Note: This is a spoiler-free How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World movie review
Rare is the animated movie for kids that crosses over and entertains adults. Even rarer is when multiple animated movies in a series cross over and entertain adults. The How To Train Your Dragon franchise nailed its first two attempts. Did it pull the trifecta?
While How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World isn’t the best of the bunch, it sticks to the formula that made the first two so successful and delights people of all ages.
When I say How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World sticks to the formula, let me explain what I mean. There are three elements that work well in the series finale, and one that it could do without.
Animation and Effects
I don’t know if it’s because How To Train Your Dragon is made my Dreamworks instead of Disney, but the entire franchise hasn’t gotten enough credit for the world it has created. Each movie has multiple beautiful creations and The Hidden World may have the best of the whole series.
While on a mission Hiccup and Astrid find the Hidden World itself by accident, and it’s simply visually artistic. The colors are vibrant. The shots are immersive. You’ll hear kids (and probably some adults) saying “WHOA” out loud in the theater.
In short, the sheer optics of The Hidden World is exactly what you’re looking for in an animated film.
Berk has also gotten a makeover and it’s visually vibrant. Add in some Viking battle scenes and dragons flying around and you’ve got another high-quality How To Train Your Dragon animation job from the Dreamworks team.
Another Big-Picture Message
Another thing that has worked with the How To Train Your Dragon franchise is the family dynamic. The first movie showcased the father-son dynamic. The second focused on the mother-son dynamic. The Hidden World is no different, centering around multiple relationships outside the parental realm.
It’s great that a kids’ movie can entertain throughout and still drive home an important message parents can talk about after. This entire franchise has done that, and it’s emotional at the end of The Hidden World.
A Definite Ending
Speaking of emotional at the end. I think one of the best compliments I can give How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is that Dreamworks is not going to try and milk too much out of the franchise. There is a distinct end to this trilogy in the penultimate scene. In a Hollywood world full of safe reboots and sequels guaranteed to make a profit, it’s nice that this series will start strong and end strong without a money-grabbing endeavor.
Anticipation and Addition
For all that is good about How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, there are a few things that missed; one for adults and another for the kids.
First for those of us above 11 years old. If the penultimate scene of the movie is emotional, the final scene of the movie is nothing if not wholly predictable. It was catered more toward kids, which is the important thing, so not a big deal. But within the first 30 minutes, you can tell what’s going to happen in the last 3 minutes. That combined with a weaker story as a whole and this isn’t the strongest writing of the Dragon franchise.
The second drawback is a little more significant because it impacts the target audience. More than one scene of the movie went long periods of time without any dialogue at all. It felt strange, a little out of place, and almost slow-developing (which isn’t great when you’re keeping the attention of children).
The good thing about that is it’s easy to gain attention back. In each case, the scene following has high action or comedy. So all is quickly resolved.
Should I Go See How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World?
This one is a definite yes eight times out of ten. Have kids? Go see it. Seen the first two How To Train Your Dragon movies? Go see it. Looking for a fun night out and a movie under 105 minutes? Go see it.
All told, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the best kids film of 2019 so far and worth the watch.
(Featured Image courtesy of IGN)