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– by Fox Troilo

 

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the (supposedly) conclusive chapter chronicling the friendship between young Viking chief Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless. Since the events of How To Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup and his team of fellow dragon riders have been saving the creatures all across the land from captivity. His actions have caught the attention of Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), a mysterious hunter who seeks to either eradicate or control the dragons for his own personal gain. With Hiccup’s people and their dragons come under enormous threat from Grimmel’s forces they leave their home in search of the Hidden World, a rumored utopia long forgotten.

What works in The Hidden World is the ambiance and heart. The third entry in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise is an absolute delight for the senses. Composer John Powell returns once again to deliver a memorably evocative score befitting of the film’s ride through suspense, love, action, and wonder. Additionally, the animation is downright stunning thanks to the incredible design and the use of color. In particular, the sequence of discovering the Hidden World leverages bioluminescent effects to create dazzling imagery as dragons of all shapes and sizes soar majestically through caves and around towering waterfalls.

RELATED: How To Train Your Dragon 3 Early Reviews Hit: A Worthy Conclusion

The How To Train Your Dragon films have explored many themes throughout the series including diversity, family, respect, and honor. The Hidden World is no exception as it takes a look into the meaning of friendship, growth, and dependency. Whether it’s due to other family films being recently released that have also touched on these ideas, or if this second sequel simply has quite a lot to live up to from the strength of its predecessors, the messages conveyed in The Hidden World are perfectly serviceable as they demonstrate the value of perspective through kindness, but the final product lacks a bit of the emotional weight of other similar movies.

While How To Train Your Dragon hits several strong notes, it may not have the crescendo fans are expecting. The series does bring closure (with of course no complete finality as to not allow for another sequel someday) but given how special these characters have become, the send-off feels a little less grand that many might be hoping for. Other minor quibbles include an odd quasi-off-putting subplot of one Hiccup’s friends continually hitting on his mother, and a few snippets of dialogue that are clearly intended to make adults laugh but feel a little too out of place in what’s supposed to be a family film.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is likely to satisfy champions of the series well-enough through a wondrous display of creativity. While it may not be the most memorable entry, The Hidden World has enough at its core to make it enjoyable for kids and adults alike.

Recommended if you enjoyed: How To Train Your Dragon (series), Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Lego Batman Movie

FINAL GRADE: A-

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Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.