DreamWorks Animation has been creating some impressive franchises over the years: Shrek, Madagascar, Kung-Fu Panda have all been well received and loved by many a family household, but it is the latest How to Train Your Dragon film that I am looking forward to more than any of the aforementioned titles.
Having repeatedly revisited the previous films and the subsequent spin-off TV series, as well as some of the books, I find that I am inadvertently quite well versed in Berk mythology and its characters.
Being the last film in the trilogy of incredibly successful films, both financially and critically, The Hidden World will hopefully bring to a close the stories of Hiccup, Toothless and his band of merry dragon-riding buddies in a continuance of the great style and first-rate work across the board that has already been seen. Having already managed to elicit a great deal of emotion in the previous film, I have no doubt that this one will also manage to push all the right buttons when it needs to, and end in the right way.
The all-star voice cast of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kit Harrington, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller and Kristen Wiig reprise their familiar roles with the addition of F. Murray Abrahams this time around as Grimmel, the film’s antagonist. Continuity is a big thing here alongside the need for sufficiently high production value to stop these sequels becoming straight-to-DVD fodder. So far, the films and spin-off series all retain this high standard throughout, and The Hidden World will be no different.
Watching Hiccup and his gang grow up, from young adolescent vikings through confident teenagers and, lastly, into the adults that they have become, means being part of their upbringing and creating a connection to them that is something far more special than an animated film has any right to be. And with Hiccup being anything but a standard viking from the start, the audience has next to no idea what he is going to do and, as the new chief, what direction he will lead his clan.
“We thought about it for a long time and came up with what we think is a bittersweet way to say goodbye to these characters, but the right way”.
– Director Dean DeBlois
From the clips and information released so far, this will be a fitting finale to a fantastical, emotional but ultimately loveable series, packed full of wonderful characters, both human and dragon alike. But also one that will manage to remain grounded in dealing with real world issues of family, expectations and acceptance for who you are.