How to Train Your Dragon 2

  • Review Date: June 13, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Common Sense Media says

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

Age

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11
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17

Quality(i)

 
Golden Globe

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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, which is 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
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:adventure action and some mild rude humor
Award:Golden Globe

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

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall 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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Written byAnonymous September 16, 2014
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Much improved sequel has fire breathing dragons and intense moments

My rating:PG for violence,scary images,language and rude humor
Parent Written byZepcreed July 12, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

WAY Too Dark for Young kids

Too Deep foe a Kids Movie: (Spoiler Alert) My teenage daughter had a date at the bowling alley yesterday. It was really hot and rainy (As Florida always is in July) so my husband and I decided to take our little one to the movies to see "How to Train Your Dragon 2". We loved the first movie and my daughter follows the cartoon series on TV. How was I to know that taking my little one to the movies was going to end with me consoling her, wiping her tears and the having to explain why they Set The Body of the Slain Father ON FIRE! Yes, that is actually what happened. The movie was great, the plot was fantastic, the animation was amazing. I heard about the little twist that Craig Ferguson added to make his character Gobber possibly gay. I wasn't upset with that at all - even if that is what was intended, It was a stretch for the kids to catch on. Here's the problem: The tears started when the Alpha King Dragon was killed. It wasn't very graphic, but you got the idea by watching the characters wince. So at that point, my 7 year old started to tear up. It was important to the story because this is why all the "Good Dragons" start to Obey and become mind controlled by the Bad "Alpha King", who is being controlled by the Villain, Drago Bludvist. Toothless becomes controlled by the alpha king, who is being controlled by Drago Bludvist. They collectively order Toothless to attack Hiccup, and when Toothless strikes his fierce ball of blue fire....his Father Chief Stoick jumps in front to protect his son. Hiccups mother checks for a heart beat and realizes he is dead. This scene drags on for quite a while, which felt unnecessary. Now this next scene is where they went Too Far: After some kind words of prayer, Hiccup Shoots a flaming arrow, which ignites the covered body of his father, with the Chiefs Viking Helmet at the top. Then everyone else shoots their arrow and the covered body becomes engulfed. Let me remind you that this is a Children's MOVIE. I am not a pretentious overbearing parent. But this was way to heavy for a Friday Afternoon PG Movie. Setting the beloved fathers Body on fire! Really? I understand that this is how the Vikings (and many other cultures) treat their dead. But I OBVIOUSLY did not bring my daughter to this movie about Dragons for an accurate History Lesson. Having to explain to my 7 year old why they set the beloved fathers dead body on FIRE was just not something I planned on doing during a children's movie. I thought Dreamworks was better than that. It's not a secret how much money it takes to make these films. But I believe they are trying to lure more adults into the target audience which is and should be intended for children. Don't they have focus groups? If so, was their ONE Child there? Or ONE Parent? The creators of these films and other films alike are some of our generations most creative people. I'm sure they could have found another way of expressing grief or loss that wasn't so graphic. So this is how I have learned my lesson. Now I know I have to Read Every Review before bringing my child to even a mainstream PG Movie. There will be no more surprises for me, since I will know every plot twist, Sad moment or graphic detail....but that's the price I pay for not having to subject my daughter through something this graphic again.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 5, 11, 12, and 15 year old Written bystarchurch June 11, 2014
AGE
2
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of an infant, 2, and 4 year old Written by3mommy3 June 24, 2014
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

Sad, Scary

We were so excited to see this movie. My son (4) just loved the first one. His sister (2) liked it too. We were disappointed as this movie is very intense and sad. My son cried very hard twice during the movie - once during the fighting scene because he was scared. The scenes aren't graphic, but the music and emotion behind them is very strong. He cried again very hard when a main character dies. SPOILER ALERT BELOW! SPOILER ALERT BELOW! My son said he never wants to see this movie again because he was too scared and too sad. Afterwards my husband and I discussed the movie. I even noted that had I read the common sense media review, I probably still would have taken him to see the movie because he loved the first one so much and was very excited to see the second. However, I sort of wish we we have rented it. I think in a setting at home, I could have helped my son deal with his emotions better than in a crowded movie theater. Ultimately, if you have sensitive child this would be one to pass on until you can rent it. We took our 2 year old too. She did just fine, but I think she's too young to get the emotion of the scenes. It is shocking and horribly sad when Toothless kills Stoic (Hiccup's dad) while under mind control. I'm not sure why this tragedy had to occur in the movie. I even cried it was so sad!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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