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How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - DVD Review

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE third and final film in the How To Train Your Dragon series is another masterful creation. Visually rich and emotionally compelling, this offers up a fittingly poignant finale to a genuinely beloved film (and TV) series.

Thanks for this goes in no small part to returning writer-director Dean DeBlois, whose affection for the series has ensured that it hasn’t fallen prey to sequel fatigue. Rather, by taking Cressida Cowell’s books as inspiration, yet remaining true to its own storytelling trajectory, this feels like a well thought out and lovingly crafted climax that actually still leaves you hungry for more.

The story evolves nicely, too, even if it trades on familiar elements. Hiccup (voiced, once again, by Jay Baruchel) has now taken over the title of tribe chief from his late father, Stoick (Gerard Butler, witnessed in flashback), and is still struggling to show that humans can co-exist with dragons.

But a new threat has emerged in the form of fearless dragon hunter (and Night Fury slayer) Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), who is intent on destroying any notion of such a utopian paradise.

Hiccup’s beloved dragon Toothless, meanwhile, finds himself torn between loyalty to his friend and a new potential love interest, in the form of a pure white dragon dubbed Light Fury, prompting some soul-searching in Hiccup over the future of their own relationship.

As stated, some of the story elements are indeed, over-familiar – not least the notion of another villain seeking to destroy what Hiccup is attempting to build. Hiccup, too, finds himself wracked by many of the same self-doubts that have marked his journey from the very first film, while still flirting with his own love interest, Astrid (Ferrera).

Yet far from feeling repetitive, DeBlois ensures that these elements are framing devices for the continued emotional development of his characters. And as thrilling as the set pieces are, this franchise works as well as it does because of the humanity it continually displays.

The friendship between Hiccup and Toothless is particularly well realised, especially during the quieter moments as both man and dragon come to realise that in order to find true happiness, they may have to part company. For Hiccup, in particular, this means stepping out of the shadow of his late father and really taking control of his own leadership.

Toothless, meanwhile, must understand the complexities of flirting while also displaying the leadership qualities inherent in his new alpha status. Come the final moments, DeBlois will be tugging at those heart-strings (while working the tear-ducts) as the inevitable farewells are said.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

But the writer-director also ensures that the supporting characters get decent lip service too. Ferrera’s Astrid is an equally important component in Hiccup’s journey and a strong female role model to boot, while Hiccup’s parents (voiced by Butler and Cate Blanchett) provide endearing voices of reason and sympathy at several points.

Craig Ferguson’s Gobber also offers up another highlight, funny yet unexpectedly endearing, while the likes of TJ Miller, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig all ensure that Hiccup’s young entourage continue to provide colourful company. F Murray Abraham is a suitably wily opponent, too, if slightly one dimensional.

If the characters continue to be strong, then the visuals are absolutely breath-taking. The big set pieces are well orchestrated and spectacular, but some of the smaller moments are truly stunning. A mid-film flight above the clouds between Toothless and Light Fury is vividly realised and genuinely romantic, as is their flight of fancy within The Hidden World of the film’s title. But even a night-time sequence that sees Toothless following a camouflaged Light Fury in between tents is brilliant in its own right.

It is DeBlois’ constant attention to detail and his obvious passion for these richly defined characters that enables How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World to soar. It is a truly magnificent film series.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 1hr 44mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 10, 2019