By Thomas Heasley
The last of a trilogy, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” follows suit with its predecessors as a visual spectacle but falls short leading up to its satisfying conclusion.
This movie continues the story of Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, who befriended a rare and friendly Night Fury dragon named Toothless. Since the first movie, the Vikings of the Isle of Berk have been struggling to adapt to a new life with dragons.
This time, Hiccup, the villagers and the dragons are faced with a new threat: Grimmel, a man who is coming to kill all dragons, specifically Toothless. Grimmel, voiced by F. Murray Abraham, is the antagonist of the plot. He is a lone assassin bent on destroying every last dragon, and when he finds out about Toothless, he goes looking for Hiccup.
Unfortunately, his motivations seem lacking, making him come off as a generic bad guy. Because of Grimmel’s wanting characterization, he seems more like a plot device to urge our heroes on a search for the Hidden World, a fabled place where all the dragons live in peace and solitude.
The series has always been a shining achievement in its visuals and audio, and this movie picks up that torch. The fluidity and abundance of movements and choreography are done wonderfully. There’s a scene in particular, where the Night Fury dragons dance on the sand, making me forget I was watching computer animation. The flying scenes were also impressive with Toothless’s many swift spins and swirls through the clouds. Music swells at all the right moments, highlighting Celtic-inspired aesthetic.
Hiccup shows the same steady growth he’s seen throughout the series, gradually shaping into a stronger person and picking up as a leader where his deceased father left off. Now, he has to lead a people in the face of a dangerous foe and a world turned against dragons. Hiccup’s character development has always been a strong aspect of the series, and it is reflected in this installment.
Despite a returning, lovable cast, some characters have less relevance. Besides Hiccup’s girlfriend Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera, who serves mostly as moral support for Hiccup, others such as Truffnut, Snotlout and Gobber are relegated to gags. Even Hiccup’s mother, as important as she was in the last movie, had little to say.
Oddly enough, much of the characterization shines through in the interactions between Toothless and the new, white Night Fury. Toothless and the white dragon are the last of their kind, so naturally, they want to become close. Many scenes show both dragons bonding and pushing each other’s boundaries, despite never saying a word, but still showing true chemistry.
Although the story did reach a satisfying conclusion and provided great fun along the way, I sometimes wondered if every scene needed to happen. There were too many opened doors that the writers didn’t want to walk through. In the end, we got a story that wanted to see this universe reach a conclusion that wasn’t too risky but managed pack-in a lot of action, warmth and beauty.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment