How to Train Your Dragon 2 Movie Poster Image

How to Train Your Dragon 2

(i)

 

Epic, thrilling 3-D adventure sequel is outstanding.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: June 13, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie promotes the idea of diplomacy rather than war and of overcoming self doubt to rise to occasions.

Positive messages

Hiccup's actions prove that cooperation, diplomacy, and teamwork are better than animosity and war. The love and trust between Hiccup and Toothless is just as important as the love and trust between a parent and child. As in the first movie, there's also a strong message that girls and women like Valka, Astrid, and Ruffnut can be tough and fearless too. Even if they're in love, they don't need men to rescue them and are just as willing to help protect their people and dragons as the male Vikings.

Positive role models

Hiccup may not look as tough as other Vikings, but he's earned the respect of his chief/father and the citizens of Berk by being courageous, intelligent, and kind. He has leadership qualities, even if he doesn't show them at first. Astrid is a positive role model for girls: She's beautiful but tough and doesn't need to be saved. She challenges Hiccup, and they have a romantic relationship based on respect, not just attraction. Chief Stoick has mellowed out a lot since the first film, and he listens and is open minded this time around, even forgiving a long-held resentment. Hiccup's mother asks for forgiveness and wants to be a family again. Unfortunately, the villain is the only non-white character, though his ethnicity is ambiguous.

Violence & scariness

A major character dies by a dragon who's possessed by an evil alpha dragon. Although the Berk dragons are more like protectors and companions, the other dragons are still capable of harm, in particular the "dragon army" led by Drago Bludvist. The battle sequences between the "free" dragons and the dragon army may frighten younger viewers, especially when even Toothless turns while controlled by the alpha. A Viking funeral pyre is emotional to witness.

Sexy stuff

Now 20 and engaged, Hiccup and Astrid kiss and hug a few times. Both Fishlegs and Snotlout compete to pursue and prove with their worth to Ruffnut, who in turn has eyes only for Eret. Ruffnut makes comments about Eret's body and says suggestive things like "me likey" when she sees his biceps flexing or "take me" when she thinks he might capture her. There are close-ups of Eret's muscles as Ruffnut dazedly gazes at him. There's an emotional marital reunion and a lingering kiss and dance.

Language

Insults like "coward," "thief," "moron," and "useless."

Consumerism

There are plenty of How to Train Your Dragon tie-ins available, from video games and figurines to apparel to McDonald's Happy Meal toys.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a sequel to both 2010's How to Train Your Dragon and the popular Cartoon Network series. Like its big-screen predecessor, this is an epic 3-D adventure with dazzling visuals and gripping action sequences that will appeal to even older kids and teens. Very young fans may be upset by a significant character's death, the alpha-possession of the Berk dragons, the battles between the different groups of dragons, and several close calls for the story's protagonists. Expect more romance in this installment; it takes place five years after the first movie, which means the previously young-teen characters are now all around the marriageable age of 20 -- so it's no surprise there are a few suggestive jokes, especially with the addition of a hunky rogue. But thanks to its strong female characters, touching parent-child relationships, and positive messages about the bond between people and their animal companions, this is must-see for fans of the original and the show.

What's the story?

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 takes place five years after the events of How to Train Your Dragon: The citizens of the island of Berk fully accept, keep, and train dragons; Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his peers are now adults rather than teens (he's 20); and he and Astrid (America Ferrera) are engaged to be married. One day, while exploring new territories, Hiccup and his dragon bestie, Toothless, and Astrid and her dragon, Stormfly, discover both a fort covered in ice and, later, a dragon hunter named Eret (Kit Harington), who accuses them of being the "dragon rider" who's letting his dragon captives go. Hiccup and Astrid get away but soon discover that Eret's maniacal boss, Drago (Djimon Hounsou), plans to declare war on Berk and steal all of the island's dragons. Meanwhile, Hiccup makes an even bigger discovery: The "dragon rider" is actually none other than his presumed-dead mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), now a recluse who lives with dragons who are all commanded by a protective alpha. Against all odds, Hiccup and his crew must stand against Drago's army and hope their dragons can resist the pull of the bloodthirsty alpha dragon under the warmonger's control.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

It's rare to love a sequel as much as the original, but the filmmakers behind How to Train Your Dragon took their time and breathed magical fire into this follow-up. It's sure to please teens and adults as much as single-digit-aged fans. The multi-layered plot is rather sophisticated and has an almost Game of Thrones-lite sensibility (a comparison made even more obvious by the notable addition of Harington to the cast): No one is safe (even well-loved characters face danger and death); there's a massive David-and-Goliath fight sequence that very much echoes a trial by combat scenario, with the winner taking all of the dragons to his side; and the women are just as caught up in the high-stakes action as the men. Of course, the edgier themes and violence are still family friendly, but the movie does have an older target audience than pre-K-friendly animated films like Frozen or Ice Age.

Everything that made the first film so great -- fabulous use of 3-D-, gorgeous visuals, strong parent-child dynamics, romance, and humor -- are all alive and well in the sequel, as is the touching addition of a mother-son subplot and an actual villain in the form of Drago (a scary-sounding Hounsou). There's a lot going on, but it's remarkably compelling and emotional, as well as funny and a blast to watch. Hiccup may have been the voice of reason in the first movie, but in the second he's the one who needs to learn a thing or two; he doesn't have it all figured out, and that makes him even more endearing. There's already a third movie in the works, and now it seems likely that director Dean DeBlois can make it stellar enough to join the ranks of Toy Story and Shrek as unforgettable animated franchises.

 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about sequels -- and how hard it is for follow-up films to be as good as the originals. Do you think How to Train Your Dragon 2 does the job? What are some other sequels that lived up to the first film's legacy?

  • Hiccup has a complicated relationship with each of his parents. How does this movie explore parent-adult child relationships?

  • How are romantic relationships depicted in the film? How do Hiccup and Astrid compare to other couples in animated films?

  • What did you think of the use of 3-D in the movie, especially in the dragon scenes? How did it compare to other 3-D movies? Was anything too scary?

  • Are the female characters in this movie role models? Why? How do they compare to girls and women in other kids' movies (both animated and live action)?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 13, 2014
DVD release date:November 11, 2014
Cast:Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig, America Ferrera
Director:Dean DeBlois
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Character strengths:Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:adventure action and some mild rude humor
Awards/Honors:Golden Globe

This review of How to Train Your Dragon 2 was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5, 11, 12, and 15 year old Written bystarchurch June 11, 2014
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 4, 9, and 12 year old Written byDadOThree June 17, 2014

Great with a couple of blemishes

Great movie for the most part. I enjoyed it as did my two boys. Nothing earth shaking but it hits the right emotionally chords and chuckles. The issues for children are Hiccup's mother who apparently prefers Dragons over being with her own child and a couple of completely unnecessary sexually tinged moments. The "coming out" of one Viking character, although much talked about, had no use in the story other than to antagonize the religious right and a couple of lustful looks from one character to another don't belong in a movie for a pre-teen audience. Neither one advances the story so these moments are either poor attempts at adult humor or just bad judgement by the producers and director.
Parent of an infant, 4, and 8 year old Written bykkg0909 July 29, 2014

Too mature for children

The first How to Train Your Dragon is one of my family's favorite movies. It was the first movie we owned and watched on Blu-ray and it was absolutely stunning! So I was excited to take my daughters, aged 8 and 4, to see the second one. If I had gone and watched it ahead of time, they would not have been allowed to see it. While there are some scary and sad parts (Toothless is forced to attack Hiccup and a beloved character dies), my issue is with the sexual stuff. Clearly the characters we love from the first movie have grown up and are dealing with issues of love and attraction. Ruffnut, in particular, is way over the top in terms of what she says with regard to how Eret looks and her attraction to him. She yells "Take me!" at one point, says "Me likey!" and there are numerous close-ups of his rippling muscles. I know that it is all for laughs and is done in a humorous way, however, I'm not comfortable with it for my children. I wish that I had watched this movie first and I think I'm going to have to do that in the future. I just don't think that young children should begin to think of these things before they are mature enough. It just isn't cool when my 4-year-old is yelling "Take me!" in the backseat of the van. I am very disappointed that this isn't a movie I can enjoy with my children like the first one. Is the animation beautiful? Absolutely! Is the story interesting? Yes! This is a worthy successor to the first film in terms of those things. It is just more suited for older children.
What other families should know
Too much sex

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