Originally published Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 07:30p.m.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is another magical romp through the land of Berk where dragons and humans peacefully co-exist under the reign of young dragon-whisperer, Hiccup. Fans of the previous Dragon installments will find this film as delightful as those before. The franchise has remained consistent with heartwarming storytelling, bold colors, sensational cinematography and fearlessness in facing death and dismemberment for lead characters. The “Hidden World” exploits the stereotype of millennials as ill-prepared to pivot and overcome threats to their existence and that growing up is hard to do when you are outgrown by your friend dragon.

Through the peace that Hiccup has brought between Dragon and human, Berk is now overrun with happy dragons and a booming human population. The older warriors want Hiccup to marry his childhood love, Astrid, and make a decision about the future of their village. While Hiccup takes their peace for granted, a villain, Grimmel, has his eye on eradicating the last Night Fury – Toothless – Hiccup’s bestie Dragon and King of the Dragons. Grimmel sends a female Dragon to woo Toothless and lead him to his demise.

The power of the Dragon franchise is that it is not afraid to let the characters grow up. Hiccup has stubble, Astrid has hips, the twins – Ruffnut and Tuffnut – are grown and enjoy a great deal of hilarious screen time; Snotlout (Jonah Hill) has a peach-fuzz moustache to accompany his Cougar-crush on Hiccup’s mom, Valka (Cate Blanchett), and there are tender flashbacks to Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) giving toddler-aged Hiccup words of wisdom on love and loss. The more humorous aspects of the film are enjoyed as Toothless tries to woo his lady love – the Light Fury – through dance and mating rituals gone wrong. The Light Fury is pretty awesome. She can disappear into her plasma blast and re-appear by reflecting light with her scales. Spoiler: She’s thoroughly unimpressed with Toothless.

Voice talent is retained from the previous films including Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, America Ferrera as Astrid, Cate Blanchett as Valka, Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast, Craig Ferguson as Gobber and Jonah Hill as Snotlout. New to the cast is Academy Award-winner, F. Murray Abraham, as Grimmel, a perfectly dastardly, imposing and entertaining villain in the vein of Cruella De Vil (“101 Dalmations”) and Jafar (“Aladdin”). Abraham relishes every fiendish word of his plan and old tricks that Hiccup underestimates.

“Hidden World” is a cartoon that refuses to engage in a cartoonish plot. Though simple, it is boldly and passionately executed. Hiccup must learn that his reign is not a one-hit-wonder. He secured peace but that peace must be maintained. Toothless literally spreads his wings to lead the Dragons to their Promised Land and Hiccup learns to sacrifice his plans for the greater needs of love in his life, in Toothless’s (try that tongue twister!) and ultimately for the Village. Toothless’s energetic pursuit of his lady love and his rightful place as Dragon King is a contrast to Hiccup’s bumbling shuffles in love and leadership.

Fans will find the ending satisfying, perhaps a tad sad but hope-filled for an even more creative sequel.

Family Audiences: 4 out of 5 Dragons