color to manipulate tone. When the villains are on screen, the film chooses to go for a bleaker shade of hues, with dark orange skies and gray clouds. The depressed backdrop symbolizes the cold intentions of the dragon hunters and achieves the villainous tone the film is aiming for during their presence. The juxtaposition of color between Berk, home of the dragons, and where the rest of humanity are, not only creates the feeling of being outsiders for the dragons, but also for the people of Berk. The scenes containing the interactions between Toothless and the newly introduced “lightfury”, were equally impressive visually.
Another area where the film is smart, is in its development of the relationship between Toothless and the lightfury. Hiccup and Toothless have always shared a connection to one another because they see themselves in each other. And much like Hiccup’s relationship with Astrid developed in the first film, Toothless goes through a similar arc. He begins self-conscious and fails to be noticed despite desperately wanting to be, and at the right moment is able to prove himself and from that point on you know how the story goes. Fast-forwarding to the final moments of the film, the foundation of Hiccup and Toothless’ friendship is once again echoed as they set off on parallel, yet separate paths. Hidden World brings the heart-warming relationship between Toothless and Hiccup full circle and concludes the trilogy in a satisfying way.
One of the elements that always separated the How to Train Your Dragon series from other recent animated films, was its sense of danger. In the first film, Hiccup loses his leg and in the second his father. The films did not threaten serious consequences, they actually served them. However, in Hidden World, this ends up not the case and for a finale that is surprising. I wish the antagonist, Grimmel, the dragon hunter, was more fleshed out and was less one dimensional. Then, he may have been able to do more harm and the action sequences of the film could’ve been more compelling.
How to Train Your Dragon 3 does great work as the ending to the series, and fans of the franchise will surely love it. 8/10.