How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review
By: Sydney Ho
Though it may not seem like it, I am the biggest fan of the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise. Okay, maybe not the biggest, but I have such a soft spot in my heart for those movies. Going to see “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” threw me right back into my childhood; the first one was released when I was seven years old! While I had some great company with me, I was honestly just so engrossed in this movie that it was almost a little difficult to remember that there were other people in the theater.
“HTTYD: The Hidden World” focuses on Hiccup and his limitless need to create a safe space for dragons to live. Now that he’s created a protected (and chaotic) utopia in which humans and their dragons can coexist, it seems that the island that they call home has only grown smaller and smaller. An unexpected appearance of a Light Fury (a new species that had not yet been encountered) and the threat of a ruthless dragon hunter causes all of Berk to uproot themselves from their island in search of a new home that was believed only to exist in childhood fairytales. This film’s clever mix of medieval setting and goofy humor creates a fantastical world that captures the attention of the viewer, regardless of their age. The characters hold onto their trademark personality traits without being redundant, altogether makes them more lovable and less copy-and-paste. For a long time fan of the series, it was the perfect dose of nostalgia; having seen the last movie five years ago, I was able to fall in love with the world of dragons again and not feel like it was one big recap of the last two movies.
What I really loved about this movie was that it allowed modern themes to be carried throughout the film without the plot and dialogue screaming, “Look at this movie! We empower women and represent the disabled! Our characters have flaws as well as virtues! Aren’t we such a good production team for doing that?” The problem with modern films is the need to showcase the fact that they cater to millennial ideals; HYTTD has no such issue. Astrid is confident, independent, and incredibly intelligent, not only inspiring little Sydney, but also every single young girl that goes to watch these movies. Hiccup, having to use a prosthetic leg in day-to-day life, is another role model for the youth; being portrayed as one of the strongest characters in the film, as well as being chief of Berk and the leader of his people, subtly dispels ableism (discrimination in favor of able-bodied people) in a way that children can understand.
I could list several other characters that do the same thing: Fishlegs’s caring nature towards his dragons renounces toxic masculinity, a flashback showing a mourning Stoick clashes with the strong and violent nature associated with Vikings (showcasing male vulnerability) and Valka (Hiccup’s mother) displays a duality that expresses both her caring, maternal side and the bravery of a warrior. The cast of characters as a whole represents a diverse array of personalities that gives them a deep level of relatability. I. Just. Love. Them.
In addition to the amazing characters, the visuals in this film were beyond spectacular. Attention to detail was obviously a priority, and it made every scene even more enjoyable to watch. I was actually overcome by emotion in certain scenes, just from the sheer beauty and color being projected onto the screen. While the animation style of the HTTYD movies isn’t exactly realistic, it’s a great blend of round, cartoonish features and high-definition landscapes. I found that their clever use of color and lighting evoked just the emotions in each scene. Even for someone who isn’t an expert on art technique and computer-generated imagery, this movie was just generally one of the most aesthetically pleasing animated films I’ve seen in a long time.
Watching this movie made me so incredibly emotional. My heart seemed to throb at every swell of the background music. Every time any character said anything, an inaudible “aw” passed through my mouth like they were my child, and I was an overly-supportive soccer mom. A highschooler being absolutely in love with an animated film meant for eight-year-olds is probably not the most common occurrence; that I’m well aware of. However, despite my unorthodox passion for this film, I would highly recommend going to see “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” in theaters while it’s still out. Whether you’re a longtime fan or looking for a fairly easy-to-watch film, I have no doubt that you will enjoy it.