How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World completes the popular How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, but how does it compare to its previous installments? Under the assured direction of Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, the How to Train Your Dragon saga has become one of the most critically acclaimed animated series of all time, thanks to its rich stories and stunning animation.
Between 2010 and 2019, audiences have followed the young, adventuring Viking called Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who lives in a world where dragons exist. Initially, relations between humans and their mythical neighbors are far from amicable. But as Hiccup develops a powerful bond with the Night Fury Toothless, they forever transform the warring societies of Vikings and dragons.
Throughout the series, Hiccup and Toothless combat a number of threats to their newfound peace, such as warlords, dragon hunters and the monstrous Red Death. But against this backdrop, the franchise charts Hiccup's maturation from an awkward teen into a conflicted dragon rider and, finally, a responsible chieftain. Now that The Hidden World has ended Hiccup and Toothless’ story (for now at least) we can look back and rank their adventures from worst to best.
3. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
A year after the events of How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup is now the chieftain of Berk, which continues to thrive as a dragon utopia. But trouble looms when the dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) sets his sights on Toothless, whose bond with Hiccup is tested when the dragon becomes infatuated with a female “Light Fury.”
Regrettably, even How to Train Your Dragon is unable to escape the curse of lesser movie threequels. However, it must be stressed that just because The Hidden World is in last place, it shouldn’t be considered a bad movie. On the contrary, the film continues to exhibit the breathtaking levels of detail – along with stunning vistas and designs – that the series has become famous for. This is particularly the case when our heroes traverse the titular mystical realm, which bursts forth in a jaw-dropping display of bioluminescence.
Furthermore, the interplay between Hiccup and Toothless is as charming as it has ever been in The Hidden World; a scene where Hiccup assists his friend in a mating dance is a clear standout. Plus, the film also boasts the trilogy’s best villain, in the form of the sadistic Grimmel. As a dark reflection of Hiccup (which thankfully sidesteps the “Not so different, you and I” trope), Grimmel repeatedly outsmarts Hiccup and his friends, and he feels like a real threat to the citizens of Berk, even if he isn’t all that complex.
As such, it’s a shame that this kind of finesse isn’t as prevalent elsewhere in the third How to Train Your Dragon movie. Where its predecessors nimbly skirted their various characters and subplots, The Hidden World begins to sag under their weight midway through.
Similarly, some narrative choices are made which don’t quite succeed. The Hidden World shifts its focus from Valka (Cate Blanchett) and Astrid (America Ferrera) to series’ side characters Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Ruffnutt and Tuffnut (Kristen Wiig and Justin Rupple). On the one hand, it deepens our understanding of Hiccup’s group. But on the other, these players have previously toed that fine line between funny and outright irritating. Sadly, the third How to Train Your Dragon movie doesn’t maintain that preferred balance.
This scattershot approach resolves itself, in time for the fantastic, tear-jerking finale. But given what movies preceded it, The Hidden World’s scope and emotional heft could have been more substantial.