‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ exemplifies Dreamworks’ animation talent, impresses most

March 11, 2019 — by Leo Cao and Andrew Lee

Released on Feb. 22, the sensational “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” ends the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy with a rather shaky story, but is still an emotional conclusion that witnesses the charming relationship between the young viking leader Hiccup and his trusted dragon partner, Toothless, reach its epic ending.

The film suffers from a cluttered, unorganized plot, wrapped around the narrative of Toothless finding his soulmate. After defeating king dragon-trapper Drago, Hiccup has transformed his viking village into a dragon utopia. Unfortunately, there is a new threat who is determined to exterminate every dragon. The new antagonist, Grimmel, is an imitation of previous villains. He is determined to capture and kill Toothless and contrives a plan that involves distracting Toothless with a gleaming lady-dragon.

The story line does feel somewhat rushed. The Vikings’ exodus from their home appears completely unnecessary, though it does emphasize Hiccup’s development as a commander of his people, leading them to a new land in hopes of discovering a secret dragon world.

However, for a younger audience, the flaws in the story can be easily overcome by the captivating love story between Toothless and his partner.

While Grimmel’s efforts are convoluted and absurd, Toothless’s romance is the heart of the film. Watching Toothless attempt to impress the “light fury” with his outlandish mating dances is funny and adorable, and Hiccup’s perspective of this story adds fascinating scenes.

Additionally, the film includes impressive visuals and is a showcase for just how ambitious creative animation has become. In the initial scenes of the Vikings’ home, the audience can tell that the animations of Berk, the architecture and passionately designed characters are downright awe-striking. The community has developed into a metropolis filled with brightly-colored buildings and crowded with equally colorful dragons.

The thrilling narrative element is executed well, even though the main motivations are somewhat confusing. The ambitions are great — for example, using a villain that has allegedly single-handedly wiped out an entire species — but the film struggles to fill in the details, and the basic outline is similar to the two previous “How To Train Your Dragon” films.

There are a few daring and adventurous aspects of the film, such as including lengthy segments of silent flirting and dancing between Toothless and his lover. These scenes, which are completely absent of dialogue, turn out to be a highlight of the film. The spectacular quality of animation, depending only on character expressions, actions and the incredible score composed by John Powell to convey emotion and story, adds to the scenes’ heartwarming and humorous qualities.

But these scenes do not feel authentic and are often dragged out for too long, causing them to slowly grow awkward and make audiences feel uncomfortable.

The final scenes are enough to invoke tears. Although it does not involve a fairy tale ending, the epic story of a boy and his dragon feels very complete, even if it falters slightly towards the finish line.

As film critic Peter Travers from the Rolling Stones puts it, the movie is “an animated action phenomenon with moonstruck passion in its heart and a spirit that soars.”

Although DreamWorks should be applauded for attempting a very ambitious story, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is ultimately a familiar, heartfelt hangout movie that does a decent job of hitting all of the expected beats of an emotional story.

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