Having nursed the Shrek franchise to box office success, DreamWorks Animation have also done extremely well with the How to Train Your Dragon series based on Cressida Cowell’s bestselling books. 2019’s The Hidden World is the final part of the trilogy. So how does it compare with its two brilliant predecessors?
The truth is yes and no, but The Hidden World faced an almighty task holding up against the previous entries but still delivers a solid if unspectacular conclusion. The problem lies in that the first and second instalment found that perfect balance for both adults and children, with the second particularly dark and gritty, whilst this movie seems far more interested in aiming squarely at younger viewers. Far more basic, less dramatic weight and a lot more child friendly humour leaves a film easy to admire, but difficult to be invested in.
When Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) finds it first.
One aspect the series has always got right is the strong friendship between Hiccup and Toothless, once again a real delight throughout this escapade. With Toothless’ catlike demeanour, it’s easy for viewers to reminisce from their own experiences with pets and it’s really sweet to watch. What also works is both character’s love interests. Hiccup and Astrid (Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera) are a hugely likeable couple, looking out for one another at every corner whilst trying to deal with the ever-growing pressure from their friends and family to tie the knot. Despite neither muttering a single word, the bond between Toothless and this mystery female Night Fury really is beautiful to behold, their relationship feels human and innocent.
As is the case with most big budget animated movies these days, the animation here is absolutely staggering. Visually breath-taking throughout, every scene is wonderful to witness on the big screen, particularly the airborne dragon sequences. Every cloud, waterfall and grain of sand is as close to life-like as you’re ever going to get with an animated movie.
What the film lacks is an emotional weight. The tension never really amplifies and you never overly feel as if our characters are ever in danger, despite a well created and powerful foe in Grimmel. The ending finishes the series on the high it deserves, but also lacks the sentimental touch I was hoping for. Certainly a satisfying finale and hoorah, but it is no tearjerker like say, Toy Story 3.
This is certainly a fantasy adventure more likely to wow younger viewers than older. If you’re not already a fan of the franchise, then this will not change your opinion, but lovers of the series will get enough excitement and entertainment from a film which concludes a now charming trilogy.
Verdict: Beautiful and sweet but lacking emotional heft, The Hidden World ends the Dragon franchise with a shout rather than a roar.
Best Moment: A fantastic one-shot during the opening scene is creative and enthralling