‘The Hidden World’ soars above

If you ever want to feel like you’re flying, listen to artist Jonsi’s collaborations with composer John Powell during the credits of the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies. As a matter of fact, listen to all of the series’ scores and soundtracks, which manage to capture the sentiment, nostalgia and exhilaration each movie conveys to its viewers. The final installment featured the most fitting song for the ending of the series, titled “Together from Afar,” most certainly referring to main character Hiccup’s friendship with his dragon Toothless. Both poignant and bittersweet, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” released in theaters Friday, tying up dragon rider Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) saga by revealing the fate of the dragon world and the beloved Viking island of Berk.

Following Hiccup a year after the events of the second movie and six years after the first, the proclaimed dragon master and explorer has grown into his role of chief after the passing of his father in the previous movie. Reunited with his mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) and surrounded by a strong support system of friends — including his partner Astrid (America Ferrera) — Hiccup has continued to improve his inventions to further integrate dragons into Viking lifestyle. The movies have always strove to focus on the strength of Hiccup’s friendship with Toothless and facing the dragon vs. Viking mentality of the rest of the world. This film was no different, presenting the villain Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), an infamous dragon hunter who is targeting Toothless.

Hiccup discovers the possibility of even more unidentified dragons in a “hidden world,” including the discovery of a “Light Fury,” who serves as a foil and love interest to night fury Toothless. With Grimmel’s personal vendetta to exterminate life, the characters are faced with multiple difficult decisions that puts all of their relationships to the test, especially Hiccup and Toothless, who must test the strength of their bonds when faced with challenges by themselves.

The movie, and series as a whole, are masterful in all areas of execution, with breathtaking animation, well-constructed plot, developed characters, complex worldbuilding, skillful voice acting and an expressive soundtrack. I can tell that the series is a labor of love crafted by director Dean DeBlois and Dreamworks. Everyone who has worked on the movies, such as voice actors Baruchel and Ferrera, have truly enjoyed working on such a proclaimed project. The film succeeds in its portrayal of love because of the love that has gone into it.

Few movies have given me such a feeling of euphoria, emotion and transcendence like the “How to Train Your Dragon” series, which I am not ashamed to say. “The Hidden World” does not shy away from mature themes or heavy topics, nor suffers from pigeonholing itself to one demographic or the temptation of financial incentives. The series’ audience has grown with the arc of the movies themselves.

By continuing the stories of the complex characters we have seen mature throughout the years, the movie truly feels like an homage to the series and the world of dragons that began a decade ago. The visuals, although stunning in the previous installments, are truly breathtaking in the finale, whether it be a panoramic of a landscape or dynamic action scene.

Although the ending is bittersweet, it is satisfying and ties up the trilogy well. There were some choices that seemed somewhat out of the characters’ personalities. The new villain doesn’t feel as threatening as the movie had made him out to be, so I believe some challenges could have been circumvented. Nonetheless, the details that I may have qualms about are not enough to diminish the overall quality of the movie. I would not say that it wholly surpasses the first two films in the trilogy, however, “The Hidden World” is a feat by itself for being an actual satisfying, quality, finale. As a fan, my standards going into the movie were high, but I can say I’m proud of what the series has accomplished with “The Hidden World.”

Rating: 4.5/5


Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.