At long last, the long-awaited final entry in the How To Train Your Dragon series of children’s films arrived, promising joy, tears, and closure as our fellow dragon riders come together for one last ride.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World takes place one year after How To Train Your Dragon 2, where Hiccup the Horrendous Haddock now stands as chief of Berk, and dragon and Viking seemingly live in peace. As it turns out though, the two parties are finding that their coexistence together is becoming strained. Nevertheless, they are content with each other, until a new threat, by the name of Grimmel, emerges from the skies and threatens the peace.
Promotional material discusses this new tale as one where “Hiccup’s role as Chief is put to the test” and “Grimmel is a threat unlike anything Hiccup has ever seen before” and “this tale explains why there are no more dragons in the world”. These points are ones which will be looked at in greater depth.
The main point of the story tries to address the issue of why Vikings and dragonkind can no longer coexist. The film starts off by showing that Berk is overpopulated with dragons, yet fails to demonstrate why this is such a problem, save for knocking a couple of buildings into the sea, which leaves the audience to infer that it’s a problem without allowing themselves to feel it. Of course, much of How To Train Your Dragon lore is that dragons are hunted and it’s Team Hiccup that fly in to save the day; rescuing dragons whilst giving the bad guys the old one-two. In fact this is much of the reason why Berk is overpopulated with dragons in the first place, so this is often one of the antagonising features of this film.
Then enters Grimmel, the big bad – a dragon hunter specialising in Night Fury’s. With his intimidating accent, sadistic nature, and love of mind games, this is truly someone we were meant to fear. Except we don’t. As wonderful as Grimmel is, he doesn’t add much to the plot. In fact, he doesn’t serve as the main antagonising feature of this film, which is the threat of the coexistence of Vikings and dragons, but merely serves to complement it. It’s as if the writers absolutely wanted to have a villain for this film, so they wrote in some sort of excuse without paying attention to the actual issue at hand.
On the other hand, there is Hiccup, who is probably one of the most coordinated members of this film, yet still trying to figure himself out, which makes sense after all he’s been through. The trials that Hiccup is put through in this film include how he plans to manage dragons and Vikings living on Berk, and how he protects the village from Grimmel, the film’s “oh so big threat”. Grimmel puts Hiccup to the test, treating the hunt for Toothless, Hiccup’s Night Fury dragon, as one big game. However, as much as this is a game for Hiccup and Grimmel, they don’t spend a lot of time playing it, as Hiccup’s much too preoccupied with running around and looking for an ancient legend called the “Hidden World”.
Then there’s the Hidden World, the namesake of the film. Its introduction is fantastic. Everything is colourful, the music is wondrous, the look in Hiccup’s eye as he absorbs everything he sees; it’s a magical moment. Though for a film named after this amazing place, it’s a shame we only get a taste of it. Worse yet is that everything you see is pretty much everything that isn’t already shown in the trailer. It makes the title seem a little misleading. If it were called ‘How To Train Your Dragon 3’, it would have made more sense, and would have kept with the consistency of having numbered titles with each entry.
All in all, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is, in a nutshell, just a film. It’s more How To Train Your Dragon action, but not much more than that. The film tries and fails to oppose it’s main issue with a powerful, yet misplaced villain, who unfortunately does not justify the means to the films ending. All in all, 6/10.