Star Rating:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Director: Dean Deblois

Actors: Kit Harington, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler

Release Date: Friday 1st February 2019

Genre(s): Adventure, Animation, Family

Running time: 104 minutes

Particularly well-suited for families and younger audiences

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is under pressure from the citizens of Berk to marry his long-time girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera). However he has more important things to worry about. Berk is under threat from a dragon hunter named Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham). Hiccup also discovers that his loyal dragon Toothless is not the last Night Fury left after all.

The How to Train Your Dragon trilogy comes to an end. After the marvellous 2010 first instalment and super sequel four years later, this final chapter is undoubtedly its weakest, though it's still enjoyable enough. This latest instalment is particularly well-suited for families and younger audiences, which isn't necessarily bad. It's just that a child will get a greater sense of humour and wonder out of it than you will.

Our story opening follows Hiccup and his fellow dragon riders and friends as they continue to rescue dragons. Whether you love or hate them, Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple) are very much front and centre of the film. There's even a side plot involving Ruffnut irritating everyone to the point of surrender at one point. One character that you do feel the loss of is Hiccup's father Stoick (Gerard Butler), the most Viking of all Vikings. Stoick appears in dream sequences but you'd miss him in the battle scenes and the father-son relationship which played such a core emotional drive in the previous movies. Cate Blanchett's role as Hiccup's mother Valka is likewise fairly insignificant.

While the animation is as appealing as it is across the series, there are some aspects of The Hidden World that seem a little off. Firstly, there are more dragons than ever. While this will add to the sense of wonder experienced by young viewers, more practically thinking adults won't be able to help thinking how can the ecosystem of Berk possibly sustain everyone? Moreover while the casting of F. Murray Abraham as the villain is inspired, the Christopher Lee-like antagonist is still the least threatening and least interesting villain of the trilogy. Lastly, most of the big action sequences take place on ships. With the spaces feeling restricted, the scope of the action seems limited.

The final scenes of The Hidden World indicate that yes, this really is the end of the series, and they do a nice job at wrapping matters up. It's a sweet ending and slightly contrived, but no more than one would expect.