The world has changed, and a year past the confrontation with Drago Bludvist and his Bewilderbeast the city of Berk has grown and thrived, a home to both Vikings and dragons living in harmony under the leadership of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and Toothless, his alpha Night Fury, but rather than having arrived at a position of stability the world continues to push forwards to an unknown future.
Hiccup and his comrades engaged in an ongoing campaign against the dragon trappers, appearing as ghosts in the mist to rescue captured dragons and return them to the haven of Berk, the city is close to capacity and Hiccup begins to feel it is time to seek a new home, his mind turning to the legends of the Hidden World where the dragons can be safe from those who see them only as animals.
His plans are accelerated when Berk becomes a target for the notorious and ruthless dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly who has sworn to capture the last Night Fury and use its power to control all the dragons he has not already conditioned to his will through injections of venom, and whether they are ready or not the Dragonriders of Berk must abandon their home on little more than the promise of a myth.
Inspired by the twelve-volume book series “translated from the old Norse” by Cressida Cowell, the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy arrives at its conclusion with the quest for the sanctuary of The Hidden World, a longer and more sombre journey than the previous adventures of Hiccup and Astrid and their friends, family and dragon steeds.
The lighting emphasising the twilight mood of this final chapter, again written and directed by Dean DeBlois, the world is a detailed living environment of wind and cloud, with textures of water and carved wood and wet paint where dragons are as real and important as friendship and honour.
The bond between Hiccup and Toothless having changed as they have grown up together, it is now complicated by the presence of an iridescent female Light Fury who has captivated Toothless, faithful to his rider but now flying unrestrained into a beautifully crafted wordless romance with his opposite and counterpart who is untrusting of humans.
The principal cast of the previous films returning to voice the Viking warriors, Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett and Craig Ferguson, even Gerard Butler in flashback as Hiccup’s father Stoick the Vast, they are joined by F Murray Abraham as Grimmel, a ridiculously accented villain of craft and stealth whose presence never seems to become as great a threat as is needed to carry the story.
The Hidden World less epic than its predecessor despite its vital position in the trilogy, it is still a satisfying and well-rounded conclusion which charts the changes of growing up and responsibility and the acceptance of such, while assuring that change does not necessarily mean an end, though it does often mean bravery and hard work.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is currently on general release