In 2010, Dreamworks released a computer-animated film adaptation of Cressida Cowell’s popular series of children’s books. The film not only gained critical and commercial success but also grossed $500 million worldwide. Its 2014 sequel achieved the same acclaim and five years later, the highly anticipated threequel hopes to experience the same.
Taking place one year after the second film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World sees Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) in his new role as chief of Berk. However, hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) intends to capture Toothless, using a female ‘Light’ Fury as bait. In his biggest challenge yet, Hiccup tries to keep Berk safe without risking his friendship with Toothless.
As we come to the end of the How to Train Your Dragon film series, Hiccup has grown up from a naive boy to a tenacious, empathic leader. But when his home is targeted by Grimmel, he understands that Toothless is endangering Berk. This realisation ties in with the increasing threat of merciless dragon hunters, earlier teased by HTTYD2 villain Drago Bludvist, and the fact that dragons may not ready to live among humans.
However, Grimmel comes across as an unoriginal villain as his one-track mind of ‘hunt and kill’ prevents him to shine until the complex action scenes. Overall, supporting characters become nothing more than filler – twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut (Kristen Wiig and Justin Rupple) and Snotlout (Jonah Hill) are comedic hit-and-misses. In addition, Cate Blanchett’s Valka is wasted here, in comparison to her strong performance in HTTYD2.
The key element of the film is the chemistry between Hiccup and Toothless. After eight years, they continue to complement each other and their respective romantic struggles Astrid and the Light Fury are relatable yet charming. The fact that they are also considering separate futures shows maturity and a sense of acceptance that their story is coming to an end.
Despite a few inconsistent bumps along the way, DeBlois delivers a poignant, satisfying conclusion amid stunning animation. Thanks to Hiccup and Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon is Dreamworks’ most endearing film series to date.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is out in UK cinemas on 1 February 2019.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Stars: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, F. Murray Abraham, Gerard Butler
Runtime: 104 minutes