DreamWorks Animation

For nearly a decade, DreamWorks Animation ruled the industry with what may arguably be their most acclaimed franchise, “How to Train Your Dragon.” Featuring stunning visuals, in-depth world-building and lovable characters, audiences all over the world connected with this epic fantasy like nothing before. Now, the trilogy is coming to a climatic end with “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

The film follows Hiccup who, now chief of his Viking village of Berk, must face a new challenge as the evil-doer who killed all the Night Furies has reared his ugly head to take down Toothless. At the same time, Toothless meets a female Night Fury who he begins to grow a fondness over, leaving Hiccup behind more often. Now Hiccup must figure out what the best decision is, whether it’s to stay and fight, move his beloved home to a mysterious hidden world or say goodbye to his best friend for good.

Like the previous installments, the film looks beautiful, to say the least. The time and craft put into developing this world on a visual level alone is mind-blowing. It seems that as the themes and plots of each entry grow heavier and more complex, the animation must do the same by upping the level of immense detail in the environments and designs — while containing the fantastical flair needed. The effects in the animation and action sequences are the highlights. The look of fire, water, vegetation and even sand are more realistic than ever while the expertly choregraphed action scenes make for some thrilling moments.

The way it ends this trilogy feels spot on for the most part. At this point, it truly does feel like these films have embodied a larger, grand story that, by the end, feels complete. Each of the characters has more presence and receive their own time to shine and develop. In particular, the scenes focusing on Toothless and his mate are the best parts in the movie. The development of their relationship is well-paced and the moments between them are plain adorable. Each of these moments are executed using masterful visual storytelling, allowing the creativity of the animation and dragon behavior take over.

Despite ending this trilogy off very nicely, this entry is probably the weakest installment of the three. This is largely due to the plot ultimately lacking the sense of consequence that the first two had, which make some of the sequence of events harder to invest into. Serious questions, world-building moments and concepts do introduce themselves into the narrative, but they don’t feel explored enough to leave an impact.

The villain, as well, is very weak. Not only are his characteristics reminiscent of the villain from the second film, but his motivations are not fleshed out well enough to make him intriguing. It would have been better if the previous films had hinted or mentioned of this character, especially given his connection to the Night Furies. Alas, this is not the case, so his involvement felt largely out of left field and we don’t get enough time with him to make a connection.

The very ending, without giving much away, does do its job right, but still feels shaky in its execution. Trying to go with a “Toy Story 3”-esque finale, the ending of this series wants its audience to truly feel the connection between the Vikings and their dragons. But the emotional weight gets lost due to a lack of visual storytelling that would’ve helped the emotions sink in further and a very final decision that made the ending feel dragged out.

In the end, this is a mixed bag. There are elements of this film that were outstanding and help make it a nice way of capping off this series, but it takes some steps back in the process that ultimately make the film slightly disappointing. Regardless, it has been a fun ride through the skies of Berk — this won’t be a franchise we will be forgetting anytime soon.

Review overview

Storyline7
Pacing6.5
Acting7.5
Visuals9
Interesting 7.5

Summary

7.5“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” ends this legendary trilogy with plenty of well-intentioned heart and visual brilliance, even if it takes a step back from its previous installments.