A couple days ago I took my 2 1/2 year old son and my 13 year old brother to see How To Train Your Dragon 2, so I thought I’d write up a review for the movie. My goal with any review is to be thorough in order to help you make an informed decision as to whether that particular movie (or book, etc) is right for your family. That said, this review is loooong, and if you don’t want any spoilers, you might not want to read on!
Before I get started, one more thing. You might be wondering, “she took her 2 1/2 year old to the movie theater? Why in the world would she do that?!” Well, two reasons. Number 1, I had a little bit of a movie gift card to use up and number 2, K loves dragons. He loved the first movie (which we own), so I thought he would love the second as well. Someday soon I’ll try to write up a post on how we’ve handled TV/movies with K.
So, without further ado, the review…
How To Train Your Dragon
If you haven’t seen the first How to Train Your Dragon, you might be a little confused as to some of what’s going on in the second movie, so I would recommend renting that first if you need to. Here’s a short summary of the first movie, skip ahead if you’ve already seen it.
HTTYD is set on the viking island of Berk, where they have a particularly nasty problem with dragon invasions. The main character, Hiccup, is the son of Stoick the Vast, chief of Berk. All vikings are rough, tuff, dragon fighting machines. That is, except Hiccup, who is a tiny, meek inventor. Desperately trying to win his father’s approval, Hiccup uses one of his inventions to try and bring down the deadliest dragon of them all, the Night Fury. Thinking he has not succeeded, to his surprise, Hiccup comes across the injured night fury in the woods. Thinking this was his chance to impress his father and the town, Hiccup attempts to kill the Night Fury, but when he sees the fear in the dragon’s eyes, he cannot bring himself to do it. He lets the dragon go. Over a period of time, Hiccup and the dragon (now named “Toothless”) bond, eventually becoming inseparable. Meanwhile, Hiccup has been enrolled in dragon fighting lessons, which he is actually succeeding in because of his newfound understanding of dragons. However, when he is chosen as the student to receive the public honor of killing his first dragon, Hiccup knows he must try and bring peace between dragons and vikings. His plan completely backfires and his father, furious and disappointed in his son, takes Toothless and uses him to find the dragon’s “nest,” intent upon finishing off the dragons once and for all. In the end, the queen dragon is too powerful for the vikings, but Hiccup and Toothless save the day (and Toothless saves Hiccup’s life), bringing peace between vikings and dragons.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Plot Summary
In How to Train Your Dragon 2, the story opens once again in the town of Berk. Although, instead of fighting dragons, they now race dragons! The dragons live in the city and are loved by all. Stoick is trying to convince Hiccup that it is time for him to take over as chief, but Hiccup is not sure he is the right person to take over for his father. Hiccup, in part caused by the hole he feels from never knowing his mother, is searching to figure out who he is and what his place in life is.
In his search for inner understanding, Hiccup occupies himself with outer searching as he and Toothless fly far and wide, mapping the surrounding areas, discovering new dragons and lands. In one of these searches, Hiccup and Astrid (Hiccup’s love interest continued from the first movie), discover a destroyed area, with buildings demolished and covered in ice. They have a run in with dragon trappers, who are capturing dragons to bring to their master, Drago, who is building a dragon army. After a narrow escape, they fly home to warn Stoick.
Upon hearing the news, Stoick begins to fortify the city, commanding everyone inside. Hiccup pleads with his father to ride to Drago and try to convince him not to fight. Stoick will not listen, as he has had experience with this ruthless killer before. Hiccup, determined to try and bring peace, does not listen to his father, and instead he flies off to find Drago. Astrid flies after him and the two go looking for the dragon trappers.
As Hiccup and Astrid are trying to convince the dragon trappers to lead them to Drago, Stoick and some of the others find them and attempt to bring them home. Hiccup once again does not listen and continues on by himself. Stoick commands Astrid to take the other young people home, and he continues on with Gobber to bring Hiccup back, afraid at what might happen to his son.
As Toothless and Hiccup are flying, they are ambushed by a strange person in an outfit made to look like a dragon. They are taken into a cave and are surrounded by dragons, fearing for their lives. However, the mysterious stranger takes off her mask and it is Hiccup’s mother! She, like Hiccup, was unable to kill dragons, wanting peace instead. When Hiccup was a baby, she was unable to kill a dragon to protect him, and when a dragon carried her off, she was afraid to return. So, instead, she had spent the last 20 years living with the dragons. Soon, Stoick and Gobber find Hiccup and Stoick and Valka (Hiccup’s mother) reunite.
Meanwhile, the other young vikings are worried because Hiccup, Stoick and Gobber have not returned yet, so they set out after them. They convince the trappers to take them to Drago, however, their plan backfires when Drago takes all their dragons and attempts to kill Eret, the main trapper. As Drago goes to kill Eret one of the dragons surrounds him with her wings and saves his life. This act turns Eret over to the side of the dragons. Drago and his army leave to capture the rest of the dragons and then declare war on Berk. Astrid, Eret and the others manage to escape and free the dragons. They then attempt to catch up to Drago.
While Hiccup, Stoick, and Valka are being happily reunited, their bliss is interrupted by the attack of Drago, coming to take the dragons in Valka’s nest. As the battle begins, it looks like Valka’s dragons will come out on top because they have their Alpha Dragon, a giant dragon who breathes ice. However, it turns out Drago has an Alpha Dragon as well! The two Alphas fight, and Drago’s comes out on top. Because of this all the dragons must come under the command of the new Alpha Dragon, including Toothless. As Hiccup tries to convince Drago to make peace, Drago commands his Alpha dragon to command Toothless to kill Hiccup. Toothless tries to resist the trance like state, but he cannot and he attacks Hiccup. Stoick comes in at the last second to save Hiccup, taking the deathly blow himself.
Drago takes the dragons and leaves the vikings to mourn the loss of their great chief. After regrouping, Hiccup takes on the role of the chief (finally beginning to understand his purpose) and the vikings take a wild ride on the baby dragons (who don’t listen to anybody!) back to the Island of Berk to save their people.
When they return to Berk, Hiccup goes to Toothless to try and get him out of his trance. He succeeds and the pair (along with the others) attack the Alpha dragon to try and loosen his grip on the other dragons. As the other dragons come out of their trances, they join Toothless who is now challenging the Alpha dragon. With the other dragons on his side, Toothless wins the battle with the Alpha dragon, defeating Drago, becoming the new Alpha dragon, and saving the people of Berk. Hiccup officially becomes the new chief and they all live happily ever after.
Why You Will Want To See This Movie
- Action-packed fantasy – Fire breathing dragons, vikings, strange new worlds – it’s a great movie for the budding fantasy lover in your family.
- Great discussion starters – The main crux of the story was the battle between power and peace. Drago had been harmed by the dragons, so he strived to take them over and rule them by force and power. Hiccup had also been harmed by the dragons, but instead sought to bring about peace. Another big theme is Hiccup trying to figure out who he is and what his purpose in life is.
- Loyalty – In the end, the dragons broke through the power of the evil side and gave their allegiance to Toothless and Hiccup. They were loyal to the ones who loved them.
- Forgiveness – Toothless kills Hiccup’s father, yet he still returns to save him. Him and Stoick also forgive Valka for leaving them.
- Sacrifice – One of the dragons sacrifices her freedom to save Eret and in a powerful and emotional moment, Stoick sacrifices his live to save his son.
- Parallel to the power of sin – I thought there was a great lesson/analogy about the power of sin in this movie. Under the influence of the evil dragon, Toothless did the unthinkable. He was unable to come out of this “trance” without help and forgiveness. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it got me thinking. Brings to mind Genesis 4:7 “…But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
- The power of influence – At one point in the movie, they say something to the extent of “a good dragon under the control of an evil person will do bad things” (can’t remember the exact quote). Brings to mind Psalm 1:1 in a way. Could lead to a good discussion on the way other people in our lives can influence us for good or bad.
Why You Might Not Want To See This Movie
- Scary Scenes – I thought there was a good deal more fighting and fire breathing in this movie then in the first one. This type of thing does not phase my dragon loving, bad guy fighting little guy at all, but if your child is sensitive to scary images you might want to skip this movie.
- Difficult plot – The themes in this movie were way over the head of my two year old. All he really grasps is good guy fights bad guy, good guy wins. If he didn’t love dragons, I probably would have skipped this movie until he was a little older and understood more of what was going on.
- Death – Hiccup’s father, Stoick is killed towards the end of the movie. In the (I’m assuming) traditional viking way, they send him off in a ship and then shoot the ship with flaming arrows.
- Disobedience – Hiccup repeatedly does not listen to his father who loves him and is trying to protect him. In the end, his father was right, and Hiccup’s decisions cost him a great deal.
I LOVED How To Train Your Dragon 2! That said, I am a fantasy lover, so it was up my alley. I loved the deeper themes that ran through the movie and think it would make for some great family discussions. My son, of course, loved the movie, although he was getting a little antsy towards the end, ready to get up and move around a bit. My 13 year old brother enjoyed the movie too. So that’s six thumbs up from us!
I’d love to hear if you have seen/are planning on seeing How To Train Your Dragon 2. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments!