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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragons: Race to the Edge precedes the tale told in How to Train Your Dragon 2, following Hiccup, Toothless, and their friends as they battle a vengeful villain and try to solve a mystery about dragons in the process. There are many close calls for the story's heroes and numerous points at which characters shoot arrows at or wield clubs against each other. These and other tense moments may upset young viewers, but tweens and even teens will enjoy the constant action and adventure. As Hiccup wrestles with the uncertainties of adulthood, viewers see how strong family connections and friendships help him find his place. As with every other installment in the Dragons franchise, this story celebrates not only human relationships but also the special bonds between people and their pets.
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What's the story?
DRAGONS: RACE TO THE EDGE is set between the stories of How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2, with the Riders crew edging toward adulthood and beginning to pursue their individual interests. With Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) headed off to the Berk Guard, Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) instructing the island's youngsters, Snotlout (Zack Pearlman) keeping busy in weapons manufacturing, and Teffnut (T.J. Miller) and Ruffnut (Andree Vermeulen) up to their usual antics, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is left to wonder where his destiny lies. But when Dagur the Deranged (David Faustino) escapes from Outcast Island and vows revenge on Hiccup, his friends and their dragons join his far-flung quest to capture his archenemy and make sense of the mysterious Dragon Eye they discover in the process.
Is it any good?
This is another exceptionally crafted and beautifully animated installment in the saga of Hiccup, Toothless, and their human and dragon friends. Faithful fans will find the time line somewhat disjointed, given that its story occurs prior to that of the 2014 movie sequel, but overall it's a welcome retrospective that offers further insight into Hiccup's transition to adulthood and his state of mind prior to his life-altering experiences in How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Even so, Dragons: Race to the Edge has a dark, slightly ominous tone that's a concern for younger viewers more accustomed to happy endings with their cartoons. Not only is there a complex mystery that's unraveled slowly, leaving many cliffhangers and tense moments, there's also a villain who's quite cruel and vindictive. The story isn't without its levity and comical mishaps, but it's geared more toward tweens who can handle its caliber of suspense.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why creators told this story out of order. If you've seen How to Train Your Dragon 2, is Dragons: Race to the Edge's impact lessened by knowing what comes later in Hiccup's life?
What makes Hiccup's relationship with Toothless so special? In what ways does it inspire the characters around them? Does a hero have to be someone famous, or can everyday actions make someone a hero?
Did the violent sequences surprise you in any way? Were any of them too scary for your liking?
What is this story's message about change? How do different characters react differently to growing up and accepting change? Can you relate to any of their experiences?
- Premiere date: June 26, 2015
- Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Zack Pearlman
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y7-FV
- Available on: DVD, Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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