How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

 

starstar

 


The ‘final’ instalment in DreamWorks’ Dragon trilogy runs out of steam and wit.

   
How to Train Your Dragon - The Hidden World

 

 

Nobody could have foreseen the success of How to Train Your Dragon 2. Not only was it almost as breathtaking, engaging and funny as the first film, but it made $127 million more at the international box-office. Inevitably, then, the next instalment was likely to suffer from The Godfather Part III syndrome.

 

The real star of the franchise is the English cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose influence as visual consultant is felt in every frame. Of course, we have come to expect only the best from DreamWorks Animation and the attention to detail, from the giddying cloud effects to the simple sight of a dragon shaking itself free of sand, still has the power to amaze. Unfortunately, this time round the story leaves a lot to be desired and there’s a contempt of the familiar creeping in. Do we need more of the same? Not when it’s mere regurgitation.

 

The added ingredient here is romance, where Hiccup’s beloved dragon Toothless, a one-of-a-kind ‘night fury’, espies his opposite rummaging around in the undergrowth. She is an alabaster-white female – dubbed a ‘light fury’ by Hiccup’s human companion, Astrid – and the stage is set for an awkward mating ritual. More could have been made of this, as could the banter between Hiccup and Astrid, who are only just beginning to grow into their hormones. But the light fury turns out to be bait, a ruse by the wicked dragon slayer Grimmel the Grisly to terminate the species. So it’s love and death and also a mass migration for Hiccup and his fellow Vikings to find a new island big enough to accommodate all the dragons they have rescued, a land once talked of by Hiccup’s late father, Stoick the Vast.

 

One feels that much of the film is treading water as the plot kicks into gear, while Hiccup’s motley teenage associates, originally an amusing bunch, are now becoming tiresome. The fault lies in the lacklustre dialogue and a waning wit, so central to the first two films. Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) is still a winsome, kick-ass heroine (well, she would have to be, wouldn’t she?), while the all-American Hiccup (the Toronto-born Jay Baruchel) has evolved precious little as a character. The new member of the vocal line-up is F. Murray Abraham as Grimmel, but he’s a pantomime villain with little satirical bite. The rest is only so much noise, fighting and an over-zealous score by John Powell to plug in the gaps.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington, David Tennant, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.

 

Dir Dean DeBlois, Pro Bonnie Arnold and Brad Lewis, Screenplay Dean DeBlois, based on How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell Ph Gil Zimmerman, Pro Des Pierre-Olivier Vincent (aka ‘POV’), Ed John K. Carr, Music John Powell, Visual consultant Roger Deakins.

 

DreamWorks Animation-Universal Pictures.

104 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 1 February 2019. Cert. PG.