Hiccup and Toothless are back in Dreamworks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” for their third and what appears to be their final movie in this wonderful, colorful and well-conceptualized series.
The previous two movies were feats of Dreamworks, which succeeded in bringing audiences into a new world that featured vast oceans, breathtaking textures and majestic flying sequences. The visuals in this final movie do not disappoint. You can practically feel the brisk salt from the ocean breaking over other waves as you fly with Toothless just inches above the water.
The world-building in this movie is pretty great too, the locations designed show great care and emphasize natural textures. A texture that immediately comes to mind is all of the dragons’ skin. Whether it is the smooth and bright white skin of the light fury or the dark and patched scales on Toothless, an attention to detail tempted me to reach out and touch them.
The antagonist in this movie is a dragon hunter named Grimmel, who is determined to catch and kill all night furies. His character is a bit one-dimensional and does not allow the audience to connect or relate to him or his motives. More recent movies have done a much better job with building villains; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “Avengers: Infinity War” both have great examples of villains which have been elevated to not only work as the main opposition to good but also have realistic and somewhat understandable motives.
While not the most relatable villain ever comprised, Grimmel’s intelligence and relaxed nature seem to add to his cunning and mischievous nature. He always seems to be one step ahead of the heroes and that intelligence should be noted. Some good I will say about Grimmel is that his animation was designed with great care. His small nuances and body language illustrate the improvements animation has made over the last decade.
Hiccup and Toothless — the dream team we all know and love — are back and their relationship is right where we left it. Hiccup is still a part of Toothless and must be there for them to fly as one. But when a counterpart to Toothless called a light fury is thrown into the mix, the dream team is faced with an unstoppable force, change.
Hiccup is voiced by Jay Baruchel (“This is the End,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) and to no surprise he does a phenomenal job voicing his character just as he did in the previous two movies. Baruchel adds a vulnerability and awkwardness to the character that has always made him more relatable and palatable for family audiences.
The action sequences in this movie are a rollercoaster of excitement. There are some instances of flying and chase scenes that work to build on the excitement because the animators were smart enough to emphasize the grandeur of the location. By this I mean that the drastic heights and never-ending ocean added to the harrowing experience instead of being an afterthought. The score was great as well and never overpowered the visuals, they only helped.
If you are a fan of the previous two movies, I would recommend “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” While I would not say it is the best of the three movies, I would describe it as a great goodbye letter to fans while holding its own integrity and keeping its distance from unnecessary fanservice. It stands on its own legs and should be credited for being a great final chapter in such a beloved story.