February 21, 2019

CINEMA | 'How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World' Soars

Jay Baruchel Dean DeBlois | DreamWorks Animation | How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

DreamWorks Animation's long-spanning, mildly underrated fantasy series wraps up with the emotionally affecting and breathlessly visualized How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Writer/director by Dean DeBlois caps off the trilogy with another family-centred action-adventure animation ride about dragons and Vikings.

Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera's ever adolescent voices continue to ground the fantastical misadventures of the mystic. Their characters' evolution continues the themes of growing and letting go. Despite the light, fun dragon dynamics and familiar characters, the sequel does feel somewhat inessential and basic in its execution. It acts little more than a sendoff to Hiccup and his dragon Toothless.

Luckily, the breathtaking visuals and extended dragon flying sequences with Toothless the Night Fury and his new female counterpart (dubbed "Light Fury") mask most of any story deficiencies. A good amount of time is focused on the dragons oddly compelling "mating" rituals and chemistry. The series' stirring energy highlighted by composer John Powell's adventurous musical score and visual consultant Roger Deakins' imagery continues to build the Nordic drama's stakes as well.

While the stunning visual animation and choreographed flying sequences maximize the simple storytelling, it's difficult not to linger for more. It's hard not to have fun or crack a smile amidst the vocal performances of Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and others. However, the overly straightforward plot and one-note scary villain, Grimmel voiced by an eerily stoic F. Murray Abraham, do the trick just satisfyingly enough.

Hidden World is more than a fitting, emotionally gratifying conclusion to DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon series. Anchored by DeBlois' strong sense of character storytelling with a fun and youthful but now slightly aging voice cast, the sequel sends its characters off in strong fashion.

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