A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie promotes the idea of diplomacy rather than war and of overcoming self doubt to rise to occasions.
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. Additional themes include integrity and perseverance.
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Insults like "coward," "thief," "moron," and "useless."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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 (both of which were inspired by Cressida Cowell's books). 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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. How to Train Your Dragon 2 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.