How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – The BRWC Review

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

The How to Train Your Dragon series has been one of the greatest in modern animation. It is impossible to describe in words how breath-taking all three of the film are. They boast some of the greatest, state-of-the-art animation and eye-popping 3D of any film I have ever seen. To quickly sum up my thoughts on the previous two films, I think they’re both fantastic. The first film I found to be almost perfect and it remains one of the most pleasant surprises of my film-going life.

The second one I like almost as much, but I always thought that it ended about ten minutes later than it should – the battle at the end is inferior to the battle literally just before it. So naturally I was excited to see How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – to a pretty unfair degree. I had the highest hopes, so it was a lot to live up to.

The story this time is that a vicious dragon hunter is coming to Burk. His goal is to kill the last of the nightfurys – which is main character Hiccup’s pet dragon, Toothless. But it won’t stop there, any other dragon is up for the slaughter. The people and dragons of Burk move to find a new home, the Hidden World – a sheltered place where dragons rule and can live in safety. The hunt is on! Complicating matters is the arrival of a female nightfury. Toothless is now in love and Hiccup must face the fact that it may be time for his dragon to move on.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a wonderful film. What we have come to expect from the series is back in full force here. The excellent 3D effects that make the film literally leap off the screen – 3D being something I have little care for outside of a handful of films. The animation is vibrant and beautiful, making you feel as though you are flying through the air with these fantastic beasts. The designs of the dragons are unique and impressive – some beautiful, some cool, some just cute and others terrifying. The music is fantastic. The characters are fun. The comedy hits more than it misses. Director Dean Deblois keeps a steady hand while he excellently crafts a world that will entertain adults and capture the imaginations of children.

Story-wise, the series hasn’t exactly been unpredictable. But it has always felt new. It’s a strange talent that Deblois has, where he takes a tired formula and makes it new and enjoyable again. This film deals with themes of self-doubt and empty next syndrome. We’ve seen it before – a beloved character finds a reason to move on, love as always, and our main character is afraid to let it happen.

Been there, done that. But the plot and theme are so in touch with Hiccup as a character that it all feels organic. Nothing done feels like a betrayal or a breaking of character for anyone in the film. This is helped by performances and animation of course, but we can’t ignore the script either.

One thing that always got me down about the previous films were the villains. In the first, it was just a big dragon – it roared, breathed fire and was a general annoyance. And that was it. The second film had a villain who was so over-the-top that he was too silly to feel like a threat, in both performance and writing. This time though, we have a good villain. He is cold, vicious and cunning. He is also terrifically portrayed by F Murray Abraham – although the Transylvanian accent is a little strange at times. But best of all, he has been bored and this hunt is fun for him. He will not stop or slow down because of how much he enjoys this. He is the perfect villain to send Hiccup and the gang out with.

But I do have my griped here and there. Despite fantastic colours and breathtaking visuals, The Hidden World is easily the most visually ugly of the three. The flying and the titular hidden world look great, but there are extended periods when we are looking at rotten interiors with all the shades of brown and grey out there. I found the misses in comedy to be the most wince-inducing here as well. There also pretty major characters who feel sidelined for the sake of other, far less important or interesting characters. These issues are a shame, but they are far from deal-breakers.

I’m certain that anyone who has seen the other films – that being most people – have probably made time to see this one too. And why shouldn’t they? I am glad that it is over. This is a wonderful place to end the trilogy. It’s better to go out fresh and early than to keep on going until you turn stale. I can give out far too many examples of that happening so I’m not going to bother listing them. It’s another How to Train Your Dragon film – that alone is great reason to see it. It has all the strengths of the others and, while it has new issues of its own, it does sort out issues from before.

It’s better put together than the second one, but it also lacks the emotional heights of it too. Personally, I still prefer the first film. But it truly is a pick your poison deal. Simply put it on and get swept away.

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Callum spends most free days with friends (mostly watching films, to be honest), caring for his dog, writing, more writing and watching films whenever he can find the chance (which is very often).