How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World; probably Dreamworks’ best animated film


Emma Leigh Wright, Writer

DreamWorks Animation recently released the third and final movie for their How to Train Your Dragon trilogy on February 22 in theaters everywhere in the US, once again showing off the phenomenal scenery, breathtaking and detailed animation, visually stunning flying scenes, the now stronger relationship between a boy and his dragon, and even some new dragons! How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World got overwhelmingly positive reviews from all over the place, from Rotten Tomatoes and RollingStone to the user and fan reviews all across the internet. I agree with all of these, it’s a very gorgeous, well-written finale for a series of well-written films, if not the best of the three.

Personally, as a long-time How to Train your Dragon fan, I expected The Hidden World to be the best film in the franchise. The trilogy has done a stupendous job at keeping a consistent story throughout the three movies. Director Dean DeBlois said in an earlier interview with Screen Rant that the series had three movies planned from the start: “When we decided we were going to make a sequel from the first film, and that was to tell Hiccup and Toothless’ story in three acts. And by having three movies to do it we also knew that our end destination a world without dragons, the world we now know – what happened, where did they go, could they come back? All of those mysteries were delicious challenges back in the day, and they lined up with the inspiration that I took from Cressida Cowell, the author of the books. She had the same ambition at the time she was working on the last installment in her book series, and her goal was to explain what happened to dragons. And though we had very different narratives, as a goal it felt like a really compelling one.”

This shows that the How To Train Your Dragon franchise was planned and wasn’t just thrown together because the first one was loved, unlike some other Dreamworks films that got sequels that may not have been necessary. I really liked the first two films when they came out a few years ago and I was super excited to see that a finale was in the works. Once I found out about it, I started to lose my mind; I was so excited that I watched the trailers over and over again.

The Hidden World is different from the first and second How to Train your Dragon movies in a few ways. Visually, this film is astonishing! From the colorful crystals and bioluminescence of the hidden world to the glitter-like scales of the new light fury, even the individual blades of grass are appealing to look at. When it comes to the flying scenes in the film, they are outstanding. It really feels like you’re in the air with the dragon riders, and the camera shakes from time to time depending on what’s going on in the environment. The sky scenes are so well done it just blows me away; the physics are so real and coordinated that it’s like you’re actually flying, which you don’t see a lot in animated films.

When it comes to the characters in this film and the development of them throughout, the movie is just so well paced and well written. A thing I love about these movies is the emotions they give to the dragons themselves; they don’t have a voice, but you can tell what they’re feeling, and sometimes even what they’d want to say if they could speak. In The Hidden World, this is used so much more than it was in the other two films, specifically, between Toothless and the light fury. You can see and almost feel the excitement and shock Toothless feels when he comes across the first female of his species he’s ever met. The movies shows this off further by including scenes with just the two of them since the light fury is wild and not comfortable with the presence of humans. Even though they’re just making growls, grunts, purrs, and other dragon noises, you can see the communication and emotion between the two of them, and it’s very entertaining to watch. The main character, Hiccup and the new villain Grimmel have interesting interactions too. Grimmel is different from other villains like the Red Death from the first movie and Drago from the second movie. He’s a “new kind of enemy”, and he is genuinely threatening.

There are scenes and moments throughout the movie that are real tear-jerkers; whether it’s a good tear or a not-so-good tear, the movie really keeps you engaged in the beautiful and astonishing visuals, emotions of the voiceless characters, and the overall development of the characters as they realize they have to face change for the greater good. Though the citizens of Berk may not get the happily ever after they imagined, The Hidden World promises that change, though painful, enables us to grow and become the people we need to be.