#REVIEW: “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
It has been a year since Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) reluctantly became the Chief of Berk. He continues in his quest to create a safe haven for captured dragons, but when an assassin named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) appears with the intention of destroying Hiccup’s trusted dragon Toothless, the new Chief must change course in order to save the people of his village and his best friend.
Oh, and there’s a Light Fury now too – and she has Toothless rather smitten.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a spectacular finish to an incredible animated Franchise. It brings together all of the elements children, families and big kids at heart have come to love and admire about the series. The animation is absolutely exquisite and visually splendid. The use of colour is downright stunning. The style and look has remained consistent among all three films (likely thanks to Oscar-winning “Visual Consultant” Roger Deakins), but the smaller visual details have only grown stronger over the course of the past decade. I marveled at the beauty captured on-screen for all 104 minutes of The Hidden World, amazed at how often I found myself attempting to count the individual stubble hairs on Hiccup’s face.
The Voice Work is magnificent as always, with Baruchel’s performance being the obvious highlight. He runs a gamut of emotions here, but has a lot of fun as Hiccup and easily proves just how perfect he has always been in the role. Abraham is also quite good, choosing each word and every inflection as precisely and carefully as possible. It makes for a cold, calculated villain who is just as compelling as he is scary. Supporting turns from America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler (in flashback form) are all well-done, as are smaller turns from Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kit Harington. Interestingly, Kristen Wiig’s character Ruffnut has been expanded on here substantially as has her brother Tuffnut, played rather awkwardly by Justin Ripple (as opposed to TJ Miller). But with the exception of Ferrera, all the Supporting Players are constantly overshadowed by Baruchel and Abraham.
My only real issue – beyond a few too many kid specific laughs – is that the trajectory and pacing of The Hidden World is not nearly as tightly-wound as the previous films. This one still springs into action immediately (an idea I wish other animated films would replicate), but it spends a bit too much time focused on Toothless’ budding romance and not enough on the Film’s overarching themes. And while I know parents will be overjoyed when they find out this Film is not nearly as dark and grim as How to Train Your Dragon 2, I think I would have preferred these lighter elements to not feel so forced and inorganic.
Much like Toy Story 3 before it, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the end of an era for many viewers. The Film’s primary themes of growing up and moving on are ones that many of us can relate to, having taken similar (albeit dragon-less) life journeys since the release of the first film nine years ago. And while The Hidden World may have more faults than its predecessors, it is still a beautifully-made Film, packing one of the most bittersweet finales in recent memory. I cried tears of joy as the Credits began to roll. Here’s hoping I will be lucky enough to share these brilliant films with children of my own someday.
Universal Pictures Canada release HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
on Friday, February 22, 2019.