On March 26, 2010, DreamWorks Animation brought us a coming of age story about a misfit Viking. Based on the children’s book series by Cressida Cowell, “How to Train Your Dragon” tells the story of Hiccup and his quest to become a man, despite the tribe’s pessimistic views of him, his progressive ideals and sarcastic humor. In a world where Vikings are in a never-ending battle against dragons, Hiccup makes a shocking discovery. He finds an injured dragon; a rare species called the Night Fury. Knowing it could not survive without flight, Hiccup decided to help. This leads Hiccup to form an unlikely bond with the dragon and names him Toothless.
For almost a decade, we have seen the bond between Hiccup and Toothless grow immeasurably. Together, these two have explored unchartered territories, discovering new dragon species and making new friends. Hiccup and Toothless have faced many enemies who wanted to defeat them but, through it all, their friendship has shown how love overcomes many challenges.
This year, the friendship of a lifetime reaches its epic conclusion as DreamWorks Animation invite you to the final installment of their journey.
After one year of taking his father’s place as Chief, Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, has transformed his home into the world’s first Dragon-Viking utopia. He is always busy rescuing enslaved dragons from trappers, but there are some who want Hiccup to settle down, focus on protecting his tribe and marrying his girlfriend Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera. One night, Hiccup and Toothless discover a new species. They discover an elusive female called the Light Fury. He falls in love with the Light Fury and this leads him and Hiccup on a brand-new adventure.
Far outside Berk, Grimmel the Grisly, a dragon trapper played by F. Murray Abraham, plans for invasion. Grimmel claims to be the hunter of every Night Fury, even Toothless. With this new threat, Hiccup and Toothless must evacuate the island and travel somewhere they can be safe. Thought only to be a myth, Hiccup recounts stories from his father of a hidden world for all dragons. Soon, Hiccup, Toothless and the rest of the village set out to find this hidden world before it’s too late.
I loved how the film brought everything together into one final performance, giving audiences what they have wanted. Fans had drawn up many theories throughout the series. The film met these theories in the best way possible.
One of the highlights audiences take away from this series are the visuals. I thought the visuals were amazing, whether it comes from the character designs, the landscapes or the designs of the dragons throughout the years. The hidden world itself was a sight. I felt I was in another world the way the animators brought it to life. If there is a lesson to be taught from this film, it is a lesson on growing up, which can be found in the bond between Hiccup and Toothless. The audience can anticipate an unprepared and emotional goodbye.
“How to Train Your Dragon” has always tried to raise the bar with surprises; however, there were some things in the film that faltered. Grimmel was a weak and straightforward character. He made it clear he was going to use the Light Fury as bait to lure Toothless to him, which is predictable to the audience. Though his intentions and motivation had substance, he fails in surprise, and his behavior was too charismatic for a villain.
The series has had actors who have been through it all since day one. I applaud the performances of Baruchel, Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kristin Wiig and Craig Ferguson. In addition, the final film brought back Valka, Hiccup’s mother voiced by Cate Blanchett, and Eret, voiced by “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harrington. I thought each one of them gave life to their characters, and while some of them offer a sense of humor, there were some I did not find necessary.
“The Hidden World” is a must-see animated film. The film itself is emotionally satisfying, giving fans what they want to see while entertaining others with a well thought-out story. While most people will focus on the bond between Hiccup and Toothless, others will focus more on the visual spectacle. I am giving “The Hidden World” a rating of 9 out of 10. I would highly recommend seeing this emotional journey that will leave you in tears. Better bring some tissues!
Edited by Grace Goodacre and Lauren Claxton