How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

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Director: Dean DeBlois

Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill

Review Author: Tony

With Toy Story 4’s release, it has relinquished the belt for the best-animated trilogy ever. However, in the wake of this, there have been two worthy contenders in Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon franchises. For me, it’s been an almost unbearable wait for the third entry in this dragon series due in part for my love for the previous two entries and to see if it could usurp the trilogy title from the equally spectacular series, Kung Fu Panda.

One year after Drago Bludvist’s invasion the island of Berk, home to Vikings and dragons, is severely overpopulated and hiccup aspires to find a hidden dragon world his father Stoick used to tell him about as a child. Meanwhile, allies of Drago Bludvist continue their campaign to invade lands and dominate dragons and hire the services of the famed dragon slayer, Grimmel, to hunt Toothless to use as an alpha to lead all dragons. Meanwhile, Toothless and Hiccup stumble upon a Light Fury to their shock as they believed Toothless was the last of his kind. Hiccup faces the task of protecting his clan and the dragons while seeking the hidden dragon world where they can live free once and for all.

Each film has seen a marked improvement regarding animation, and The Hidden World is easily the most colourful and expressive film of the franchise. The series has done a great job of differentiating the designs of each dragon, giving them their own characteristics in both colour and movement. It’s an attention to detail that amusingly has not always applied to the Vikings with many background characters looking like palette swaps. The improvement in animation has allowed for more breathtaking sequences and lush backgrounds. Not only have we seen the story and characters develop but the actual technology that brings them to life.

There has always been a strong emotional resonance in the series from Hiccups and his father trying to connect, to characters overcoming historical conflicts to find unity, to the responsibility of leadership being placed on Hiccups shoulders as he tries to protect his clan and the dragons from the darker side of humans. The Hidden World tells the most mature story to date, as Hiccup must learn what is best for his companion and not just himself. These films have always been about growth, and it’s remarkable how they never thread old water or manufacture conflict that works against its own message.

Despite accurately guessing the ending, it was nevertheless still an emotional gut punch to say goodbye to these wonderful characters we’ve seen grow over the years. This series has always focused on acceptance and approaching what we do not know with an open mind, a tale of overcoming irrational fears to better serve each other. It’s the most visually ambitious film out of the trilogy, and despite a relatively weak villain, the film delivers on a meaningful and uplifting end to the series.

Rating: 4 / 5 Inconsolable crying full-grown adults

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