Dragon Rider is an animated movie based on the book by Cornelia Funke. Firedrake (voice of Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is a young, silver dragon who lives in a forest with his family. The forest is rapidly being destroyed by humans, whom the dragons see as their enemy. Firedrake is sad about his future. He sets out with his forest brownie friend, Sorrell (Felicity Jones), to find the Rim of Heaven, a legendary paradise for dragons.
On their journey they meet Ben (Freddie Highmore), an orphaned boy who once appeared in movies riding a dragon. Firedrake is certain Ben must be the famed dragon rider and insists he comes with them on their adventure, much to Sorrell’s displeasure.
Along the way Firedrake, Sorrell and Ben meet many perils, including a fearsome djinn with a thousand eyes. The djinn will answer their questions only if they can follow its rules – or woe betide them.
The group’s main enemy, however, is Nettlebrand (Patrick Stewart), a monstrous lion-type creature who loves to devour dragons. Nettlebrand and his sidekick, Twinkles, chase Firedrake and his friends across the world to the Himalayas, where there’s a final confrontation.
Fantasy; mythical creatures
Dragon Rider has some violence. For example:
- The movie begins with a story about a battle between humans and dragons. Background animations show humans throwing swords and axes and a dragon putting a human into its mouth.
- Firedrake falls off a cliff while watching a meeting of the dragon elders.
- Sorrell attacks Ben and throws him over a cliff, hoping to get rid of him.
- A large, aggressive turkey attacks Ben. Sorrel fights it off. Someone called Professor Barnabas Greenbloom arrives and stuns the turkey. He ties it up and loads it into his truck.
- A huge sea serpent rises out of the sea, opens its mouth really wide, and nearly eats Firedrake.
- A large eagle grabs Sorrell and flies off with her to its eyrie.
- The djinn attacks the three friends with laser fire. Nettlebrand arrives and fights the djinn. This causes a huge rock to fall on the Djinn.
- Nettlebrand squashes a dwarf with his tail.
- Firedrake and Nettlebrand fight. Firedrake is no match for Nettlebrand, who flicks him away with his tail. Nettlebrand squashes Firedrake with his paw, picks him up to eat him and grabs Ben in the other hand. Firedrake summons all his courage and breathes blue smoke on Nettlebrand. Nettlebrand melts into a pool of gold.
Dragon Rider has some sexual references. For example, in a comic scene, Twinkles tries to arrange a date for Nettlebrand on the internet.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Dragon Rider shows some use of substances. For example, the djinn seems to hypnotise Ben and puts him into a strange trance. Ben appears happy and lightheaded, as if he has taken drugs.
Nudity and sexual activity
Dragon Rider has some mild coarse language and name-calling, including ‘lame flame’, ‘idiot’, ‘freak’ and ‘I’ll be damned’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Dragon Rider is an animated adventure that touches lightly on themes of forest conservation and animal habitats. The movie is fast paced and quite intense in places. Because of this and its scary creatures, this movie isn’t suitable for children under six years. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 6-8 years.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- Believe in yourself.
- Not all humans are bad.
- Good triumphs over evil.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include bravery, courage, determination, persistence, redemption, forgiveness, and female strength and intelligence.
This movie could also give the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like why Ben needs to steal a necklace. Is it a good thing that he returns it to the shopkeeper?