It is surreal to know less about a subject than your six-year-old daughter, but that was the case going into How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World. Aside from a knowledge of this franchise’s existence, I knew next to nothing about the films as a whole. My daughter, Nalyce, on the other hand turned out to be a subject matter expert about the series, as well as he television series, apparently. It was quite the role reversal having her explain to me significance of Hiccup and his dragon Toothless. Also, it gave us something to bond over, which was further expanded upon thanks to the opportunity to take her with me to this screening. For me, I found the film to be a wholesome family experience and a satisfactory conclusion to a well-liked franchise, though I’m sure there remains the opportunity for expansion of the film’s universe. Nalyce was mesmerized by the Hidden World and the different species of dragons. All in all, this is a treat for the whole family.
The film picks up after the events of the previous film with Hiccup embracing his role as the chief of Berk and its citizens. Along with his Night Fury dragon Toothless, and aided by his closest companion, he has taken the mission of liberating captured dragons from poachers. Though his actions are noble, this mission is creating a strain on Berk, as it is resulting in overcrowding as well as depleting their resources. Seeking a solution to this issue, Hiccup recalls a tale his father told him as a boy about a hidden world where all dragons originate from. He becomes determined to find his world so that his people and their dragons can live in harmony away from the threat of poachers.
Meanwhile, growing tired of the Berks’ continuous interference in their operations, the poachers recruit legendary dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly to capture Toothless in order to use his power as Alpha of Dragons to their advantage. Grimmel is a sinister man, with the reputation for killing all Night Furies. Toothless’ existence challenges this reputation, prompting swift action his part. Speaking of Toothless, the discovery of another one of his kind, a Light Fury, and their courtship begins to pull him away from best bud Hiccup.
Coming into this with fresh eyes, this is a cute series. I am not the target audience, but I still enjoyed myself immensely. The characters are lively and hilarious, especially TJ Miller who pulls double duty as twins Roughnut and Toughnut. Jay Baruchel’s Hiccup and America Ferrera’s Astrid are #relationship goals; I know I hate myself for doing that, but it is fitting. The pair are what drive the story forward, as Astrid is Hiccup’s rock, supporting him his crazy plan but also offering guidance, which provides him with confidence that he is lacking. More on Roughnut and Toughnut, who are the two scene-stealers of the film as Miller’s unique brand of comedy shines through when Toughnut provides Hiccup with relationship or when Roughnut talks the bad guy’s ear off; I instantly recognized his voice.
When it comes to Nalyce, this film got her stamp of approval in spades. She was already a fan coming in, and this third installment into her beloved series did nothing but reinforce that. Periodically I would look over at her, and she was totally wrapped out in the story, leaning forward in her seat. If only could get that kind of response at home. According to her, it was the hidden world that she loved most; she loved the colors of it and the idea of a world where dragons lived in harmony. I asked her what she was going to watch now that the movies were done; that conversation didn’t go over so well. I guess I should have eased her into that news.
As I mentioned earlier, this film was a great sendoff for the franchise, as it provides the audience with ample closure. There remains potential to expand on the franchise, maybe even a spinoff with my favorite twins, but as of right now, I walked away feeling that How to Train Your Dragon is a family-friendly experience that I’m glad I was able to share with my family.