Studios often push out sequels as soon as possible, especially when there are huge profits to be made once achieving success with a first instalment. There are, however, some films that see the second and third films from a trilogy released a significant amount of time later. We saw this recently with the Glass franchise, which spanned 19 years to complete.
While not as extreme, the How To Train Your Dragon franchise has spanned close to a decade for the trilogy to wrap up with the final instalment, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. It’s been close to five years since the sequel reached cinemas and it was definitely worth the wait for the third.
…it was definitely worth the wait for the third…
There aren’t many animated franchises that can live up to the heights set by the DreamWorks franchise, having already received cult status after the first film and picking up Oscar nominations for both previously released films along the way. In the How To Train Your Dragon franchise, we see a semi-realistic telling of a tale of the growth of their King, Hiccup, from a clumsy teenager to the composed King he is today. Only the likes of Shrek and Toy Story can compete on the same scale over the years, putting the franchise in some good company.
Although five years have passed since the studio released the second film, only a year has passed in the film’s world.
The opening scene sets the tone of the film, showcasing the Viking-Dragon utopia, while also touching on the immediately obvious lack of space left available on their mountainous island of Berk. Their local issues are only compounded with the introduction of the film’s villain, a hunter named Grimmel the Grisly, who is directly responsible for the demise of the Night Fury species of Dragon, having hunted them to near extinction.
Toothless is believed to be the only dragon left of his species…
Toothless is believed to be the only dragon left of his species and the villain uses a captured Light Fury to tempt the Alpha dragon away from his rider. This leaves the group exposed to attack from Grimmel and Berk’s rival Viking tribe, who are aiming to rid the world of the dragon protectors.
Hiccup, along with the rest of the population and their freed dragons, decide to evacuate instead of fight a battle they’re not sure they could win. They fly to the Hidden World his dad was obsessed with finding while he was King. The Hidden World is a place of legend and mythos, believed to be the originating birthplace of all the world’s dragons.
There are also quite a number of subplots within the film; Hiccup and Astrid’s hesitance to get married and Toothless finding a mate as well. For the most part, these plot points also play an important part of decisions made by the team, all the while adding to the character growths as well.
…I was a little side-tracked by the fairly strange ‘mating rituals’ of the Fury species…
While I enjoyed a fair amount of these stories, I was a little side-tracked by the fairly strange ‘mating rituals’ of the Fury species and the 20 minutes or more spent highlighting quite a few of these moments. I had to remind myself that this film is mainly intended as a kid-friendly showcase, also noticing how the kids reacted to these scenes with glee and humour, oblivious as to what’s really unfolding.
My other gripe with How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was the lack of real motivation the villain has in hunting down all the dragons, apart from the thrill. I will admit, however, that he is entertaining as he often times outsmarts the protagonists.
As is always the case with the third film in a trilogy, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has a hard time living up to a higher standard of the first two films. However, it does a great job of telling the story of each of the characters, even when it has the thinnest plot of the three films.
From a world-building perspective, the animators did a brilliant job of creating the beautiful world they find themselves in, not least the Hidden World and its surrounding waterfalls.
There are also a few new additions of dragons for fans of the franchise.
And in addition to all this, there’s still a very strong emotional aspect to How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which really draws in viewers, laughing and crying, endearing itself to its fan base and closing-off the third chapter in style.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
A worthy entry that ends the How To Train Your Dragon with style.