Animated franchises are hit and miss.
You’ve got beloved classics like the Toy Story films and the Shrek series, but you’ve also got the likes of the Ice Age films and Cars.
It’s hard for every entry in a series to be a winner, but somehow the folks behind the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy have hit the jackpot. The third instalment – subtitled The Hidden World – is even more beautiful than its predecessors and has all the heart and spirit you could hope for.
In a rare move for animations, the characters in How to Train Your Dragon actually have significant development.
The Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Astrid (America Ferrera) and Toothless we meet in the first film are very different by the time number number three rolls around.
The Hidden World sees the our viking protagonists living harmoniously with their dragons in the village of Berk. Their dragon population is growing ever larger as Hiccup (now the king) and his buddies stage daring rescue missions to free enslaved dragons across the land.
But their adventures have made them enemies and the Berkians find themselves targets of a dragon killer.
This particular killer, Grimmel (F Murray Abraham), has it out for one species of dragon: Night Fury.
Hiccup believes Toothless is the last Night Fury left, but the discovery of a white female member of the species changes things.
Apart from being a fun, rip-roaring adventure, The Hidden World also hits on some universal themes like growing up, friendship, responsibility and tolerance.
The heart of this movie is the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless.
The human and dragon characters have great respect and love for each other, but need to move in different directions to progress.
Watching the characters emotionally mature and reach their potential is actually uplifting. They each have to make hard decisions and branch outside their comfort zones – something we can all relate to.
But possibly even more impressive is the stunning visuals. The beauty of the film is second to none.
Make sure you’ve seen the first two films before The Hidden World or you might get confused.