Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett
Director: Dean DeBlois
All good things must come to an end. After nine years, three movies, and a whole plethora of other projects, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World finally caps off this franchise giving it a fitting conclusion for this well-received series. The first two movies have received near-universal acclaim and to the surprise of no one, this one follows suit. Beautifully animated, stacked with elite talent, and a strong moral message make How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World one of the strongest Dreamworks films of the decade and gives them a legitimate shot at taking home the Best Animated Feature Academy Award next year.
The film follows Hiccup (voiced by Baruchel) after the events of the first two movies as they focus on rescuing dragons from their captors and creating a society where humans and dragon can exist together. When Grimmel the Grisley (voiced by Abraham), a notorious dragon hunter who hunted the Night Furies to near extinction, finds out about Hiccup’s land of cohabitation, he makes it his mission to finish the Night Furies off once and for all. Like the two films that came before it, the How to Train Your Dragon series always shows that they know exactly how to animate a movie and show us everything we need to see beautifully. The color palates are beautiful, especially the scenes in the Hidden World, the transitions are fluid, and the scenes are always busy without ever feeling like they have too much going. I think this is the first animated movie I’ve seen in quite some time that used animation techniques to mimic cinematography like tracking shots and dutch angles, so any opportunity to be innovative in an animated is always appreciated. Outside of the animation, the voice-acting is once again impressive as this absolutely stacked cast shows us they aren’t just great in their dramatic roles, but also in their lighter roles too. When you have a cast that is absolutely elite in whatever genre they work in and put them together with animators that care and talented writers, you end up with a movie that is not only great for younger audiences, but for all audiences. Finally, I was blown away with just how touching the moral message of the film was. If you’re someone who has been emotionally invested in the earlier movies, the ending will completely satisfy you and make it feel as if the last decade has been worth the wait. It teaches kids a valuable lesson while also entertaining them which is one of the best things a movie like this can do. Teaching kids that sometimes we have to make sacrifices in order to make others happy and to do what is right is such a powerful message and the way it is framed drives the message that much further home. When you combine all of these elements and also provide two recurring strong female characters in Astrid (voiced by Ferrera) and Valka (voiced by Blanchett), you have something that can capture the attention of all audience members regardless of their age and gender.
Overall, the bigger the fan of this series that you are, the more powerful the movie becomes. I think when everything is all said and done, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World may end up as one of the best animated movies of the year and an argument can be made that it’s one of the best of the decade. After Sony finally beat Disney at the Academy Awards this year, Disney may end up losing for the second year in a row if they don’t step up their game. Only time will tell, but it looks like 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for animation so far
Overall Score: 8/10