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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Movie Review

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Nine years ago, DreamWorks Animation and directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders brought audiences to the island of Berk with its many dragons and Vikings. How to Train Your Dragon was a beautiful story about friendship and DeBlois has managed the task of creating sequels that live up to their predecessors’ quality. With How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, we now have a complete story spanning many years and showing a real growth between Hiccup and his Night Fury Toothless. Each film in this trilogy has done a lovely job of opening up the world and evolving the characters to their natural place. These films are technical triumphs, but it’s the heart that helps in making them truly special.

In the first movie, Hiccup was just trying to find his place in the village. In Dragon 2, he had to make the choice to take the next step as leader. In The Hidden World, he is the leader and trying to be responsible and make all of the right decisions. Hiccup’s journey through the trilogy has been tremendous to watch unfold and his relationship with Toothless is a believable bond. It’s hard to imagine one without the other with how closely they connect and help each other. The dragons that populate these films are remarkable examples of imagination and character design coming together to create something special and Randy Thom’s sound effects deserve to be commended, too.

Another element that makes each film feel unique is the antagonistic force attempting to drive humans and dragons apart. While he may not seem quite as threatening as Drago in the second film, Grimmel makes for a compelling villain in just how much he enjoys hunting the dragons. The depiction of the dragons being rounded up and put into cages, just because of their species has an unsettling quality to it and gives Hiccup just cause for being scared of this man. There is the proper amount of intensity in The Hidden World, but also a lot of beauty. It’s amazing how far the technology leaps with each installment and this is the most stunning Dragon film yet. Everyone on the DreamWorks Animation team has done a tremendous job with bringing this world to life and the characters are more expressive than ever before.

While the first two acts are strong, the third act is when The Hidden World truly becomes something special. The battle sequences are impressively directed by DeBlois, with multiple characters getting their time to shine as Vikings and dragons go head-to-head. The How to Train Your Dragon films have always managed to hit the emotional sweet spot and not been afraid to take risks in their storytelling. The Hidden World is definitely no exception and DeBlois takes Hiccup and Toothless’s story to its natural conclusion. Helping all of this is the beautiful score by John Powell. He has been a major contributor to the series’ success since the beginning and the way he combines newer themes with the trilogy’s trademark compositions is an orchestral wonder.

There is a timeless quality to the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy that will allow it to stand the test of time and live on with future generations. It’s been wonderful to see Hiccup and Toothless’s story over the years with Chris Sanders taking the reigns, bringing Dean DeBlois on board and then having DeBlois take over for the remainder of the series. There aren’t many trilogies one can call consistent in their quality, but these movies definitely succeed in showing the emotional growth and journey of its characters with barely a hitch. Whether souring through the clouds or creating a pacifist link between species, these movies are lovely pieces of art and show the incredible talent on display at DreamWorks Animation.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison