How to Train your Dragon 2 is a sequel to the first How to Train your Dragon movie and is set five years later.
It opens with the Viking inhabitants of the Island of Berk engaged in their favourite contact sport – dragon rugby. The story’s lead character Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), who has now come of age, is betrothed to his childhood sweetheart, Astrid (voice of America Ferrera). Hiccup is also being groomed by his father, Stoick (voice of Gerard Butler), to become the Island of Berk’s next chieftain.
One day Hiccup and Astrid are out flying on their dragons and exploring new lands. They stumble upon the remains of a fortress encased in ice, the result of an attack by an unknown dragon rider. Hiccup and Astrid soon encounter the owner of the destroyed fortress, a dragon trapper named Eret (voice of Kit Harington). Unfortunately, Eret mistakenly believes that Hiccup is responsible for the destruction of his fortress and captures Hiccup, Astrid and their dragons.
During their captivity Hiccup and Astrid learn that a mad warlord named Drago Bludvist (voice of Djiman Hounsou) has enslaved an army of dragons. He intends to use the army to conquer the people and dragons of Berk. Hiccup and Astrid manage to escape and fly back to Berk to inform the Island inhabitants of the impending danger.
Hiccup believes he can reason with Drago and flies off to track down Drago and his dragon army. But before he can reach Drago, Hiccup is confronted by the dragon rider responsible for the attack on Eret’s fortress. The rider turns out to be Hiccup’s long-lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett). For the past 20 years Valka has devoted her life to rescuing dragons from Drago’s clutches. With Valka’s aid Hiccup must make a stand against Drago to protect both the inhabitants and dragons of Berk from enslavement.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Dragons; Vikings; warfare; death of a family member
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 contains more violence than the first movie. It is also darker in its themes. But it doesn’t show any blood and gore. Here are some examples of violence in this movie:
- The contact sport of dragon rugby involves teams riding recklessly. They toss sheep back and forth like footballs until they drop them into a crate to score points. No sheep are injured, and they don’t appear distressed. During the game riders knock each other off dragons using sledgehammer-like weapons.
- One scene shows a push and shove match between two Vikings, one shoving the other in the face.
- A dragon breathes fire onto the roof of a meeting hall crowded with Viking men. We hear that all but one man were killed, although we don’t see anyone die.
- One character has a sword hilt that lets off either flames or green smoke, which make people unconscious.
- In one scene dragon trappers shoot dragons with darts from blowpipes. These darts make the dragons unconscious.
- During a battle, thousands of Vikings in ships attack a small group of defenders on an island. The Vikings in ships shoot cannons at the island and fire giant crossbows. The attackers fire nets that entangle dragons, but other dragons breathe out fire that destroys the nets. There is a sword fight between two large Viking men. One punches the other in the head, knocking him to the ground. A woman attacks a man, and the man knocks her to the ground. In an emotional scene, a dragon threatens to breathe deadly vapour on a young man and his mother, but the young man’s father jumps into the path of vapour and is killed. In a later scene the dead father is laid out in a boat, which is floated onto the ocean and set alight with flaming arrows.
- Two gigantic dragons fight to the death, head-butting each other. One dragon uses its gigantic tusks to gore the other and kill it. The scene doesn’t show any blood and gore.
- In an emotional scene, a villain uses a dragon to control the mind of a second dragon and force it to attack its own rider. This results in the death of one of the movie’s leading characters.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The movie has many animated dragons, some of which might scare younger children. Some of them are gigantic with large sharp teeth, long claws, horned or spiked heads, spines along their backs and large wings. The dragons breathe fire, spit out blasts of energy or have icy breath that instantly freezes what it hits. Some of the dragons roar loudly.
- In several scenes a threatening dragon rider wears a mask edged with long tusk-like spikes. The dragon also wears a spiked face mask.
- A couple of the movie’s main characters have lost limbs. One character wears a mechanical leg while the other has a wooden peg leg. Another character has lost a hand and wears a variety of attachments that he attaches to the stump of his lower arm. In one scene a man removes an artificial arm, revealing a shoulder stump. The man says that he lost his arm in a fight with a dragon.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- In several scary scenes a dragon rider leaps from his dragon’s back in mid-air and freefalls until he spreads out his arms, revealing a squirrel suit. He then glides until he crash-lands into a snow bank. On one occasion, the dragon catches him before he crashes.
- A Viking man opens his shirt to reveal a scarred chest. He says he got the scar from being tortured by another man who was angry with him.
- A dragon trapper mistreats captured dragons. One dragon has a severed foot and another has been blinded by trappers.
- A dragon regurgitates a stomach full of fish. A younger dragon eats the regurgitated fish and then licks the ground.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes mentioned above.
Nothing of concern
How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a few sexual innuendoes. For example:
- A young woman who is infatuated with Eret ogles his body in several scenes and makes suggestive comments. Throughout the movie, two other young men compete for her attention. One of the men says, ‘But baby I grew facial hair for you’.
- After overhearing an argument between a married couple, a man says, ‘That’s why I never married. That and one other reason’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
How to Train Your Dragon 2 shows some use of substances. For example:
- One of the movie’s main characters uses a device that lets off green smoke, which makes its victims unconscious.
- Dragon trappers shoot dragons with darts from blowpipes. These darts make the dragons unconscious.
Nudity and sexual activity
How to Train Your Dragon 2 shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- After being reunited with his long-lost wife, a Viking man says, ‘You’re as beautiful as the day I last saw you’. He sings to his wife and touches her face. They hold hands, dance and kiss.
- Hiccup and Astrid kiss and hug in a couple of scenes.
None of concern
How to Train Your Dragon 2 has some name-calling and a few unfinished exclamations.
Ideas to discuss with your children
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an animated fantasy adventure targeted at older and adolescent children, but adults will probably like it too.
There is more violence than in the first How to Train Your Dragon. Children under seven years are likely to find some of the scenes and characters too disturbing, so it isn’t recommended for this age group. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 7-10 years.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- A leader’s responsibility is to protect both people and animals under his or her care.
- Good individuals, including dragons, can do bad things when influenced or forced by bad people.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:
- Diplomacy: Hiccup always looks for peaceful ways to solve conflict.
- Trust: the movie emphasises trust between humans and animals.
- Gender equality: the movie presents women and men as equally courageous.