How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review

Of the big animation studios, Dreamworks is the most interesting. I mean Sony Animated Studios stuff is near universally unwatchable, Illuminations stuff is so aggressively mediocre that the only way to review their stuff is in rhyme (trust me on this) and of course, Disney/Pixar are usually the unassailable kings with Arrdman snapping at their heels.

But Dreamworks has always veered all over the shop. They’ve made good films, great films and borderline unwatchable films. However, whilst most of the praise has gone towards the bafflingly popular Shrek franchise my favorite work of theirs has been the How to Train your Dragon Franchise based on some books I’ve never read. Nor do I intend to. Which, despite being awesome films seem to get very little attention.

Starting from the fantastic point of mixing Dragons with vikings, this franchise has amazing animation, great characters, incredible visuals, a fast enough pace to gloss over the fact that this franchise has an implied body-count in the hundreds, great music and has the rare distinction of actually using Gereard Butler the right way- a a big shouty warrior king.

Not only did it do all that right, but they’ve made a song and dance about how this is the ‘final’ film in the trilogy and, yeah, i’d agree with that. But, there was just something about this film that didn’t quite click with me.

I mean it still had amazing animation, great characters, incredible visuals, a fast enough pace to gloss over the fact that this franchise has an implied body-count in the hundreds, great music and has the rare distinction of actually using Gereard Butler the right way- a a big shouty warrior king. But despite all of that there was just a feeling of a franchise running slightly out of steam.

In theory the plot is very simple. Group A (nice vikings and dragons) are running away from group B (evil vikings with brainwashed dragons) whilst trying to get to point C a ‘hidden world’ where vikings and dragons can live in peace. Very simple plot which I think was actually called Battlestar Galacatica the last time I encountered it. (The original 70s series, the modern remake did my head in.)  However, there’s also the subplot of our main characters dealing with the fact they both have partners now and maybe their worlds aren’t meant to mix.

I mean yes, I laughed at the funny bits and my beloved wife cried like a baby at the right bits but at the same time there was slightly too much run-time given to characters that speak only in grunts and gurgles, the villain is a bit of a step-down from previous entries in the series and would have functioned better as a sidekick or being split into two characters as he’s simply not as menacing as he’s built up to be. He wants to be Jafar but comes across more as Iago. (The parrot, not the character from Othello.) I’m glad that the franchise tried something new but it hasn’t quite worked. But as he’s barely in the movie anyway so I guess it all balances out. Giving some side characters less run-time (especially one with a really unfunny running joke about a beard) would have made me happier.

Also, the musics getting a bit repetitive. Yes, it’s lovely that you made a really uplifting piece of music but  by the 37th time I’ve heard it it’s going to grate a little.

Also, it’s got this really weird view of relationships- basically that once you find a partner you can never have fun again. Ever. Under any circumstances. You just have to stay home. A least that was my reading of it. Which doesn’t tally with my experience of healthy relationships.

These quibbles aside, this is a very, very good and incredibly definitive to one of the most underrated animated trilogies of all time. It looks good, it’s got  a slightly overlong run-time and the villain could do with an upgrade but otherwise its a fantastic end to a very under-rated trilogy.

My Score- See It 

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