Updated: Mar 30, 2020
By Derek May:
YIN: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I shouldn’t be amazed at how all-around amazing animated films can be, but I still find myself continuously gobsmacked. These films take so long to develop, they have plenty of time to get it right. Plus, with the added expense and effort it takes to animate even a few seconds of film, you want to be 100% sure that what you’re spending that time and money on is the absolute best it can possibly be. That’s why you rarely see many cut scenes on your home bluray for animated fare.
Thus, making one incredible, nuanced, beautifully crafted animated feature is a magnificent achievement. But making three in a row—that’s just a Herculean feat! But damned if Dreamworks et al didn’t pull of exactly that with the third and seemingly final entry in the How to Train Your Dragon series: The Hidden World.
For a series based on the simple premise of a boy (Hiccup) and his dragon (Toothless), the creators have managed to mine a surprising amount of substance and growth with each entry. From the first film’s tackling of the quite mature theme of prejudice and living in peace through understanding, each sequel has upped the ante in terms of thematic and emotional exploration. With the previous film, we braved the gauntlet of love, loss, forgiveness, and rising to the call of leadership, especially as Hiccup became the Chief of Berk and Toothless the alpha dragon. This time, we delve even further, mining the meanings behind these roles, as well as learning the hardest lesson of all: letting go of those we care about most.
I wish I could just splay out spoilers, dissecting each lovely detail for the trove of intricacies buried within. But I’ll let you all discover these gems for yourself. Suffice to say that Hidden World extrapolates from the previous stories by asking the legitimate question: what happens when you’ve saved so many dragons that it becomes untenable—even with the best of intentions—for humans and dragons to co-exist? On top of all that, another villainous dragon-hunter is hot on their trail, eager to rid the world of the “scourge” of dragons. While that last part might sound a bit familiar, I once again refer to you my point about how cleverly discerning these storytellers can be—give them the benefit of the doubt here.
If there’s an overriding theme to The Hidden World it might be “finding new life.” Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has developed into a fine and respected Chief, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his doubters. And as a stream of new challenges arise, he finds himself in the unenviable position of having to choose between his people and his dragon friends. On top of that, he must begin to forge a life for himself with his beloved partner, the kindhearted warrior Astrid (America Ferrera). So w