How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – A franchise we’re going to miss

Review: The touching relationship between one boy and his beloved pet comes to an end

The Hidden World introduces a “wild and skittish” Light Fury love interest for Toothless, setting a ticking time-bomb beneath the bond between Hiccup and Toothless

Film Title: How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Director: Dean DuBlois

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig and F. Murray Abraham.

Genre: Animation

Running Time: 104 min

Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 06:00

   

Hiccup and Toothless return for an emotional fullstop to Dreamworks Animations’ beloved coming-of-age cycle. While the franchise, based on the children’s books by British author Cressida Cowell, has spawned various shorts and two cartoon spin-off series (Riders of Berk and Netflix’s Race to the Edge), The Hidden World lovingly brings the curtain down on the central friendship. Don’t expect a sneaky quadrilogy.

At the start of The Hidden World, Hiccup has taken over from his late father, Stoick (Gerard Butler, who appears in flashback) as chieftain of the tribe, and is presiding over a utopia where humans and dragons live together.

Working alongside his conservationist mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), his warrior girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera), and various bumbling sidekicks, Hiccup stages daring rescues against dragon rustlers, who, in turn, draft in the services of fearsome dragonslayer Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham).

Together, Hiccup and the good denizens of Berk have little option but to move their dragon to the possibly mythological realm of the title. The Night Fury-obsessed Grimmel, however, has other plans.

Wild

How to Train Your Dragon films are jollied along by goofball characters and pratfalls, yet film-maker Dean DeBlois and his team have consistently kept the faith with the touching relationship between one boy and his beloved pet. That The Hidden World introduces a “wild and skittish” Light Fury love interest for Toothless sets a ticking time-bomb beneath the bond between Hiccup and Toothless.

We should expect no less from a franchise that previously – between many toddler-friendly sight gags – has mutilated its hero and killed off a major character. It helps, too, that the first film debuted a decade ago, amplifying the sense that this is the end of an era, especially for those kids who have grown up alongside Hiccup. 

As with its predecessors, the third Dragon film zips along, punctuated by credible action sequences and gleeful silliness. Roger Deakins, who finally won an Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, returned as cinematography consultant, and it shows in every frame.

Against the tsunami of incoming sequels – Men in Black 4, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, Jumanji 3 – here’s a franchise we’re going to miss.