Out this week in cinemas is the final chapter of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
It’s crazy when you think about it. It has been close to a decade since the How to Train Your Dragon franchise began. in 2010 we were treated to the first film and it was hit. People fell in love with the people of Berk especially young Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his partner in crime Toothless the legendary Nightfury. In the first film, he united these two very different races under one banner. In the second film in 2014, he elevated his village and saved his corner of the world. There was tragedy along the way but also hope he became the chief of his village and promised to protect them and lead them into the future.
Now in 2019, we follow Hiccup, Toothless and the whole village of Berk as they try and survive in a world that maybe doesn’t want them. Hiccup faces off against an enemy as ingenious as him and he also may have to deal with a life without Toothless in it.
Director Dean DeBlois returns once more to close this final chapter on The How to Train Your Dragon franchise and he does so with the experience of someone who has been with these characters since the beginning. There is a warmth and familiarity that welcomes you back to this world.
This comes from the high-quality animation on show. The visuals pop and the characters have a distinct and impressive style. Dreamworks Animation is on a hot streak with their work on this film and their other projects like Trollhunters, Voltron: Legendary Defender and the How to Train Your Dragon series.
The story of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a familiar one. Many films have done this particular story before – where our two protagonists are potentially going to be separated forever all because one of them realises they may not be alone in the world anymore. If you’ve seen films like Pete’s Dragon, Harry and the Henderson’s and White Fang you will recognise this particular trope. Thankfully this is, in my opinion, the biggest issue of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
Everything else in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is just so enjoyable. From the comedic moments to the more intimate emotional ones this final chapter is emotional. I myself teared up multiple times.
One of the more fascinating parts of the film is its villain Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham). Much like the previous film’s villain Drago (Djimon Hounsou) Grimmel has a lot of depth to his character. The audience is given a brief introduction to him and from there he makes quite the name for himself as he terrorises the denizens of Berk as he vies for the destruction of Toothless.
He is a twisted mirror to the young chief as the audience learn that Grimmel killed his first Nightfury when he was a boy, sound familiar? He’s a brilliant villain, not nearly as physically imposing as Drago or terrifying as the Red Death but there is an insidious nature to him that brings a certain unique menace with it.
In the end though this is the story of Hiccup and Toothless and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a fitting final chapter in their lives. I adored it and the little ones in your life will adore it too just be sure and bring the tissues with you when you see it.