How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review: An excellent and emotionally satisfying end
Other than Toy Story, it’s hard for me to think of another animated series that has delivered on bringing a consistently emotional story and impactful character relationships other than the How to Train your Dragon series. Since the original came out in 2010, Hiccup and Toothless have brought audiences through a touching and endearing journey about two different species coming together and has gained an incredibly well-deserved following. That’s what makes the series’ latest entry, The Hidden World, so important for fans as it sets to be a strong ending for Hiccup and Toothless while also giving the series a solid finale.
After seeing it, I can confidently say that The Hidden World delivers on everything fans would want in a finale while being a touching and entertaining film in its own right. Now, just to have some transparency, I actually haven’t seen the original two films before The Hidden World. Now I can hear the angry comments already coming my way, for fair reasons, but hear me out for just a second. I am caught up on the story of the first two films and understand character relationships through talking about the films with friends, so I wasn’t totally out of the loop with what was happening in The Hidden World. Honestly, even without seeing the past two films, I could feel how perfect The Hidden World closes out on the journey of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless.
There’s plenty of callbacks to the other films with flashbacks of Hiccup and his father Stoic (Gerard Butler) and it’s pretty hard to not feel a sense of growth from the characters on-screen. I’m actually kind of impressed with the messages of marriage and growing up that it comes with and it parallels quite nicely with both Hiccup and Toothless. For Hiccup, there are plenty of discussions about his relationship with Astrid (America Ferrera) and the two tying the knot for a stronger unity in their group, while Toothless also goes through similar thoughts upon meeting another Night-Fury and realizing that he is not the last of his kind. Themes like this are traditionally seen in many kids films and it’s all told in such a strong level of maturity from its characters that it’s refreshing to see.
Even the group’s feeling with dragons is well-developed and it’s easy to see how their relationships have grown with the species. There are tons of dragons in Berk now and it’s interesting to see how that’s impacted the tribe as a whole with there not really being much room for everyone to coexist. The opening even gives us a glimpse at how this relationship has affected they way they go into combat and how Hiccup’s dragon armor has made its way to the rest of the group. This dependency plays a big factor into the film’s third act as they battle against a notoriously cruel dragon killer known as Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham).
Grimmel is actually a strong part of the movie, for me, as he is a solid villain that never overstays his welcome or takes viewers away from what’s going on with Hiccup and Toothless. It’s great that he doesn’t necessarily have any past issues with the two, but rather he is completing a long-waited quest to destroy all of the Night Furies. There’s no revenge scheme or past storyline to look back on and Grimmel’s appearance feels like more of a random occurrence and favors the more world-building aspects of the series. Not to mention, even with him having a lack of screen-time and personal connection to the film’s heroes, he leaves an intimidating mark on each scene that he’s in and has enough memorable moments thanks to Abraham’s excellent line delivery.
The supporting cast also does a great job with creating funny moments on-screen and leaving a solid mark. Whether its Tuffnut (Justin Rupple) giving Hiccup his own tips on marriage while stroking his fake beard, Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) annoying Grimmel with her talkative personality, or Snotlout (Jonah Hill) trying to flirt with Hiccup’s mom (Cate Blanchett), there will be plenty of moments that will leave you laughing. However, it’s worth noting that I did feel that these supporting characters can feel a little intrusive in scenes where Hiccup is speaking and that their lines were more like an “insert joke here” moment rather than smoothly placed into the conversation.
The Hidden World is also a true finale for the series and ends on a perfect note that fans will undoubtedly love. The film’s strong focus on Hiccup and Toothless letting each other live their own lives is incredibly touching and even for someone who hasn’t been around for past films, I can feel how much the series has built to this conclusion. Clearly, it’s a sad goodbye for Hiccup and Toothless, but writer/director Dean Deblois even gives a small glimpse into each of their futures to give fans a positive and heartfelt ending.
For a series that seems to have not disappointed its fans, The Hidden World continues that trend and leaves fans with warm goodbye. It’s incredibly satisfying to see and made me realize that I’ve been missing out on an incredibly touching series. The How to Train Your Dragon series has always been highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike and The Hidden World shows why.