I found myself smiling within minutes of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. It wastes absolutely no time in plunging you back into this world and reminding you of why you fell in love with it in the first place. Arriving 5 years after its much-acclaimed predecessor, the film strives to close out the trilogy on a high note.
The animation is the best it’s ever been. The colours really pop on a giant screen and the visuals are striking. The voice work is also consistently enjoyable. This is a high-quality production from every angle and it really shows. I didn’t even mind the 3D. To my surprise, it enhanced a few portions with the added depth and immersion.
The one thing this series has been, for better and worse, is consistent. What worked in previous instalments works wonders once again. Unfortunately, the few staple shortcomings are also on display. The villain especially sticks out as one note and uninteresting. He also makes questionable decisions that serve only to move the plot in convenient directions. However, the story soars when focusing on its primary characters and their inner conflicts. Hiccup gets to go through another well fleshed out character arc. Plenty of supporting characters have beefed up roles and more memorable moments as well.
While the film sets out its plot template in the first act and follows it obediently sans any surprises, it’s still a good story. It closes out the trilogy on an emotionally satisfying note, tying together the three films in a continuous journey that’ll make for enjoyable marathon viewing someday. The core relationship between Hiccup and Toothless has always been the main hook of this series and is just as engaging here. I was fully invested in their journey as they faced new challenges and pressures.
The film does a good job of balancing the drama with plenty of action and humour. It subtly and seamlessly incorporates complex themes into its narrative. However, the struggle of being the third part of the series is the challenge of keeping things fresh. There are no moments that match the excitement of watching Hiccup and Toothless bond in part 1 or capture the thrilling twists and emotional gut punch of part 2.
It never flies as high as the earlier instalments, but How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is an emotionally satisfying, beautifully animated and engaging adventure that gracefully wraps up one of the best modern-day trilogies. Go take flight with Hiccup and Toothless one last time, they’ve earned it.