Training an animated dragon after two successful previous films while appeasing the appreciative audience is the easy part. However, reaching the trilogy status while maintaining the whimsical allure of those same predecessor films is another entire story. Hence, writer-director Dean DeBlois does somewhat accomplish this feat for some more warm-hearted breeziness in the third instalment ‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’.
The third time around may be considered a slight charm as ‘The Hidden World‘ does not contain the fire-breathing enthusiasm and spontaneity that was infused into the first two ‘Dragon’ editions. Nevertheless, the infectious spirit and good-nature of this kiddie film franchise still resonates enough to go out on a relatively high note.
The familiar ‘boy and his dragon’ scenario is maintained as Viking warrior leader Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and buddy beast dragon Toothless are back into the fold for more high jinx. As the backstory, fans of this film series are aware that Hiccup and his fellow warriors learned how to co-exist with the mighty dragons as they all established a special bond within their rustic Norse island of Berk surroundings. Still, the reality of Hiccup’s and Toothless’s closeness will be tested when other factors figure into their tight-knit relationship.
Enter Astrid (voiced by America Ferrara). Apparently, Astrid is the new love interest for the smitten Hiccup. The lovey-Viking duo is inseparable and compliments each other’s affectionate vibes so effortlessly. The contrast of the four-legged large lovers Toothless and the milky white-toned Light Fury is a sight to see in comparison. Toothless, the silky-skinned jet black Night Fury wonder and Light Fury are destined for romantic greatness. How will Hiccup cope with the cutesy pairing of Astrid while leading his fellow Viking warriors? Toothless and Light Fury will begin to feel like outsiders when a devilish detractor makes his precarious presence known.
Hiccup’s alienation with keeping the peace in The Hidden World is the least of the pending worries at the moment. The lovestruck dragons must deal with the intrusion of the wicked-minded Grimmel the Grisly (voiced by Oscar- winner F. Murray Abraham). Grimmel, as a dragon trapper, woefully despises Toothless and the species of dragon that he represents. With the streets of dog-like behavior dragons crowding the region, this gives the sinister Grimmel an excuse to eradicate Toothless and his ilk with any diabolical means necessary.
Despite Toothless and Light Fury heading to the mythical Hidden World where the dragons exist in harmony, there is no stopping the dreaded Grimmel from exacting his vengeance on the tank-sized twosome.
‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ marks one of filmdom’s most celebrated and dependable final entries to a resourceful trilogy that has captured the vivid imagination of its avid fans. Undoubtedly playful, smart, perceptive and message-driven DeBlois and all involved stack ‘The Hidden World’ with its share of appeal and bubbly wonderment. Clearly, the movie adaptation has been decent to the Cressida Cowell children book series. So what if ‘The Hidden World’ kind of lost its carefree curveball?
The nuttiness is still inspired. In addition to the main characters Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, Light Fury, and the vile Grimmel the other supporting players are instrumental in the fun-loving shenanigans as well. Superbad alums Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse voice the off-the-wall sidekicks Snotlout and Fishlegs while other notables that range from Craig Ferguson’s Gobble to A-lister Cate Blanchett’s Valka bask in the giddy proceedings.
The performers’ voice work is solid and DeBlois peppers his animated feature with suggestive themes of heroism, diversity, friendship, romanticism, and duplicity. It is a given that the visuals are absolutely stunning.
For the most part, ‘The Hidden World’ is a cozy send-off to the devoted kiddies and oldsters alike that can revel in the commonality that lingers between the sweetness of man and beast. Training is the game but Hiccup and/or Toothless is the treasured name!
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
1 hr. 50 mins.
Starring (the voices of): Jay Baruchel, America Ferrara, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Gerard Butler and Kristen Wiig
Directed and Written by Dean DeBlois
MPAA Rating: PG
Genre: Animation/Action & Adventure/Fantasy
Critic’s Rating: ** 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
(c) Frank Ochieng (2019)