How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) ☆☆☆(3/4): Their final adventure

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Animation feature film “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”, the last chapter of the trilogy which started with “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010) and then continued with the following 2014 sequel film, is a fairly entertaining work with some emotional moments to touch us. Although it is not exactly better than its two predecessors, the film still amuses and excites us enough while following the last adventure of its two endearing main characters, and it is also quite poignant as they come to accept the inevitable change on their friendship in the end.

The story of the film begins with the latest rescue operation led by a Viking lad named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon friend Toothless. Since their big adventure in “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (2014), they have rescued lots of dragons along with their colleagues including Hiccup’s girlfriend Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera), and a remote sea island where Hiccup and other members of his tribe including his mother Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchett) reside has been quite saturated with many different dragons as a result. As the chief of his tribe, Hiccup tries his best for the harmonious co-existence of his tribe and dragons on the island, but it is clear that the island is too small to accommodate both his tribe and dragons, and he certainly knows well that he should do something about this imminent matter.

However, there soon comes another matter as a wily and ruthless dragon hunter named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) enters the picture. Hired by a trio of warlords who want to capture dragons without any interference from Hiccup and his fellow dragon riders, Grimmel is quite determined to capture and kill Toothless mainly because Toothless is a dragon of a very rare breed, and he happens to have a perfect bait for Toothless: a female white dragon of the same breed. When that female dragon appears right in front of Toothless and Hiccup during their flight time in the sky, Toothless certainly becomes curious about that female dragon, and we later get some laughs as they come to have a little humorous moment of courtship.

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In the meantime, after his first encounter with Grimmel, Hiccup decides that his tribe and all the dragons in the island must leave the island, though he is not so sure about whether he can find a certain mythic place which is probably located somewhere beyond the sea. When he was very young, his father Stoick the Vast (voiced by Gerard Butler) used to tell him about that mysterious place, and he has been trying to figure out its exact location from pieces of records left by his father, but there has not been any breakthrough for him yet.

Not long after Hiccup’s tribe and the dragons come to settle temporarily at some spot far away from their island, Toothless encounters that female dragon again, and he comes to have a joyful free time along with his new friend thanks to a new device made by Hiccup. As Toothless and his new friend freely fly high in the sky together, the film serves us a series of lovely visual moments worthwhile to watch at a big movie theater, and the score by John Powell, who did a superlative job in the previous two films, further enhances the lyrical romantic mood between these two fine creatures.

Of course, things eventually get more serious than before as Grimmel succeeds in tracking down Hiccup’s tribe and the dragons, and director/writer Dean DeBlois, who previously directed “How to Train Your Dragon” and the 2014 sequel film, gives us plenty of fun and excitement. Although the overall result occasionally looks rather plain compared to what we saw from the two previous films, the action sequences in the film are competently handled with skill and style at least, and I also appreciated the considerable awe and wonder shown from a visually gorgeous sequence later in the story.

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Above all, the film keeps focusing on what is being changed between Hiccup and Toothless, whose relationship has always been the engaging emotional center of the trilogy. As they go through their last adventure together, Hiccup is reminded again of how much he cares about Toothless, but he also comes to realize what is really the best for not only Toothless but also many other dragons, and we accordingly get a bittersweet moment when he and his people do what should be done for Toothless and other dragons.

The main cast members of the film are solid in their voice performance. Jay Baruchel is likable as usual in his nerdy voice performance, and he is also supported well by various performers including America Ferrara, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig, and F. Murray Abraham. While most of them are rather under-utilized, they fill their respective supporting roles as much as required, and Abraham surely has some fun with his villain character.

Although it understandably feels less fresh at times, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is still a well-made animation film which did its job as much as expected. Sure, it is not something as great as the best works of Pixar Animation Studios, but it and its two predecessors are admirably consistent in terms of quality, and that is certainly an achievement to be cherished in my inconsequential opinion. Bye-bye, Hiccup and Toothless – it was pretty fun to watch your adventures.

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