Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Dragons and dinosaurs—discover how they are connected
Dragons in the Bible
Are dinosaurs mentioned in the BIBLE? Answer
|Featuring:||Jonah Hill … Snotlout (voice)
Gerard Butler … Stoick the Vast (voice)
Kristen Wiig … Ruffnut (voice)
Kit Harington … Eret, Son of Eret (voice)
Cate Blanchett … Valka (voice)
Jay Baruchel … Hiccup (voice)
America Ferrera … Astrid (voice)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse … Fishlegs (voice)
Djimon Hounsou … Drago Bludvist (voice)
T.J. Miller … Tuffnut (voice)
Craig Ferguson … Gobber (voice)
Andrew Ableson … Ug (voice)
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.
Story and Character Development: While the first “How to Train Your Dragon” 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!
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).
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).
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.
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
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]
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.