How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrara, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Justin Rupple, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kit Harington, F. Murray Abraham
Studio: Universal Pictures
Rated PG | 104 Minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2019
Director Dean DeBlois‘s How To Train Your Dragon films have taken audiences to visually stunning worlds where the skies are filled with dragons and a young Viking named Hiccup, who aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a dragon killer, befriends Toothless, a black night fury. On this journey of self-discovery, Hiccup goes from a clumsy lanky misfit to courageous leader of his tribe. For the past ten years, we’ve seen Hiccup become the hero and leader he was always destined to be. And on this journey, he’s come across choices that would help develop who he is.
But it all comes to an end in this epic, and bittersweet, conclusion. Following what the previous two films have established, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a visually stunning animated feature that ends the franchise on its own terms. Check out the full review here below.
The Hidden World takes place a year after the events of How To Train Your Dragon 2, where Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now leading his group of friends — Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple) — on stealth raids to free captured dragons from a group of Trappers. Having taken over his father’s role as tribal leader, Hiccup has built Berk to be a village where Vikings and dragons can co-exist. However, they are bringing home more freed dragons then the village can handle, so Hiccup believes that if he can find the fabled Hidden World, a place where dragons live and breed, he will be able to find everlasting peace for his people and dragons.
Tired of their constant interference, the trappers hire Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), a dragon killer who is hellbent on killing Toothless, the last of the Night Furies. He weaponizes Hiccup’s empathy towards dragons and manipulates him to make generally bad decisions. During this time, Toothless finds a white Light Fury. While there is an attraction, the Light Fury doesn’t take too kindly to Hiccup. This development forces Hiccup to reevaluate his relationship with Toothless and come to terms with the idea that he might have to let his beloved dragon go.
Throughout the entire trilogy, we have seen Hiccup mature into a qualified leader and a better person. Each and every installment has used some form of tragedy to give him the motivation he needs to develop himself and make his relationship with his friends, family, and dragon stronger. So there’s no doubt that The Hidden World is where the franchise needed to go. He has been able to use his intelligence to craft prosthetics and use his knowledge of dragons to help his tribe forge a better relationship with majestic beasts. Though those close to him believe he is a great leader, Hiccup doesn’t have the confidence that he can live up to his father’s legacy and the tribe’s expectations.
This is put to the test when Grimmel manipulates Hiccup to moving the tribe to another island where he and his fellow trappers can swoop in to capture the freed dragons. Though he is blinded by living in a utopia, Hiccup, despite his best intentions, realizes that he has been putting his needs before the tribe’s or Toothless’. So in reality, the story is so much bigger than protecting tribe and their dragons from the trappers and Grimmel. It’s about the relationships we hold dear and the sacrifices that we have to make in order to make sure that the ones we love are protected, even if that comes at the cost of not seeing them ever again.
There’s no doubt that the film had to end this way. Especially since Hiccup has already proven that his former dragon-despising tribe can peacefully co-exist with dragons. But when Grimmel and those like him come to threaten that, it becomes clear that the franchise needed to go in a different direction. One that makes it painfully aware that such a co-existence can be achieved, but if only we are to put our prejudices and bigotry aside for the greater good.
Within this cinematic achievement is a beautiful lush world full of vibrant colors. Dragons flying on the horizon show how massive the scope is. And when Hiccup and Astrid finally reach the hidden world, it’s luminesce brings out a greater beauty. It’s almost hard not to get lost in what you are seeing. Even more so when watching it on the largest screen possible. Caverns and skies stretch out and let us see how expansive the setting can be while also magnifying just how much more is left to explore.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a bittersweet ending to a magnificent trilogy. Though it is a far more mature and intimate story than its previous two installments, it still retains a lot of that child-like wonder with its gorgeously animated fantastical settings and the humor seen in Hiccup’s relationship with Toothless. It’s almost sad to see it go. And while all good things must come to an end, I am more than happy that it comes to an end this way.