Thursday 3 January 2019

Film Review: How To Train Your Dragon - The Hidden World

Saddle up with Hiccup, Toothless and the gang for one final time in How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

One year on from the second film, The Hidden World sees Berk, the island home of Hiccup's (Jay Baruchel) Viking tribe, swarming with dragons. Saving every dragon in sight means the small village is overrun with them; the only solution, according to Hiccup (now chief of the tribe), is to follow a series of maps left by his father (Gerard Butler) to a mysterious hidden world where dragons can leave in peace, without fear of being hunted or killed by the likes of Grimmel (F Murray Abraham), a proficient mercenary with a penchant for executing Night Fury's like Toothless.

Sequels can be tricky, but threequels are often even trickier. Only a handful of series' – Toy Story, Lord of the Rings, the original Star Wars trilogy – have actually stuck the landing when it comes to resolving a trilogy in a manner that works. Dreamworks' How To Train Your Dragon series wooed critics and audiences alike with two gorgeous, touching family films in 2010 and 2014 respectively – so how does the third and final entry stack up?

Well, it's not quite in the same league as the trilogies I mentioned above. This isn't a soaring success akin to Return of the Jedi or Return of the King – it just falls a smidge short of living up to its predecessors.

That said, The Hidden World does bring the series to a close in fitting fashion, with all the gorgeous animation, wacky action and loveable characters we've come to expect. John Powell's score is another soaring success, and the voice acting is great too. The only hitch is the story, which lacks the joyful discovery and compelling coming-of-age elements the first two movies possessed.

While the cute courtship between Toothless and the bright, white 'Light Fury' is fun and full of visual humour and storytelling, it does drag. If you like the sound of two dragons making doe eyes at each other for 100 minutes, you're in luck.

With a fairly large cast, there are a couple of characters – notably Eret (Kit Harington) and Valka (Cate Blanchett) – who were once important and are now backgrounded. I also found some of the jokes – especially one involving TJ Miller's character Tuffnut – repetitive or just plain irritating. That might be more of a recurring thing with TJ Miller though...

These are fairly minor quibbles though. The first two movies did set the bar very high, and it's not like The Hidden World completely shits the bed like other threequels (*cough* Shrek the Third *cough*). It follows a fairly expected template for adults, but no doubt children will lap up the cute love story at the core of the film or the goofy banter that the characters share. Perfect summer holiday fodder.

The Verdict: 7/10

Awash with all the visual splendour you'd expect from the How To Train Your Dragon series, The Hidden World meanders its way to a touching finale and an epilogue that will bring you to tears. A strong if uneven finish to Dreamworks' best series.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is in cinemas from today.


  1. I never thought I would see this phrase 'shit the bed' in a review for a How to Train Your Dragon movie - haha! I'm glad to hear this isn't the trainwreck it could have been, though :)

  2. I love this series and I'm really looking forward to this. I've adjusted my expectations though, I loved the 2nd one so much that I would be surprised if I liked this one more in the first place.

    Jealous you got to see it already!



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