The closing of a trilogy is always a challenge. Not only are the expectations going to get unrealistically high, but the idea of ending a story while still taking it to bigger and deeper territory is something that often causes these ultimate to flounder. Something which puts How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World in a precarious position as it forms the final part of DreamWorks planned trilogy of movies and leaves it arguably with a very big wing-span to fill.
The first How to Train Your Dragon took the world by surprise with its mature, but still kid-friendly animation movie and the second in the franchise took it to incredible heights of epicness and emotion that few animated movies would ever dare to tread. So, excuse me if I expected the third movie to at least meet that high standard for
Well, no, sadly it doesn’t. However that doesn’t mean this third How to Train Your Dragon is not worth watching. As a story, it does a solid effort in closing out the story of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), his close bond to the dragon Toothless, relationship with Astrid (America Ferrera) and his struggle in being the chieftain of the village of Berk, while saving the dragons from those who see them as the enemy. It’s a solid effort by Dean DeBlois whose script gives the story a satisfying conclusion that is likely to keep fans feeling happy and content with where it ends up. A tough feat for any movie to achieve, but one that this sequel is able to satisfactorily do. Arguably having Deblois writer and direct all three iterations of the franchise has helped with this, but credit remains to DeBlois for closing it out the way he has.
What the film sacrifices for this though is a lack of any grandiosity or epic moments. Part of what made the first two movies so powerful was that the characters felt massive consequences of their actions that often affected the lives of others. And while this sequel tries to go bigger than the other movies have ever gone in terms of setting up some climatic battles, you just don’t get the same sense of dread or repercussions from their actions that the previous films offered. It’s entertaining and fun, but just not at the same high standards that we’ve come to expect of the franchise.
Though if there is one person who didn’t get that particular memo, it’s John Powell who crafts a beautiful score for this movie. While it continues the many themes already introduced in the other films it takes a whole much grander level here and the score really does contribute so much to the different scenes and adds a lot more emotion to them.
Technically, as an animated movie, it is hard to fault. The animation quality remains exceptional and you can understand why the studios have taken so long in bringing the sequel to life. Whether its bright scenes or darker ones (and there are a lot more scenes at night this time) the detail remains high and DeBlois (who also directs) does a solid job in making the ocassionally vast scenes filled with lots of different dragons comprehensible and purposeful. It’s not easy balancing so many characters on the screen at the same time, but he does a superb job here.
The voice actors (including Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kit Harrington, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig and Gerard Butler) are all now deeply familiar with their characters and bring a level of familiarity and depth to their roles. Especially in some of the subtleties of their dialogue. Perhaps more emphasis has been placed on comedy this time round, but apart from a few scenes involving Toothless trying to woo another dragon, they’re not too slapstick, but quite witty and require you to pay attention to the details of what the character is saying to often get it.
All of this makes the movie incredibly entertaining and even if it doesn’t live up to the highs of the franchises first two films, it should still provide solid entertainment for the entire family. In fact, its lighter mood will probably make this the most appealing and fun for the kids to watch and I would expect this movie to be yet another hit with cinema audiences.
As much as I can complain that How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World is the poorest entry in the franchise, it’s a franchise that has consisted of such a high quality that this movie is still one of the better animated movies you could end up watching this year.
Last Updated: January 29, 2019