How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The third film in the series, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a strong example of not knowing when to call it quits. The movie isn’t a total waste of time or animation, but it never gives these beloved characters very much to do.
Nine years after the franchise was launched, it appears that all of the dragons have now been trained. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now leader of the Viking world of dragon protectors, with mixed results. The dragons are in danger of being killed or turned into indentured servants for lesser men, but they will always have the land of Berk to protect them. Or will they?
Early on in The Hidden World, a dragon hunter named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) infiltrates Berk in an effort to kidnap Toothless, the last known Night Fury dragon and Hiccup’s own steed, at the behest of a group that wants to capture dragons. Though Grimmel typically kills rather than capture, he agrees to do this job for a fair price. Unfortunately for Hiccup and his people, Grimmel is also very good at his job and always one step ahead of them. Berk is no longer the safe haven it once was, so the heroes take off to find the mythological home of the dragons, the Hidden World.
Grimmel is cunning and ruthless, but he also has a secret weapon: a female Night Fury. These dragons mate for life and he knows that as soon as Toothless gets a look at this lass, no amount of training would ever stop him from trying to get to her. And he’s right.
Though The Hidden World looks absolutely gorgeous, and the various iterations of dragons are enough to keep any scene interesting, the film generally lacks any semblance of passion or a central message. It topically brings up the merits of working together as a team, being a good person, and letting go of loved ones for their own benefit, but overall none of these morals come through as a rallying cry for character development or plot propulsion. The whole thing just plods along and comes together in the end, as expected. Toothless has the biggest character arc and gets most of the screen time engaging in some adorable and innocent courting rituals with the new dragon, but that’s not really enough to get me emotionally invested in an over 100-minute film.
The Hidden World might be enough of a nostalgic visitation to make fans with a deep attachment to the characters and love for the artistic design of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise happy, but there’s little here for anyone else.