A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Christmas is about forgiving and thinking of others. Family, including nontraditional families, is one of the most important things in life.
Positive Role Models
Aydan is brave and kind to children and animals in need. She saves a wounded baby dragon even though a dragon killed her parents. Airk has stolen a magical orb from his father and loses it in a bet but later redeems himself, displaying bravery and loyalty.
Lots of important and strong women characters: Ayden leads her orphan group -- which includes Rosalynne and Hoyt -- and is joined by female elf Saerwen; Gazared is a bounty hunter with authority. Father Christmas is a respected elder who helps in a key moment. The orphans create their own supportive nontraditional family. Poor racial diversity, though: Cast is entirely White (including background characters in group scenes) except for a brown-skinned ogre with dreadlocked hair (Seante Williams), problematically represented as a big, scary threat.
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Violence & Scariness
Some serious violence: A fire-breathing dragon sets Ayden's parents on fire, making her an orphan. Poachers shoot a baby dragon and threaten to kill it. Bounty hunters try to sell children into indentured service. Lots of other adventure-based action doesn't lead to bloodshed or injury: Bandits and goblins chase children. A serpent tries to eat a child and overturns a rowboat. An ogre's rear end is set on fire, causing him to bump into a stone wall and knock himself out. Kids throw apples at their attackers, string them up in trees, and set angry bees upon them. Kids cause a brawl in a tavern to divert bounty hunters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple embrace and kiss, eventually marrying. Teens flirt and hug, nearly kissing.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An important scene occurs in a rowdy tavern.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Christmas Dragon is about medieval orphans, led by Ayden (Bailee Michelle Johnson), who are on a quest to find the magic that will revive a dying Father Christmas and the gift-oriented holiday that he and his elves preside over. Characters embrace, flirt, and kiss. Ayden's parents are burned to death by a fire-breathing dragon. Ruthless bounty hunters kidnap children and extort payments from law-abiding citizens. Kids scare bandits with Home Alone-style booby traps. A serpent attacks children in a rowboat, accompanied by Jaws-like music. An elf turns into a goblin and growls loudly. Younger kids might find the action scary. Women are strong and important, but the cast is entirely White, except for one brown-skinned ogre with dreadlocks who's represented problematically as a big, scary threat. 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 seems as if the plot of this film has been patched together from dozens of better fantasy and adventure movies. But the most formulaic moments from Tolkien, Harry Potter, and early Steven Spielberg still outclass the illogical and derivative mess the filmmakers have "achieved" here. And the film doesn't even try for historical accuracy: Medieval girls didn't wear pants as protagonist Ayden does, and characters use modern phrases like "welcome to the club." Some actors speak with English accents, some with Scottish burrs, some with American accents à la people from the San Fernando Valley.
Poor direction, writing, and acting are accompanied by other cinematic issues. Costumes for goblins look like they came straight from the musical Cats. The thousand-year-old Father Christmas' makeup can be seen flaking away in close-ups. A campfire burns brightly, deep within an unventilated cave, which ought to be filling with smoke, but the laws of physics were apparently suspended for the making of this film. And considering the title, dragons play a fairly small role in the story. There's plenty of action here (some that might scare younger kids), but the rest is dreadfully slow and cringey.
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.