Review | ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’


Nicholas Biglin, Staff Writer

In October, I wrote a retrospective on the first two How to Train Your Dragon films, defending them from the label of “just another children’s movie” by heralding them as some of the greatest animated films of all time. Now, I have gotten to see How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third and final film in the trilogy.

In The Hidden World, the island of Berk has grown much larger from the second film, which Hiccup now describes as “The world’s first Viking-dragon utopia.” Hiccup and his crew continue to save dragons and bring them back to this utopia.

Hiccup’s dragon-rescuing exploits put a target on Berk, as it angers many warlords and dragon capturers. Furthermore, Berk is only so big, and with Hiccup continuing to rescue dragons, it grows increasingly crowded. The warlords, in their desperation, turn to Grimmel the Grisly, a cunning dragon hunter, to solve their Hiccup problem.

Meanwhile, Toothless discovers a magnificent white female dragon, with whom he falls in love. From there, the story kicks into full gear, as Berk and Hiccup faces its newest problem.

Villains have never been the series’ strong suit. They are not compelling antagonists in their own right; instead, they serve as plot devices to foster relationships between the series’s protagonists. The Red Death from the first film brought Hiccup and Toothless closer together. Drago in the second film strengthened the bond between Hiccup and his father.

In The Hidden World, Grimmel exists only to make Hiccup stronger within. This film deals with Hiccup’s insecurities, which Grimmel symbolizes. As a villain, though, he is quite one-dimensional, with barely anything resembling a backstory or motive.

The story and script here are passable. Pacing is one of this movie’s biggest problems, which is partly due to its mere hour-and-a-half runtime. Because of its brevity, everything feels rushed at times, leaving no moments to breathe. The Hidden World also feels disjointed at times, especially during the middle of the film, with two plotlines alternating between one another.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the story. Compared to the grand scale second film, this one feels very personal, similar to the first film. It allows you to sympathize with the emotions of the characters, especially Toothless, Hiccup, and his girlfriend, Astrid.

The animation in The Hidden World is the best in the series, with some of the most beautiful scenes and shots I’ve ever seen in any film. It places a greater emphasis on dramatic lighting effects, which made it look extremely beautiful. The music, composed by the returning John Powell and new Klaus Badelt, is as always incredible.

However, one thing I would say about it is that in some emotional scenes I felt it could have been better, but overall it was amazing.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World wraps up the trilogy in a satisfying way, and as a longtime fan I very much appreciated it. While far from perfect, it still remains both an excellent standalone film and an incredible ending to one of my favorite movie trilogies of all time.