How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday February 20, 2019

'How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World'
'How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World'  

Three things that have consistently defined the "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise are adventure, visual prowess, and heart. The third installment, "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World," has adventure to spare. It's a rip-roaring tale with heroes we've grown to love living in a human-dragon utopia that is threatened by a quality villain looking to capture and kill the creatures occupying the land. It hits its beats perfectly and knows exactly which notes to play in order to capture its audience's attention.

The aesthetic beauty of the film is also some of the franchise's best visual work to date, with a gorgeous sequence involving two dragons falling in love that will likely remain one of the finest cinematic achievements of 2019. Like these two bonded beasts, the movie blends its adventurous spirit and stunning animation brilliantly, bringing to the screen a perilous, exciting, humorous journey worth taking.

If only the third element, heart, were more present here. The second entry in the franchise had sweeping orchestrations of emotion, admittedly bringing a tear to my eye as it explored the nature of family relationships and ancestral responsibility. 'The Hidden World' targets its themes at romantic relationships this time around, and the level of poignancy certainly suffers as a result.

The main character, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), is being pressured by those around him to finally marry his beloved Astrid (America Ferrera), but the fear of commitment is getting the better of him. The movie's strongest venture voyages into the romantic pursuit of Hiccup's dragon, Toothless, and another " Night Fury" dragon. There's plenty of humor found in the feline-esque ways that these dragons attract to one another, but it's admittedly a strange mix considering how these dragons have acted like dogs for much of the franchise.

Many of the side characters have one-note romantic subplots. In a boyish crush kind of way, Snotlout (Jonah Hill) makes desperate attempts to woo Hiccup's mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett). Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) is trying to decide which member of her friend group to pursue romantically. And then there are recurring jokes and sight gags, all of which are enjoyable, but the movie seems to lose itself in the momentary instances and forget the bigger picture.

It's likely the most agreeable "How to Train Your Dragon" film for kids, but it might mark the most disappointing entry yet when it comes to adult enjoyment. This one's all fun and games, despite an emotional climax that feels unearned yet will certainly sucker in the less emotionally guarded. All in all, this is an inoffensive animated adventure that makes the most of what it's got, even if I wish it offered a tad bit more.