Friday, February 22, 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - Review

As successful as animated films can be upon their arrival, when the sequel rolls around, it doesn’t always go quite as well. However, the How to Train Your Dragon series is one of the exceptions. Not only was the first film a remarkable and charming surprise, not only did the sequel elevated the series without becoming too complex or too big, but the entire trilogy has constructed a tale of dragons and vikings that is excellent from start to finish.

Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid (America Ferrera), Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together—to the very ends of the Earth—to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure 

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World completes what few trilogies can; a coherent and well-rounded story that never lost sight of what it was at its core. Its themes of friendship and love carried from film to film, and thus created a trilogy that is equally beautiful emotionally as it is visually. And yet, never does it feel overly complex either, perhaps the result of a lackluster antagonist. This third film is a near perfect wrap up of all that has come before, and sends these characters off in the best way it could, complete with an ending that may just get the biggest skeptics to well up a bit.

As baffling as it is for Jay Baruchel to be playing a viking chief on paper, his character of Hiccup has made a natural progression to the role of leader. And while the nervous natured boy is still there, mainly due to Baruchel’s odd cadence, he handles the stern chief role when he needs to. The rest of the voice work is solid, even if the characters themselves are given little to do, or even wasted in some cases. 

In most situations, the lack of a supporting cast would diminish the film as a whole, however, the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless continues to be the glue that holds it all together. They’re as charming as ever, even as they grow and change.

Despite all of this praise, the film continues to stand out for the astounding beauty of its animation and wonderful score. The vibrant colors of this franchise are only elevated in the titular Hidden World, a magical and mesmerizing show of imagination and creativity. The music, done once again by John Powell, builds on themes from the past and creates something new and amazing all the same. Say what you will about the characters or story, but one can’t deny that this franchise is beautifully crafted.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings a fantastical animated franchise to a such a heartfelt close in a way that very few sequels do. The voice work is solid, and the story relies heavily on emotion and themes rather than a complex narrative, but the film absolutely soars in the technical department. Once again, the animation is spectacular and gorgeous in its design, and the score transports audiences instantly to the enchanting world of dragons and vikings. If all conclusions were even marginally as satisfying as this film, the world would be a much better place.

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