How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World
"Where part two merely faltered, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World crashes and burns."

Following the popular success of How To Train Your Dragon in 2010, it was inevitable that sequels would follow, and although the second instalment, in 2014, fell a bit flat, there was still some fan excitement when it emerged that the series would be taking wing again this year. Unfortunately, where part two merely faltered, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World crashes and burns.

Let's start with the characters. Most people who choose to see this film will be familiar with them already. That's good because if you're a newcomer you'll be completely lost. The main focus of the film remains Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), the heir to a kingdom of dragon-riding vikings who just want to live peacefully on their scrap of land by the sea, where it's not at all clear how they feed themselves or their scaly menagerie. He's won the heart of young warrior Astrid (America Ferrera) and now everyone says they should get married, but he's shy about that. Part of the reason is that she isn't really the most important person in his life - that honour goes to axolotl-like dragon Toothless, the last of the legendary night furies.

Or so they thought. On a raid to release dragons held prisoner by their foes, Toothless discovers a female night fury trapped in a cage, after which he seems unable to think about anything else. This is bad news for the tribe because the new dragon - whom we can tell is a girl because she's white with big blue eyes,the draconic equivalent of having a bow on one's head - soon falls into the hands of sinister dragonslayer Grimmel (F Murray Abraham), who plans to use her to trap Toothless and thereby take control of the whole dragon pack. The only way our human heroes can save the dragons is by finding the rumoured Hidden World, the lost land that all dragons are said to come from - but in the meantime, Hiccup has to save his own tribe.

The only character who gets much real attention here is Toothless, who is without a doubt the highlight of the film. Though he tends towards anthropomorphism in his scenes with Hiccup, the interaction between the two dragons is beautifully observed and wholly animal. As in many children's films about animals, the boring parts come when we go back to the humans, whose personalities are paper thin and who show no real sign of changing or learning anything. As for the plot, the central quest is resolved far too easily and lots of time is spent dithering around with little sense of momentum. If you're not looking to coo over the sight of dragons in flight (and today's young audiences tend to be more sophisticated than that), there's precious little here to entertain you.

Overall, this feels like a sequel made for the sake of it with little by way of inspiration. It provides a neat conclusion to the larger story but is liable to leave fans of the original feeling short-changed.

Reviewed on: 03 Dec 2019
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When Hiccup discovers Toothless isn't the only night fury, he must seek the Hidden World, a secret dragon Utopia, before a sinister dragon-slayer does.

Director: Dean DeBlois

Writer: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell

Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler

Year: 2019

Runtime: 104 minutes

Country: US, Japan

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