What began as an unlikely friendship between a young Viking and his fearsome dragon has developed into an epic adventure over much of their lives. In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Hiccup has grown as chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid (America Ferrara) and has created a stunning yet frenzied dragon utopia. When their life is threatened by a mysterious new foe, Hiccup and Toothless are forced to run from their home in search of a hidden world most believe is a myth. Lost and alone, the people of Berk must grapple with starting a new life while face with the darkest threat their village has ever seen.
Written and directed by Dean Deblois (Lilo & Stitch), the Dragontrilogy is one of the more highly regarded animated film series in recent memory. With both previous entries having been nominated for Best Animated film at the Oscars, the series is known for its dramatic integrity and interest in handling issues such as death and physical disabilities in an emotionally mature manner. With the third (and presumably final) entry, Dubois and his team create a satisfying emotional climax to the journey of the now beloved characters. Visually, the film looks spectacular in 4K, especially within the Hidden World itself. Filled with every conceivable colour and creature, Deblois and his team paint the screen with stunning and seamless animation.
Throughout the trilogy, fans have witnessed Hiccup grow from inexperienced teen with dreams of teaming with dragons into a young man grieving the loss of his father. Now, as we meet him in The Hidden World, Hiccup has matured as a leader and seen his vision of a human-dragon paradise come to fruition. His relationship with Astrid has grown to the place where marriage is being considered and he is questioning what the next step is for him. While Hiccup has never been perfect, he has always sought to be a good leader and young man of integrity, especially with his faithful Night Fury, Toothless, by his side. However, when Toothless comes face-to-face with a female of his own species, their alliance is threatened by romance and Hiccup is faced with his greatest challenge: stepping out on his own.
While this film is more playful than the other two entries—the romance between Toothless and his beau is lighter than the previous dramatic themes—The Hidden Worldgrapples with what it means to let go of your expectations of others. While Hiccup dreams of a world hisway, his world is shaken when he begins to realize the importance of letting others set their own course. As he continues to grow and develop as a leader, he learns that truly placing value on others allows them to spread their wings and fly in their own direction. In this way, Hiccup learns that simply because the journeys of others don’t fit into his vision, it also doesn’t mean that their love for one another means less. In fact, it creates a mutual respect that encourages the emotional and spiritual health of both involved, be it human or dragon.
Special features on the disc are solid with a number of featurettes summarizing the development of the series (some from the perspective of the characters themselves). However, the highlights may be the two shorts – Bilbyand Bird Karma– which rival Pixar in quality and entertainment value. Also, a feature-length commentary by the creative team is also welcome for a deeper dive into the development of the beloved franchise.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden Worldis currently available on 4K, Blu-ray and VOD.