How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019): ‘The End of the Dragons’ – A Film Review



DreamWorks‘ surprise hit How to Train Your Dragon managed to help define modern family films as part of the CGI fuelled fun. Further to its success, it has been developed into a TV series and now its own trilogy, which seems to conclude with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. The charm in the first film of creating a bond, like man with their animals, but with dragons, whilst centring on Vikings. In hindsight it was almost as if they were throwing ideas together of what fascinates people a lot. The second one successfully continued this magic but in many ways, it felt like a sequel. What has remained impressive is the animation style, the colours, the movements and development of each dragon as a character in themselves. The third looks to take all this success and finally call an end to it all. The end of an arc or perhaps even the end to this world?


Target Audience

First of all, we have many of the characters returning and the world still looks the part and it is all just as endearing as ever. Each dragon is harmless enough but still thrilling enough to be interesting to children. Their movements well-handled to convey their thoughts and feelings as if a loyal pet. The main issues are the simplicity of emotions and the narrative that flows through this film. It unfortunately feels like a confused and rushed plot, as difficult decisions are easily skimmed over, giving no proper development to plot or story. This could have been with the target audience in mind but it’s incredibly dumbed down and therefore fails to encapsulate.


The Villain

This also follows from a common problem with many contemporary films: the villain. Strangely enough this hasn’t been due to a reliance on making him a character without thinking of his dangers, but has instead been with his simplicity. Tension is built by his all-knowing and potentially challenging dialogue, which marks a good performance from F. Murray Abraham. However, when it comes down to his actual moments with the characters he either: holds back, gives simple responses to the point of Deux ex Machina, or plainly doesn’t deliver. It is a real shame because there is potential in both his character and the performance. The film decides to take a strange route with the narrative that seemingly backtracks over the previous films. Is the partnership between animal (dragon) and man right? They manage to avoid this getting in the way of the camaraderie between the characters, but it comes close.



All in all, this film is enjoyable and made with the kind of ideas that spawned the first but it tastes like a bitter after taste. It doesn’t feel like the filmmakers wanted it to happen and are in fact voting to kill off the franchise. It should be the position of going out with a bang but their efforts are more lazy than celebratory. It’s harmless and fun enough but an enormously basic and rather stale film.



Confronted with a Night Fury killer, Hiccup is faced with relocating his people and whether its right to keep a life with dragons.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

How to Train Your Dragon (d. Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders USA 2010)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (d. Dean DeBlois USA 2019)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with the Filmmakers

Interview with Dean DeBlois

Interview with Brad Lewis (Producer)

Behind the Mic

Easter Eggs

Audition Tape


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This was an analytical review of….

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (d. Dean DeBlois USA 2019)

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