After Berk is put in danger, chief Hiccup and Toothless must leave their hometown and embark on a journey to search for “The Hidden World”, a fabled dragon utopia.
For a long time DreamWorks Animation was generally regarded as the slightly inferior version of Pixar – despite having won the first ever Academy Award fir Best Animated Feature with Shrek in 2001 and being nominated many times after- basing most of its humor on cultural references, easy jokes and popular actors.
They also drew criticism for the “DreamWorks smirk“, being a sign of their lack of originality. Thankfully, 2010 saw the release of “How to Train your Dragon” (“smirk” free), a heartfelt story of a young viking boy encountering and befriending a dragon.
It received the highest RottenTomatoes score to date for DreamWorks Animation (98%), one Academy Award nomination – losing to Toy Story 3 – and a gross of $500 million dollars.
Now, almost a decade and two sequels later – along with a television series, short films, video games and an Arena show – “How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World” presents the final chapter in the saga of Hiccup and Toothless, men and dragons.
“Dragon” is one of the rare series that understood the benefit of maturing alongside it’s core audience, with the third film continuing the rich emotional tapestry of Hiccup and Toothless’s journey with the former having to deal with becoming a grown up as well as the chief and leader of Berk while trying to do right by his friend and the whole dragon community.
For Toothless, he finds himself torn with having to follow his own nature,the possibility of becoming a leader for his kind while falling in love with his desire to stay by Hiccup’s side.
Despite this, “The Hidden World” never forgets it’s sense of adventure, fun and excitement, with some stellar action sequences supporting the heavier elements and plenty of comedy to alleviate the drama.
The returning voice cast of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler (in a very small role) remain excellent, joined by an exquisitely Evil (with a capital E) turn from F. Murray Abraham as the villainous dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly.
Since the original was first released 9 years ago, animation has made leaps forward, with “The Hidden World” once again presenting outstanding, painstakingly beautiful details. Everything from the subtle stubble seen on Hiccup’s face to hundreds if not thousands of dragons taking up the screen soaring through the bright, colorful and ethereal Hidden World.
John Powell also deserves special mention, returning as composer for the third time, providing another rousing, heroic and adventurous score blending the Academy Award nominated themes from previous films with a couple of standout and emotional new themes for The Hidden World.
The “How to Train your Dragon” films not only provide the best work delivered by DreamWorks Animation, but perhaps among the finest animated films to date. Although it’s bittersweet to know that we’ve reached the end of this journey – and I’m positive that by the end there won’t be many throats free of lumps or eyes free of tears -, it’s blow is softened by having them go out with a bang.
“How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” brings one of the best franchises and trilogies from the last decade full circle with a beautifully crafted, visually dazzling and emotionally satisfying endings.