MOVIE: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
STARRING: JAY BARUCHEL; AMERICA FERRERA; GERARD BUTLER; CATE BLANCHETT; F. MURRAY ABRAHAM
DIRECTED BY: DEAN DEBLOIS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
When How to Train Your Dragon arrived in 2010, I don't think anyone could have predicted how fantastic the Dreamworks animated trilogy would be. Following the success of the second installment, How to Train Your Dragon 2, which made AMovieGuy.com's Top 10 Movies of 2014, I had some fears about how Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his viking gang would bring their journey to a close. With a title that is quite a mouthful, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, this final adventure not only sticks the landing, it stands as it's own individual accomplishment. With a lot of love and more dazzling animation, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World captures your heart and soars to new heights.
Following the death of his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) in Dragon 2 (Spoiler!), Hiccup is now leader of the viking people of Berk, with dragon Toothless and girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) at his side, his people living in harmony among the creatures, and rescuing as many flying friends from poachers as possible. Along with Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Tuffnut (Justin Rupple), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Valka (Cate Blanchett), they have created a dragon-viking utopia. A major problem, however, is that there's not enough space on Berk to keep all the dragons safe. Eventually someone will come for them, that someone being the evil dragon slayer Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), a man with a thirst for killing, and an adversary so good, he's quite scary.
A constantly beaten drum for all three Dragon movies has been the visuals, and The Hidden World is no different. It's visually stunning, with zooming closeups, large scale migration patterns of the dragons, and colors so bright it becomes a feast for your eyes. In fact, with the introduction of a female Night Fury dragon, the narrative takes a daring shift from Hiccups challenge of leading his people, to Toothless finding romance in the dragon world. Writer/director Dean DeBlois (who also directed the two previous films) makes this choice with confidence, willing to focus on the dragon romance and it works. He does it by creating beautiful set-pieces, with Toothless and his “Bright Fury” friend soaring above the sky, finding a freedom they had never known before. Who knew dragon romance could melt our hearts?
Along with the animation, there is a fantastic creative team behind The Hidden World. With a wide range of colorful, cuddly, and terrifying dragons; plus a plethora of different viking-land locations, it's hard not to be in awe of the inventive nature of these films. In the third act, the goal becomes for the vikings of Birk to escape from Grimmel and search for a mysterious place that Hiccup's father spoke of long ago. He said it was a world where all dragons lived in peace, and although it may reveal too much, when we arrive to The Hidden World, it's a revelation so gorgeous to look at, one wishes they could visit such a place.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World may not be better than the second film- there are some jokes that land flat, some editing choices that I didn't mind for- but it's certainly a fantastic accomplishment for an animated trilogy. It strives for a Hayo Miyasaki-level of creative animation, building worlds that remind us to protect the world, along with those around us. I was constantly reminded of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings finale Return of The King. A film such as that, whisks us away to a mythical world, and tells us a story about the importance of family. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World flies high in the sky, reminds us about the importance of working together, and being able to let the ones we love find out what lies ahead at the end of the world. The Hidden World is a beautiful stamp on an animated trilogy that will stand the test of time.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady