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‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Review: A Wonderful Goodbye

Photo: Dreamworks/Universal

I think I can say this with confidence. How To Train Your Dragon is one of my favourite animated films of all time, and it will be for a very very long time.

When a third film was confirmed, I think everyone can back me up here, our hearts filled with absolute dread as we pondered how the trilogy would end. Would it end happily? could the rumors of a world without dragons be true? what on earth will happen to Hiccup and Toothless? it was all too much to comprehend.

After watching How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World in cinema, I walked out with mixed feelings of both happiness and sadness, and, honestly, I felt a sense of fulfillment. The finale film of what has been a beautiful and thoughtful series, delivers a wholesome ending that is sure to please every dragon fan.

Before I jump into my review, here is just a short synopsis of the film itself. I would highly recommend watching the first 2 and then going to the cinema to see the third. While it’s not a necessity, I would also bring tissues.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World takes places a year or so after the events of the second film which saw Hiccup becoming Berk’s chief and the adorable Nightfury, Toothless, becoming the Alpha dragon. Berk has become a beautiful utopia for both humans and dragons, although it seems there is a slight population problem. Trouble arises in Berk when a dragon hunter called Grimmel discovers the existence of Toothless, the last Night Fury. Things become more complicated when a “Light Fury” appears and steals Toothless’s heart. With the people of Berk and the many dragons in danger and Toothless’s new found love, Hiccup must decide what has to be done to protect both his dragons and his people as the enemy lurks behind them while constantly ahead of them.

Image via Dreamworks

When looking back at the first two movies, the focus was very much on the idea that dragons are terrible creatures and the main characters are tasked with changing this perception of them. With this already established, the final film actually shifts the focus and makes us ask what is best for the person we care about. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is an example of a film that illustrates the true value of love and friendship and the struggle to move beyond selfish desires. We have watched Hiccup and Toothless battle enormous dragons and change the very foundation of viking life on Berk, but this film really challenges them on an emotional scale and it contributes massively towards the tear-jerking conclusion that ties everything up very nicely as we say goodbye to our favourite dragons and vikings.

The most impressive thing about this film is its animation. My god, it is stunning. The fluidity and the attention to detail on the scenery, particularly the clouds, and of course both dragons and human characters really makes it stand out. Some of the new dragons, while there aren’t many, are very impressive, especially Grimmel’s pets which seem more like a hybrid between a dragon and a scorpion. Easily one of the best dragon designs in the trilogy, probably second to the Night Fury which you just can’t beat. With each installment, the animation only improves and there are certain scenes that just love to show off. I sat in awe. Whether it was the movement of sand particles, or the dancing of static lightning, the detail was just insane. It’s bright, colorful, and mesmerizing.

The Hidden World includes many wonderful throwbacks to the first film which makes it even sadder. While I won’t give anything away it’s amazing how pivotal the ‘Forbidden Friendship’ scene from the first film is in the final installment. It’s easily my favourite scene in the entire first film and you can see mirror images constantly throughout The Hidden World. The entire film seems to rely heavily on mirror imagery, and that is not a criticism in any way, it indicates the thoughtful process that went into making this conclusion and the idea of bringing it to a full circle. We can see similarities between Toothless’ relationship with the Light Fury and Hiccup’s relationship with Astrid in the first film, and there is definitely a strong emphasis on Astrid’s first flight and even the test flight. Any die hard fans are sure to spot more throwbacks.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a review from me if I didn’t discuss the music. John Powell delivers a beautiful score that elevates the film. With a mixture of new tracks and beloved tracks from the first film, John’s score packs a hard punch, particularly towards the ends, but when the action kicks off and we visit the Hidden World, John really provides an epic soundtrack that evokes a whirlwind of emotions.

Photo: Dreamworks/Universal

Now, no matter how hard they tried, no sequel will ever beat the magic that is the first How To Train Your Dragon. However, the third installment really offers a bittersweet conclusion that is fun, exciting, and saddening. What I believe holds the film back are just personal preferences. I would have loved to have seen more unique dragons up close, and certain characters fates are left unknown, even Drago from How To Train Your Dragon 2. In addition to that, I also felt there were a few narrative issues in relation to Ruffnut. Minor issues. None that distracted me from the overall experience.

I am sure that every fan will be satisfied with the ending. Now all we have to do is pray no one decides to do a 4th. As much as I will miss Toothless and the gang, the ending was just too perfect. Nothing else can be done now. While the trilogy is by no means flawless, I have enjoyed every single film. How To Train Your Dragon is a lovely reminder that animated films are for everyone. I saw adults crying, I saw kids crying, but I also saw the excitement and joy created by these movies. I guarantee that every person who walked out of the cinema secretly wishes they had their own Toothless- I’ll have to made do with two Yorkshire Terriers.

Did you love How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World? Let us know in the comments below.