Some nine years after the release of How To Train Your Dragon, the series comes to a close with the third and final entry. The Hidden World begins with a fragile peace in affect in the town of
That friendship is one of the film's great strengths, an endearing element that is at the core of why The Hidden World works so well. Toothless has always been a wonderful creation: sweet, likeable and brimming with character. Nowhere is this more apparent then when he is going through the process of wooing a potential date. Paired with him is Jay Baruchel's Hiccup, who has been given room to develop across the trilogy whilst remaining believable. Baruchel's voice carries so much, adept at conveying Hiccup's doubts as well as skilfully landing his one-liners. The Hidden World also continues a trait of making interesting use of America Ferrera's Astrid, a figure who has refreshingly never felt like a damsel-in-distress.
Much of the voice cast return from previous entries and so there is a feeling that they have grown into their parts. The likes of Craig Ferguson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig are as endearing as ever, whilst Justin Rupple makes a distinctive impression as the recast Tuffnut. There is even room for F. Murray Abraham's charismatic tones as the villain of the piece. With this and Isle of Dogs, one can easily come to the conclusion that Abraham should pop up in every classy animation.
Baked into the How To Train Your Dragon series has been a surprisingly impactful exploration of our relationship with the natural world. The consistency across the films is part of their great appeal and it feels that not enough has been made of director Dean DeBlois' work (who has written and directed each film). The care and attention brought to the series means that it comes to a close as one of the most consistent trilogies in recent years.
There is an emotional resonance in the film's final moments as the filmmakers make the bold choice to definitively (probably) end the series. It elevates a film that, at times, feels underpowered. A willingness to wallow in the audience's fondness for the series can slow proceedings down. And, while I enjoyed his voice work, Abraham's villain rarely poses a threat. But still, when it comes to a suitable ending, The Hidden World packs a punch. While it may not bring this instalment up to the quality of the first (and certainly best) of the series, it does leave a reverberation that is felt as the credits begin to roll and the audience leaves the auditorium.