The Hidden World concludes the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy with an action-packed adventure about Hiccup and Toothless taking on a ruthless dragon hunter. As a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, this set includes a gorgeous 4K HDR10 video presentation, a rumbling Dolby Atmos sound mix, and lots of special features. Highly Recommended for 4K, Dolby Atmos, and animation enthusiasts.
Years ago, the small, weakling son of a Viking chief learned how to train a dragon. Hiccup not only befriended a fearsome Night Fury named Toothless but also found a way to help men and dragons live in peace while rekindling a relationship with his estranged and brawny father. Later, when a madman tried to enslave all dragons so he could take over the world, Hiccup, Toothless, and their friends stopped him. Along the way, Hiccup found a mother and lost a father, and Toothless became the Alpha of all dragons.
Today, despite defeating the dragon hunters, more and more are still coming to capture dragons. Hiccup and crew fight back by rescuing dragons and bringing them home, but the village is now an overpopulated target for the hunters. Worse still, the dragon hunters team up with the Machiavellian Grimmel the Grisly, a dragon hunter who specializes in murdering Night Furies. Hiccup hopes to hide everyone in The Hidden World, a place where every dragon can finally be safe, but Grimmel has a trick up his sleeve -- a Light Fury female dragon he plans to use a bait to capture Toothless.
The Hidden World feels a bit more plotty than the first two Dragon movies -- always in motion with chases, rescues, fights, and escapes -- but there are two emotional stories at the core of this movie. First, Hiccup has started doubting his ability to lead his people and protect the dragons. And, Hiccup has to come to terms with Toothless falling in love, which means he might be better off away from Hiccup.
To me, after the first two films, which include growing and testing friendships as well as the love and death of parental figures, I had a harder time connecting with Hiccup's growing insecurities. In the first HTTYD, Hiccup's mindset and abilities were vastly different from the rest of the village, and that friction produced drama. Here, Hiccup's doubts are more internal, and I'm not sure if the filmmakers found the best way to dramatize his feelings. So, as Astrid helps Hiccup overcome his troubles, Hiccup's change feels a bit forced. (Perhaps Hiccup needed more conflict with a human character.) On the other hand, Hiccup's reluctance to lose Toothless, which I suppose we could argue ties into Hiccup's other issues, is more externally thematic and earnestly dramatized. In fact, the moment where Hiccup literally lets Toothless go is as harrowing as it is beautiful, and it's the moment that sold the movie to me.
In other words, I'm not sure if The Hidden World is as structurally tight as its predecessors, but I found it a fitting sequel regardless, especially when you factor in the gorgeous world-building, thrilling action set-pieces, and goofy characters. Simply put, the whole How to Train Your Dragon universe has always been beautiful, but the filmmakers have rendered the third and final chapter with astonishing imagery. From flaming swords and thunderstorm romance to luscious islands and The Hidden World itself, it's all eye-candy from start to finish. (It's no surprise Roger Deakins served as visual consultant.) The action too is creatively and clearly staged to build and release tension, making you sit up on your seat more and more as the movie builds towards its emotional climax.
The original Dragon is still my favorite, but the whole trilogy is an emotional wonder to behold from start to finish.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World flies onto 4K as part of a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital combo pack housed in a standard black case. The included digital copy unlocks 4K rights via Movies Anywhere (and is playable on various streaming services), but there doesn't appear to be a Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos option on streaming. There's also a code for a free Universal Studios movie (a small selection of classic titles and newer action movie sequels).
Best Buy SteelBook packaging is also available with the same discs HERE.
The Hidden World debuts on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a sumptuous 4K HDR10 video presentation courtesy of an HEVC encode framed with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
While the standard HD presentation is as perfect as any Blu-ray I've ever seen, this 4K HDR10 version is another step up in terms of fine detailing, pinpoint contrast, and eye-popping colors. Much like the standard Blu, the 4K Ultra HD is error-free. No macroblocking or crazy banding, even in the most complicated scenes or gradients. (Pay careful attention to the various smokey scenes or foggy sequences; the gradients are almost black and white in these moments.) Next, in comparing the details, both transfers are quite sharp, but there's more refinement in the 4K transfer despite its 2K source. Dragon scales and human hair and blowing grasses and individual grains of sand are all more realized here. (Seriously, pause this movie in the forests, the village of Berk, or in the Hidden World; there's so much to see in every frame.)
The HDR grading improves contrast, deepening black levels while avoiding crush, and also revealing more color and details within flaming swords, camp/village fires, and dragon breath. And, lastly, the wider color gamut also stands out, produce both more realistic and more vivid hues and tones.
How to Train Your Dragon 3 looks impressive no matter how you watch it, but this 4K HDR10 release is the superlative way to experience it.
The Hidden World soars on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (and Blu-ray) with a resplendent Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) sound mix that doesn't quite join the best mixes in the format's history, but non-the-less delivers tons of immersion, effects clarity, and rumbling LFE.
Animated films live and die by their sound mixes. Whole worlds spring up from the minds of filmmakers, and we are thrust into their universe, hearing and feeling along with the characters. For this movie, the dialog is crisp and well-placed in quiet and action sequences. John Powell's epic score emanates from every speaker, enveloping the audience from all around and above. Creature, location, and human sound effects are detailed and pan perfectly across the front soundstage as well as around the audience. (Check out the neat little moment where Toothless prances around the listeners.) I just wish a few more of these effects -- like flapping dragon wings -- went up and over our ears.
LFE fans should also enjoy this mix, as you can hear a rumbling fury in crackling fire, crashing thunder, dragon roars, and cascading waterfalls. (As a funny bass aside, I'm currently reviewing Klipsch's front-ported SPL-120 subs. Each time a character crossed the waterfall into The Hidden World, I could feel air moving across my legs, which was almost like a 4DX screening.)
Ultimately, The Hidden World boasts a killer Dolby Atmos mix sure to please fans and audiophiles; it's just not the best-of-the-best. Other audio options include Español 7.1 Dolby Audio (DD+), Français 7.1 Dolby Audio (DD+), and DVS (English Descriptive Video Service).
The Hidden World debuts on home video with a nice collection off bonus materials that are available on both the 4K disc and the standard Blu-ray.
The How to Train Your Dragon trilogy concludes with The Hidden World, a fitting sequel that blends together stunning & colorful world-building, creative action sequences, lots of light-hearted jokes, and an emotional conclusion. Personally, I find the first two films to be a little tighter, structurally, and a little more character-focused, but this film's third act really won me over. As a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, it boasts a colorful and contrasty 4K HDR10 video presentation (that bests its standard Blu-ray counterpart), an immersive and rumbling Dolby Atmos mix, and a ton of special features.
Highly Recommended for 4K, Dolby Atmos, and animation enthusiasts. Especially with Universal limiting its streaming version to 5.1 sound, this 4K release is the superlative way to experience the film.