How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Dean DeBlois' How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a likable conclusion to his animated trilogy, which features a mixed bag of storytelling. The Hidden World isn't a bad movie, but far from a memorable one, especially when compared to the likes of the first film. Still, it occasionally tugs at the heartstrings and reminds us of the sweet characters created and enjoyed over the years.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is Dean DeBlois returning once again to the world of dragons and vikings as we follow Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), his dragon Toothless and friends as they do battle with yet another outside force, while also discovering an oasis where dragons can safely live without interference. All if this happens while Hiccup’s own dragon falls in love and starts to contemplate his own life.
Dean DeBlois‘ How to Train Your Dragon series has been a mostly reliable batch of animated films that, at the very least, will put a smile on your face. The original film still holds the most charm and magic of the series, while the sequel brought diminishing returns from a storytelling aspect, yet a third film was all but promised.
With The Hidden World, DeBlois paints a fairly familiar picture of growing up and growing apart, not quite nailing the energy of the first film, but delivering a film that is more than just another sequel.
I’ll admit that I didn’t find myself nearly as attached to The Hidden World as I did the previous two films, but I’ll also admit that the second film didn’t leave that much of a mark on me either.
Still, Hiccup and Astrid’s relationship is fun to watch grow and progress, as is any interaction between Hiccup and his dragon Toothless. There’s an easy-going nature to this series that always feels like they were made with good intentions and from the heart and not just the pocketbook of Dreamworks.
Jay Baruchel voices Hiccup with noticeable signs of maturity and growth. He’s not just a boy anymore, instead leading his people and honoring his late father (voiced by Gerard Butler). His relationship with Astrid (America Ferrera) is nearing the marriage phase and it’s crazy watching the two become adults. I remember when he was goofing off with Toothless in the first film with not a care in the world.
There’s still plenty of goofing off with Toothless. Hiccup and Toothless’ interactions are the bright spots of the film. Watching the two strengthens the film during its weaker moments, especially the whole subplot that involves a dragon killer and them searching for the Hidden World.
Not much comes of that until the end, which is poetic, if not almost too rushed.
I understand what director Dean DeBlois was going for and I respect his craft and ability to bring his characters to a worthy and enjoyable conclusion. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ALMOST shed a half of a very small and unnoticeable tear.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is going to play well towards young children and those looking for a break from the cold weather or their overly busy lives. It’s not going to reinvent your love for animated films or demand to be nominated for any sort of acclaim, but that’s fine, because the film doesn’t feel like something that’s trying to be too overly serious, but instead intimate and small.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a grounded family film about love, about growing and about the future and how we might all be on our own separate paths. It’s about happiness and understanding.
I respect DeBlois for making such a small-scaled film with such a franchise and I can see the film’s cracks as mandated story beats by the studio or even the producers to instill a little more urgency or grandness and that’s honestly where the film falls apart.
I never once cared about this “deadly” dragon killer, because I knew he’d be taken care of and I didn’t have too much focus on the actual Hidden World, because I was more worried about the world that they already live in.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a harmless film that should bring some sort of joy to anyone that views it. I’ll probably forget about it in a few weeks, but I’ll always have the first film and that’s more than enough for me.