There’s never enough importance given to the strength of a quality ending…
While How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World admittedly feels a couple of years too late it still succeeds in being an emotionally poignant and relevant way to close to the loop on this story and avoid something a little more open ended in hopes of a sequel cash grab.
Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid (America Ferrera), Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together—to the very ends of the Earth—to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.
It’s rare to see an animated picture have the emotional weight and psychological savvy to get out of a story while the getting is good. However, it’s still hard to shake the feeling that How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World arrived a couple of years past its peak.
Writer/Director (and Canada’s own Dean DeBlois) finishes what he started here as this chapter still filled with some goofy fun and great action is certainly taking on much more of an adult tone as Hiccup begins to feel the weight of leadership on his shoulders. Much like in the previous installments, the animation throughout is simply jaw dropping and DeBlois and his team, (with visual consultant Roger Deakins in tow!!!) craft an incredibly expansive world for these characters to get lost in. The narrative follows the right line in being a little more serious at times but never loses the ‘joie de vivre’ that attracted people to this franchise in the first place and the interaction between the dragons and the humans is simply priceless. It all plays out like a relationship between a cat and their owner and it ramps up the adorable factor more then was initially expected as it keeps us bouncing between laughter and some honest to goodness tears as all these characters grow up.
Jay Baruchel has the right tone as Hiccup, still dealing with a young man’s emotions but looking for the necessary way to find the strength that is needed for his people. It’s very much a coming of age story but it never aims to high or idealistic as it maintains the primary theme of just needing to evolve and move on.
Most of the major players are back to provide quality voice work as you’d expect but the weight of it all really does stay with Hiccup and no side stories get that much of a chance to blossom outside of Hiccup and Astrid growing into the leaders of the village. The only fresh face is F. Murray Abraham as our villain Grimmel who actually brings a grounded and menacing vibe to the affair as he shakes our hero to his very core.
The picture and sound on this 4K release are obviously top notch with the colours being incredibly rich and dynamic across the entire spectrum. The special features include 2 DreamWorks Shorts: Bilby & Bird Karma, an alternate opening, deleted scenes, 12 Behind the Scenes featurettes and a feature length commentary track from writer/director Dean DeBlois, Producer Bradford Lewis and Head of Character Animation Simon Otto.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World falls a little short of being a great movie, but it is a very satisfactory one with an ending that is emotionally relevant for every viewer that has been with the franchise since the beginning. Much like Hiccup and Toothless, we’ve all grown up just a little bit.