Image courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks’ third and final entry of the “How to Train Your Dragon” series is a short and sweet send-off for heroes Hiccup and Toothless, keeping the theme of loss and acceptance strong after three films.
“The Hidden World” picks up one year after the defeat of the previous film’s dragon-capturing villain Drago, and the dragon-riders of Berk continue to live peacefully alongside their titular companions.
Hiccup, the boy who started it all by befriending his dragon—Toothless—instead of slaying him, struggles to fill the shoes left by his deceased father, Stoick. As the new leader of Berk, it is Hiccup’s duty to protect not only its people, but its giant flock of dragons, too.
The dragons of the “How to Train Your Dragon” series have been colorful and interesting since the first film and they continue to stoke the imagination in its third entry. They come in all shapes and sizes, varying from stout and wide, to long and serpentine.
One of the major plot points of the film is the introduction of a female “Night Fury,” the same species Hiccup’s dragon Toothless belongs to. Toothless is quickly enamored with her.
The innocent and cute courtship between Toothless and a female of his species is both smile-inducing and creative.
However, as the film’s villain, famed dragonhunter Grimmel quotes, “You are nothing without your dragon,”—the film rides on the backs of its dragons. And without them, it’s boring.
The characters never feel endangered despite being put in dangerous situations. No matter how deadly the dragon, or how nefarious the villain, Hiccup and his pals escape the clutches of evil and thwart dastardly plans.
Even for a family movie, the action sequences feel pointless as a group of six teenagers defeat wave after wave of savage poachers and raiders.
“The Hidden World” features not one but five comic relief characters—even for a family-friendly animated film, it’s too much. Hiccup’s ragtag group of dragon-riding friends are mostly incompetent and questionably chosen to defend an entire society of large, bearded Norsemen.
Despite some annoying characters, the film has its moments: The flying sequences, the action scenes and the scenery are all noteworthy and what make the series worth watching.
What’s best about the film is watching Hiccup grow as a character, not just alone but alongside Toothless and Astrid—the latter coming into her role as his wife-to-be.
The film’s strength is its continued theme of accepting loss. In the first film, Hiccup loses his leg; this is tragic and very heavy for a children’s film. In the second film, Hiccup loses his father and this is equally disheartening.
Yet he perseveres.
In “The Hidden World” Hiccup comes face-to-face with the possibility of losing his dragon and shows great maturity in accepting the fact—a wonderful lesson for children watching the film.
Series fans and families will enjoy the crisp, and beautiful animation work, colorful and awe-inspiring dragons and seeing their favorite, feline-esque “Night Fury” Toothless soaring through the clouds. But this film’s a bit toothless and lacks the bite that a trilogy finale deserves.