By Adam Brannon
Film Reviewer from Movie Metropolis for What’s On Hub
2010’s How to Train Your Dragon and its 2014 sequel have become two of the greatest animated films of all time, if not two of the most underrated. While never matching the success of movies from the likes of Pixar and Illumination, the two Dragon movies boasted some of the finest animation and script-writing seen in the genre.
Dreamworks promised us a trilogy and that is what we’ve got. After four years in development, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World rounds off the story of Hiccup and Toothless. But does it suffer from the usual case of threequel-itis or do we have one of the all-time great trilogies on our hands?
Set a year after its predecessor, chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid (American 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.
In typical Dragon series fashion, the animation is absolutely superb and on a level anything Pixar has brought to the table over the last few years. With glorious colour and those trademark stunning aerial sequences, the film is dripping in detail, even more so than its predecessors.
All your favourite characters are present and correct and the voice actors performing their roles really get stuck into the individuals they are trying to portray. Jay Baruchel is fabulous as Hiccup. We’ve watched his character grow over the course of the three films and I feel fans and newcomers alike with enjoy seeing his story arc come to an epic conclusion. Even Cate Blanchett’s wandering accent, a distraction in the second film, doesn’t come off too bizarre this time around.
Speaking of story arcs, perhaps the main one here is that of Toothless. More adorable than ever, seeing this character go back to his ‘animalistic’ roots is a pure joy, especially when his equally cute girlfriend is in the picture and when the two of them bring the audience to the titular hidden world, the screen comes alive with colour.
Of course, all good heroes need a menacing villain and The Hidden World brings just that. F. Murray Abraham’s Grimmel the Grisly is a fearsome foe, evoking Disney levels of malevolence. His plot is as devious as it is wicked and he proves a good antagonist for this last chapter in the series.
This new, darker villain brings with it a much darker film than both the first and second instalments that may prove a little too alarming for younger children. Thankfully, this is offset by a script that is written incredibly tightly. The humour is spot-on and relentless; this is a very funny film indeed. As with any trilogy, there needs to be some emotional heft and while it’s difficult to top the sadness of its predecessor, The Hidden World still packs an emotional punch, especially towards the films climax.
The reason why this world can arouse such emotions is simply because you feel invested thoroughly in the characters, animal or human and this is something only the very best scriptwriters can conjure. While not hitting the same levels of Up and Wall-E, this series has become renowned for its credible writing as well as its magnificent animation and voicework.
Then we have John Powell’s outstanding score. A feature of all three films, Powell has outdone himself here with a euphoric soundtrack that compliments the picture perfectly. The theme we all know and love is present and correct, but there’s so much more this time to enjoy.
Overall, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World rounds out a series that has taught us that animated films can absolutely be enjoyed by everyone, not just the young. There’s something for all ages to enjoy and because of The Hidden World’sbrilliance, this franchise will go down in history as one of the great trilogies of our time.
Our score: ★★★★★
Watch if you liked: How to Train Your Dragon, Pete’s Dragon, The Lion King, Jungle Book.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is showing now at Odeon Luxe Cinema, Hull