How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a surface level, average-at-best animated movie that must have hid the good parts somewhere the viewers aren’t allowed to see.
How to Train Your Dragon as a whole franchise has been interesting to say the least. At times it has had a great blend of a boy and his dog story threads mixed with family expectations, and the breakdown of communication because of fear. At its worst it has also been surface level stories that are meant to cater squarely to children through action and lowest common denominator humor. The conclusion to this How To Train Your Dragon film trilogy is ending far closer to the later.
How To Train Your Dragon feels like it’s spinning its wheels at this point in regards to plot. Where previous entries juggled a few interesting stories that created a satisfying whole, this one rests on repeating old themes of knowing your self worth while throwing in it’s one major curveball learning to let go of ones you love so they can live their fullest lives. That last bit I mention would maybe make you think that there is something special in this movie, but the events that precede this message just feel very cookie cutter. An undercooked villain, and character to character interactions that just feel like there was no trust that the animators and story can show you this instead of beating you over the head with what you should take away from it. Even the inclusion of a female dragon for Hiccup’s Toothless to fall for doesn’t lean into the cute factor enough to be a valid distraction.
This movie feels lean but in all the wrong ways, like it’s missing a good chunk of that spirit that separates a great animated movie with a passable one. Will kids get a kick of this one? Sure, but for any child developing tastes they might be underwhelmed. For adults I can’t imagine many feeling like this one has anything special versus the last Dragon movies.
What this movie still has going for it though is very pretty visuals. The animators at Dreamworks still have it in that regard, but it’s hard to not point out that it feels like in the dragon department the team appears bored. The visual design of Hiccup and his friend’s in their own dragon armor looked much more detailed and interesting over that of the dragons that are looking more plastic? That lean feeling I mentioned before? It also hurts with appreciating the beautiful environments and shots that they created for this movie. Things move at such a breakneck pace that you don’t get the opportunity to enjoy the visual splendor that anyone who has seen the other two Dragons movies know is there to be consumed.
Overall it just feels like a whimper of a final story in this world and for these characters. For families looking for a great animated movie, try and see the award winning Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse because this is better left waiting for Netflix.