How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review

Toothless and Hiccup have been on one long and eventful journey since How To Train Your Dragon soared high and proud into theaters in 2010. Ever since then, the franchise has taken its fans on a fantastic ride, with How To Train Your Dragon 2, and the Dreamworks Dragons pushing the series along its path of growth and depth to where we are today. Unfortunately, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is where we are set to part with this world that we know and love. It’s not all bad news though, as it’s with an ending that goes above and beyond to close things out in the best way possible.

As Berk’s new chief, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is expected to grow up a lot faster than he was expecting. With the pressures of the village, the expectation of marriage between him and Astrid (America Ferrera), and the continued threat of dragon trappers raging in the outside world, it’s not exactly the high flying adventure he and Toothless want out of life. But when a new and powerful foe (F. Murray Abraham) rears its head, and the newly introduced Light Fury comes into play, Hiccup and his loyal friend will find themselves facing their greatest challenge.

When it comes to a series capper such as How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, it’s supposed to do two very important things. Not only is a trilogy ending film supposed to close the story out in a full and effective manner, but it’s also supposed to introduce something new and exciting to raise the stakes and entertain the fans. Writer / director Dean DeBlois knows this, as he famously went through two drafts before landing on the one that eventually became The Hidden World. That time and scrutiny paid off, as DeBlois landed on a top notch story that accomplishes both fronts, and does so without forgetting where it has come from as a franchise.

Even better is the fact that Grimmel, the new villain in How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, is probably the best baddie the series has ever had. F. Murray Abraham’s performance is exactly what you’d expect from a thespian of his caliber, and the fact that his character is the ultimate foil to Jay Baruchel’s Hiccup is perfectly stated without going overboard in its execution. He is the menace we need, but he doesn’t override the entire film with histrionics or cartoon villainy.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom, as How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World still has to work with the characters it’s always focused most of its energy on: Hiccup and Toothless. The effects their journey has had on their characters is just as poignant as it always has been, with Jay Baruchel sending off his beloved character with a bittersweet performance. His attachment to both his protagonist, and his on-screen companion, has always been an authentic connection, and it’s one that gladly does not falter in this final chapter. While all involved in the cast, newcomer or veteran, play their parts to a fantastic degree, it’s always been that kernel of truth that’s kept this universe so tightly knit, and it’s beautiful to see it still as strong as ever.

Fans of the How To Train Your Dragon franchise couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying sequel, as The Hidden World brings this family epic to an emotionally gorgeous close. This is the ultimate reward for all who invested in the series’ arc, and have been enthralled with the story that Cressida Cowell’s novels have inspired. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, much like its predecessors, makes you forget the fact that it’s an “animated film” very easily.

For a series that’s never taken a shortcut, and always remembered to hit the right emotional beats without being manipulative, this grand finale does not break from tradition. The action is still thrilling, the laughs are still heartwarming and a bit cheeky, and when all is said and done, you are going to cry. How To Train Your Dragon will be sorely missed, as it’s the crown jewel square at the center of the Dreamworks Animation crown.

9 / 10 stars

Rating: movie reviewed rating

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