The fantasy setting of the How To Train Your Dragon series comes to a close with “The Hidden World,” a satisfying end to this solid trilogy of animated films. Not only does it leave child and adult viewers engrossed and laughing, it packs a weighty emotional punch in its final minutes that might prove it to be the best of the series.
It’s hard to believe this franchise began back in 2010, so the kids who have followed it grew up along with its protagonist Hiccup, and his titular dragon, Toothless. They are always a solid pair, so when the story separates them it throws the audience for a great loop to defy expectations.
Hiccup continues his romance with his longtime partner Astrid, but it’s Toothless’ blossoming crush on the newly discovered Light Fury that takes center stage in this installment. It is the inspiration behind both heartwarming scenes, and hilarious scenes of the two dragons silently courting each other with their actions and expressions rather than words.
Toothless was always my favorite character in these films, and that cuteness is turned up to eleven in this installment. I don’t know why it’s so funny when giant ferocious animals in movies behave like playful dogs or cats, but it gets me laughing every time.
The animation quality made a jump from the first in the series to the second, and that jump is replicated here. This film looks spectacular, from the minute details on Hiccup’s face to the individual scales on the dragons. Every rendered environment, from the sand on the beaches, to the crashing waves of the ocean, to the green ferns of the forest almost look like a live action movie, it’s that well done. This is the first of the series I’ve seen on a theater screen, and it is breathtaking to look at.
There’s a great sense of progression in the story; characters have grown up and changed, Hiccup is noticeably more mature as a leader of the vikings. This makes it more than a typical kid’s movie romp filled with low brow humor and nonsensical stories. It has a passionate team behind it that’s stayed together through the whole trilogy, and it gives this particular send off more significance.
It’s funny, a dazzle to the eyes, and a thrill to see on the big screen. This is a suitable cap to a tight trilogy where each film has its own identity and story to tell. Get swept up in this tale and go soaring among the clouds on the back of Toothless one last time, it’s an adventure to remember.