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Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Animated feature film

Movie Review

How to Train Your Dragon 2

MPAA Rating: PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids (8 and up) Teens Adults
Genre:
Animation Action Adventure Fantasy Comedy IMAX 3D Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2014
USA Release:
June 13, 2014 (wide—4,100+ theaters)
October 21, 2014 (Digital HD)
November 11, 2014 (DVD)
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • the maturation process of becoming a man, rather than just a boy
  • the importance of conquering fear and anxiety
  • What does the Bible say about disobedience, disobeying father, rebelliousness?
  • sin
  • Many of the real Vikings of old, became followers of Jesus Christ.
  • growing up having never known your mother
  • the pain of having a parent/spouse die
  • Is it true that people are not capable of changing, as Valka states?
Dragons

Dragons and dinosaurs—discover how they are connected

Dragons in the Bible

Are dinosaurs mentioned in the BIBLE? Answer

The Great Dinosaur Mystery On-line
Visit our dinosaur-size Web site where you’ll discover a mountain of knowledge and amazing discoveries. How do dinosaurs fit into the Bible? You’ll find the answer to this and many more of your questions. Play games, browse and learn. Includes many helps for teachers and parents.

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring: Jonah HillSnotlout (voice)
Gerard ButlerStoick the Vast (voice)
Kristen WiigRuffnut (voice)
Kit Harington … Eret, Son of Eret (voice)
Cate BlanchettValka (voice)
Jay BaruchelHiccup (voice)
America FerreraAstrid (voice)
Christopher Mintz-PlasseFishlegs (voice)
Djimon HounsouDrago Bludvist (voice)
T.J. Miller … Tuffnut (voice)
Craig Ferguson … Gobber (voice)
Andrew Ableson … Ug (voice)
Director: Dean DeBlois
Producer: DreamWorks Animation
Mad Hatter Entertainment
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Prequel: “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010)

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” takes place five years after the events of the first film. The village of Berk has thrived. Man and dragon are no longer mortal enemies. The villagers have become accustomed to having dragons around and ride them often, participating in various games and activities together.

A lot has changed, including our hero Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). After his victory in the first movie, Hiccup now spends his days mapping the land masses and finding the locations of new dragon nests. While exploring a new territory with his previous enemy turned girlfriend, Astrid (America Ferrera), and his dragon Toothless, he comes across some wreckage and mercenaries who attempt to shoot nets and capture the dragons. When Hiccup confronts them about this, he is told that a man, named Drago (Djimon Hounsou), has hired them to capture dragons and build a dragon army. Drago’s plan? To conquer and rule the surrounding lands by commanding his dragon army (he does this by befriending the dragons).

It’s up to Hiccup, Astrid, and all the Vikings to stop Drago before it’s too late.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” is one of those rare sequels that actually works. With animation (and pretty much any genre of film for that matter), filmmakers attempt to make a sequel, usually due to the success of the first film, and during that attempt the qualities and values that made the first film a spectacle are lost in the translation. Additionally, inappropriate humor and other unsuitable elements are added to bring in a larger audience. To me, this is due to a lack of listening on the filmmakers’ part to avid movie-goers. Bigger does not always mean “better.”

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” is different though. While it is apparent that certain elements in the film that might concern parents are increased (like the violence), other elements like the story (including the scene where Hiccup meets his mother) and the character development are also built up for this sequel—which made it much more enjoyable for me.

The Good

  • Story and Character Development: While “How to Train Your Dragon” 1 had a solid story, I felt the story for its sequel was much, much stronger. There were moments where I literally forgot I was in a movie theater… at a kid-targeted animated feature. I had no questions about what I had watched. Concerning Character Development, I related, understood and sympathized with each main character more than I did in the first. I understood Hiccup better and his search for meaning in his life, I understood the heartache Hiccup’s mother had regarding the circumstances of her disappearance

  • Animation: Before I viewed the film, I was given information that Dreamworks, one of the best U.S. animation studios, had created “…Dragon 2” using a new program called Apollo. In short, Apollo was used as a means of making the characters more life-like (animators were able to “get rid of the loose skin) by being able to use a stylus to create their characters rather than the click of the mouse. The detailing of each character, dragon, and land mass are more refined than in the first film. As a viewer, I preferred this form of updated animation, compared to the first film.

  • Familiarity: As I said in the beginning, I really appreciated the fact that the people at Dreamworks did not “fix what wasn’t broken.” Instead, they took the good things they had in the first film (the silliness and mood from the characters, good action sequences, beautiful scenery, etc.) and continued to develop and improve them. Bravo!

The Bad

  • As I walked out of the theater, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Wow, this movie certainly had more dark moments than the first!” While “…Dragon 2” had a lot of good, fun, spirited and uplifting scenes, I felt that, for a children’s movie, this sequel has quite a few dark moments (most of this comes in the form of violence, which I will get to later).

Objectionable Content

Violence: Heavy. In the beginning, we witness forms of slapstick humor during the great dragon races (including riders bumping into each other on purpose). There is a scene where Hiccup, in an attempt to use his new paragliding suit, almost hits a giant boulder and crashes to the ground. There is also a scene where Hiccup is abducted off Toothless, and Toothless falls into the water, struggling to get out and at first, he starts to drown. There is an extensive battle sequence, toward the end of the movie, where we see dragons attacking other dragons (with riders on them), ground explosions, and dragons (under the control of the Alpha Dragon and Drago) attacking Hiccup and his friends, leading to a scene where a main character is killed by a dragon.

Drago mistreats everyone, including those who work for him, and can be seen choking people, slapping them in the head, and threatens. There is also a scene, during a flashback, where Drago, during a meeting of the chieftains, sends his swarm of dragons to burn everyone in the building—except for Stoick (Gerard Butler), the chief of Berk.

In another flashback, we watch as Hiccup’s mom, Valka (Cate Blanchett), tells the tale regarding her disappearance, which occurs during a malicious dragon attack on Berk, and we watch the destruction the dragons create (including the burning of buildings). There are also some staff and sword fights between characters and a scene where Astrid jokingly tells her dragon to drop a mercenary, Eret, into the water as they are flying (she goes back for him, of course, before he strikes the water).

Profanity: Mild. Bad languages includes, but is not limited to, the phrases “oh my gods,” “soil my britches,” “moron” and other forms of name calling.

Sex/Nudity: Mild. Astrid and Hiccup share a couple kisses (one where Astrid tastes spit from Toothless licking Hiccup earlier). Stoick and Valka share a passionate kiss.

Other Content for Concern: As I’ve said, there is a darker feel in some parts of this sequel. Some younger children may be terrified by the main villain, Drago, his appearance (including a missing arm) and his misuse of the dragons. Some children may also be terrified by the appearances of both of the alpha dragons (especially during their battle sequence).

Morals/Issues

In this second film, we watch as Hiccup struggles to determine who he is and what his purpose is. His father, Stoick, wishes for Hiccup to grow up and become Chief of Berk, but Hiccup states that being Chief is not something he feels he would ever be good at. He later realizes that his love of dragons and his destiny to become the chief will be what saves the people of Berk and brings peace to all the lands.

As Christians, God will call upon us to rise and conquer our fears, driving us out of comfort zone so that we may be used for His honor and glory. When we are called to this, God asks us not to hesitate. When He calls, we are asked to stand with Him and build His kingdom. This may come in the most unexpected way, but if we trust God and rely on Him, the Lord can make the impossible possible.

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Final Thoughts

Shortly after watching “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” I went to visit my family. One of my family members asked me, “How was ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’? Would you recommend it?” I hesitated. While there is clearly a significant improvement with “…Dragon 2,” there is also content to be more cautious about (more violence and a little darker feel at times). Is this movie appropriate for children? If you mean anyone younger than age 8, I would say no, because of the violent content. For older children, teens, and adults, I would definitely recommend “How To Train Your Dragon 2” for viewing. My final grade: B+

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: none, except “Oh my gods” / Sex/Nudity: Mild—kisses and one mild comment

Gobber. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.Editor’s Note: This is a very minor point in the movie, but perhaps should be mentioned. In a quick scene, Gobber the Belch very subtly comes “out of the closet” (hinted at, not explicit), becoming Berk’s resident Gay. This was intentionally included by Dean DeBlois, the movie’s openly homosexual director and writer, who told Fox News, “It’s progressive, it’s honest, and it feels good… It does make for an interesting revelation because now, what does that mean, do we shed a little more light on Gobber’s love life?” The first major animated feature film to introduce a homosexual character, to our knowledge, was Focus Features’ “ParaNorman” (2012). [About homosexuality, see: What about gays needs to change? Answer]


dragons and dinosaurs—discover how they are connected

dragons in the Bible

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—First off, this is an amazing movie. The effort that has been put into making it is clearly seen. This is not necessarily a good movie for young children though. Having researched about this film beforehand, I knew it was going to take a more serious turn than the first film. But I do think that teenagers and adults will enjoy this film probably more than the first one and more than most animated movies around today. It’s not as shallow as most films. There were also some excellent lessons and moments to learn from.

Someone has commented about the reference to Norse gods, but even though the way they say some things is frustrating, it doesn’t really bother me when they talk about it in general. Why? Because this is a sequel to a movie about dragons and Vikings! If you know this beforehand, you should actually expect to have references to Viking gods/mythology. That’s the belief Vikings lived with. And it isn’t used all that often and not in your face type stuff.

Objectionable content: The main thing I found objectionable was Ruffnut’s instant obsession-like interest in Eret. Was just weird more than anything. The close-ups on Eret’s arm muscles were not needed. I have a feeling the animators just wanted an excuse to show off the new realistic animation. And the animation is truly incredible.

The only other thing was a few times the characters would start saying a possibly objectionable phrase but the last part would be cut off or changed. I can’t think of anything else offensive, but I do want to point out that there is a fair amount of violence (although a lot is implied violence) in this film. No blood, but it’s not your average kids animation. It’s more like a real-life action adventure film. There are scary moments and characters to fear.

But if you do happen to bring the kids along, there is plenty of cute and hilarious moments to keep them entertained. They have done a good job in balancing the scary stuff out with the humor throughout the film. I didn’t feel the humor to be ill-timed, and it came in at appropriate moments without taking away the emotion. The young ones in the cinema all seemed to have loved it, but I’d still recommend not taking under 12 year olds.

Overall, this is a well-made, emotionally packed, and amazing movie, and I would pay to see it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lily, age 18 (USA)
Positive— This sequel to the 2010 “How to Train Your Dragon” is a fun and exciting computer-animated family flick that touches on some important themes such as the value of friendship, the importance of standing up for what’s right, and the power of a family who works together. In addition, this second Dragon film has brought us yet another beautiful soundtrack and some more absolutely stunning animation. From a family-friendly perspective, some of the battle sequences could be frightening for young children. Although completely clean of blood and gore, there are still some scary monsters and bad guys as well as a few sad moments involving the death of a well-loved character.

Additionally, there are some sequences throughout the film consisting of dragons and Vikings falling through the air that can be intense at times. A few hints at profanity, although minor, also present a bit of an issue. However, most of these consist of phrases such as “soil my britches” and “gods help us all.” The phrases in the film that would have been actually offensive are tactfully cut short to exclude the expletive and are, therefore, easy to dismiss as a non-issue. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Leah Hickman, age 19 (USA)
Positive—…much more lessons than your soul can take it. The father’s love for his own son to the point of giving up his own life … a movie for older kids, not because of the violence, but because it’s emotionally very intense. Teaches us about forgiveness and how we can sometimes do evil, but we have the power to conquer, if we fight back.

For those complaining about the kisses—actually one kiss at the end—between Hiccups and Astrid, right at the beginning Hiccup’s father says about Astrid “that’s my daughter-in-law”. My kids understood very well that they kissed each other because they are married. As Hiccup’s parents kissed each other, too. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Fernanda, age 40 (USA)
Positive—Just so FERNANDA knows, Hiccup and Astrid are NOT married. Stoick said “That’s my future daughter in law!” not “That’s my daughter in law.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nathaniel, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. I came to this site after viewing it, without intending to write a review. I was hopeful that I would come across some reviews about certain positive parts of the movie that I really thought people would mention.

However, I didn’t see anyone mention the one thing I thought was important, so I decided to write a review. I really thought I’d see more reviews about the positive representation of family in this film, and especially the positive representation of marriage that is presented. Amid a sea of clichéd rom-coms that miss the point, and young adult material that glorifies unhealthy, abusive relationships, there is a serious need for positive, realistic views of relationships.

***SPOILER*** I kind of want to expound and rant a little, so lots of spoilers, go see this beautiful movie for yourself first, then read this, so you can really appreciate this scene for its surprise and beauty. / The relationship between Stoick and Valka is so positive. When he first meets her, again, after twenty years apart he doesn’t yell, or rant, or ask her how she could have done this, or anything along that line. Valka expects him to though, and she defends herself accordingly, but she doesn’t really need to, because Stoick forgives her. He’s just so pleased that Valka’s still alive when he’d never thought he’d ever see her again, that all he can do is say that she’s still as beautiful as the day he lost her and kiss her. I liked the realism of them, because they don’t just magically mesh all of a sudden after the scene cuts. There’s awkwardness there, Valka doesn’t know how to respond to Stoick, to a husband, because she’s been without one for so long. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ericka, age 19 (USA)
Positive—“How to Train Your Dragon 2” is quite likely the finest animated movie I have seen, easily the equal of any Pixar story if not superior. The animation is first rate and incredibly beautiful. The story is well written and (contrary to what you may have read elsewhere) absolutely encouraging, even celebratory, of the love that can exist between a husband and wife.

Discussing How to Train Your Dragon afterward with my 14 year old son, he said that he liked how the adults were not shown to be “stupid adults” who needed their wiser children to rescue them. Stoick, Gobber, Valka and the other adults are shown as normal people with normal faults, doing their best to do well despite their faults. This goes for the young characters also; they are not shown as know-it-alls but as maturing children coming into their own.

If you enjoyed the first How to Train Your Dragon you will thoroughly love “How to Train Your Dragon 2;” it surpasses the original. It is a spectacular work of art and a well told tale.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Peter Rhebergen, age 53 (Canada)
Positive—“How to Train Your Dragon 2” was a fun movie for me. I was annoyed with the Odin references, but at the same time, Vikings believed in these deities; to portray vikings as church-goers would be historically deceitful. I was not bothered by Hiccup and Astrid’s kissing since they clearly did not engage in fornication; the crush on Eret was more annoying but it felt more cartoony than lustful. The violence and hypnosis were intense, but it was “Good vs. Evil” and what was bad was portrayed as such. All I see in the negative comments are the slander and self-righteousness of the Pharisees.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Peter, age 24 (USA)
Positive—Okay, first and foremost this was an excellent movie great story amazing animation.

Secondly, I highly disagree with the person who wrote the review on this movie. I am sorry, but kissing is not sex nor is it a form of sex; it is a form of passion and emotions towards one person. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John Strandberg, age 25 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I did see the first one and it was cute, as well as this one had some cute parts, especially the main dragon, acts more like a dog. However, this one was even more questionable then the first one. This one had a lot more violence, a lot more evil type creatures/dragons and evil characters. I would never want a young child to see this movie, it would just be too creepy. The huge dragons that show up near the end would be very scary for kids.

They also refer to “the gods” a few times. Of course the relationships between the characters were cute. They did have one of the characters that was more like a teenager, had this major sensual crush on one of the other characters. It was way over the top and completely not needed. Then the “powers” of the head dragon would take over the others like they were in trance, and the nice dragon did some evil things. It did have some weird parts like that. So that is the frustration with Hollywood, they just can’t make movies without that stuff. I certainly did not like this one as much as the first, it had way too many of the above things in it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stephanie Smith, age 39 (USA)
Neutral—I just wanted to say that I watched the movie and had no idea that a character “came out”. Once I read that here, it actually took me a moment to file through the movie in my mind and pinpoint the moment they must be talking about. The character says something like “This is why I never got married. This and one other thing.” And then they just kind of move on. I do remember thinking for a moment that it was an odd line, but never made the connection. So, as a parent, watching the movie, I did/do not fear my children figuring that out either.

It is dark, as others have mentioned, but they do keep the music light and in a more happy tone, so I did not fine it that intense. I’m sure some sensitive younger children could be upset by it, but mine (5 and 7) weren’t.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality:
—Jennifer, age 33 (USA)
Negative
Negative—First, right off the bat, they take the Lord’s name in vain 2 or 3 times by saying “Oh my g%$'s.” This is an immediate red flag, and to understand how serious this is, remember from what you read in your Bible, God has said, “No blasphemer will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.” In the OT it says that a blasphemer is to be put to death. Okay, so for both old and new, Hell awaits the unsaved blasphemer. If you want to teach your kids that it’s okay to blaspheme God’s name, then take them to extremely subtle movies like this. I often say that you shouldn’t do what you tell your kids are bad.

Secondly, there was a lot of violence, and it was a very dark movie. I know dragons are used as weapons, but there is lots of murder going on. I’ll tell you if you watch this movie, and have never thought about these things, you will stand for this movie, because it was amazingly written, and it makes people sitting next to you cry. A lot! It very much jerks your emotions, and I felt all kinds of them. I immediately felt dead to the movie as soon as I noticed myself feeling bottled up rage, and absolute hatred for the antagonist. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jordan Parks, age 24 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I am a huge fan of Dragons. I have watched the first movie along with all of the shorts and all the seasons of “Riders of Berk.” Let me tell you right off the bat that, according to me, these are the best animated stuff ever made, and along with a really good message, it really is a refreshing break from so much other junk that comes out these days. I have been excited for about six months for “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” And after seeing it 4 days after it premiered, I was really hyped up.

Although it was a great film content and making wise, it did feel very condensed, like it could have been 3 hours long instead of 1 and a half. Almost every scene felt as if it could have been extended by a few minutes. I know that a lot of people find these movies objectionable in relation to the references to the Norse gods. I have a problem with that. They are Vikings, not Christians, so it can’t really be expected that they would worship the Lord. Plus, there is only one scene in the second one where it is flaunted.

The other thing that worried me was the language. Before the movie came out, when a few people had the privilege to see a pre-screening, a parents guide was posted on IMDb. This parent’s guide stated that there was three Da**s, one coupled with the Lord’s name. This is not true. The only profanity is Astrid: “Oh my gods!” Although, technically this is taking the Norse god’s names in vain, not the Lord’s.

So this is one of the best animated movies I’ve seen in a long time, although I will restate that it was very condensed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nathaniel, age 13 (USA)
Positive—We loved this movie. My little brothers and sisters were not frightened by this film. It’s funny full of action, we would watch it every day, if we could. So much better than the first one. Thank you Dreamworks!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Josey, age 13 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative“‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ Character ‘Comes Out’ in The Sequel”—Like Satan, Hollywood is very subtle with its subliminal assaults against Christian families—namely, through its movie and entertainment mediums. Instead of spending $20 to support movies with anti-Christian themes, let’s donate our money in support of Christian charities and organizations that help advance the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Just imagine how many lives could be changed if we carried out Christ’s commission, instead of contributing to this fallen world. My prayer is that a national movement starts. It’s time for the church to wake up!
—Maurice W., Jr. (USA)
Neutral—To be honest I didn’t see the first how to train your dragon movie, but I came on here and was reading about the sequel. It sounds like it has the potential to be a good movie, but what was the deal with one of the characters coming out? I feel like that’s a really inappropriate thing to put in a kids’ film. I mean if someone wants to be gay it’s none of my business, but society really needs to stop pushing that agenda on people, and pushing it on kids was just taking it way too far.
—T., age 21 (USA)

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO