Love is in the air in this third installment of the How to Train Your Dragon saga. However, as Toothless finds a companion Night Fury, Hiccup must come to terms with being the chief of his village and doing whats best for both mankind and dragon-kind.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is visually stunning in that it allows the audience to immerse themselves in this Viking themed reality. But the story falls a bit short compared to the setting with one dimensional characters and a predictable plot. While entertaining and fun, still, I found myself wanting more.
The story centers around Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) as Berk, the safe haven for dragons, has become over populated and an easy target for dragon poachers. Determined to keep the dragons safe Hiccup sets out to find the “Hidden World,” a place where all dragons are born from. However, a cruel dragon killer named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) is hot on his heels, determined to kill Toothless and collect all of the dragons in his herd.
Much of the film is devoted to Toothless and the mysterious female “Light Fury” whom he meets near Berk. While Hiccup defends his dragon tribe from Grimmel, Toothless becomes more distracted and distant, putting everyone at risk. Ultimately the story of friendship between Hiccup and Toothless comes to a satisfying conclusion, but at the expense of the other characters and plot of the film.
The main villain, Grimmel, is one dimensional and has no real motivation other than to be evil. And the secondary characters such as Astrid (America Ferrera) and and Valka (Cate Blanchett) only serve as potted plants for Hiccup to vent his frustrations toward. There is no character development for anyone else except for Hiccup, which is a detriment to the film. Even the comedic relief of Ruffnut and Snotlout is vapid and annoying.
The highlight of this film comes in flashbacks of Stoic (Gerard Butler) whose scenes steal the film and pull at the heartstrings. When I look back at this film, those scenes will be the ones that stick out. And of course the stunning settings and creatures that Dreamworks has created.
As a whole, this film is a satisfactory conclusion to the franchise, but on it own, it’s the weakest of the three films. While Toothless and his companion dragon are cute to watch as they court one another, that screen time could have been used better to develop a stronger villain and story that would have brought this film to a higher level. As it is now, it’s a moderately okay end to this 14 year franchise.
If you love How To Train Your Dragon, then this film will do just fine. Otherwise, it’s worth the price of admission purely for the artistic sights and sounds. Just maybe turn your brain off before you go in.
About How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Synopsis: Hiccup discovers another Night Fury and seeks out “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia. However, an evil tyrant named Grimmel is also on the search with plans to destroy all of dragon-kind.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell
Stars: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham
Runtime: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes