Dragon Rider

image for Dragon Rider

Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 7 (violence and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dragon Rider
  • a review of Dragon Rider completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 December 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 6–7 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 8 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dragon Rider
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes and animated violence
Length: 92 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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 fast being destroyed by humans, whom the dragons see as their enemy. Firedrake is sad about his future and 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), a young orphaned boy who once appeared in movies riding a dragon. Firedrake is certain Ben must by the famed dragon rider and insists he comes with them on their adventure, much to Sorrell's displeasure. Along the way they meet many perils including a fearsome Djinn with a thousand eyes who will answer their questions if they manage to meet his criteria – or woe betide them. Their 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 is a final confrontation.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fantasy; Mythical creatures.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • At the start of the movie a story is told while a cartoon background shows a battle between men and dragons. Men throw swords and axes and a dragon is seen putting a human into its mouth.
  • Firedrake falls of a cliff while observing 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. A Professor Barnabas Greenbloom arrives and stuns the turkey. He then 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 gets Firedrake.
  • A large eagle grabs Sorrel and flies off with her to its eyrie.
  • The Djinn attacks the three friends with his laser fire. Nettlebrand arrives and fights the Djinn which 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 the much larger creature who flicks him away with his tail. He 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 which melts him down into a pool of gold.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Nettlebrand is a particularly scary creature – a large lion-type monster with red eyes and sharp teeth. He is extremely mean and evil and is obsessed with a desire to devour dragons.
  • Some of the dragons are quite scary creatures: the chief of the tribe can be aggressive and scary when he opens his wings; and Spinecrackle is a particularly scary dragon who breathes fire.
  • Three dwarves, who look like small Vikings, carry swords and axes.
  • Nettlebrand lives in a castle on top of a mountain – it looks shadowy and spooky.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Firedrake and Sorrell are frightened by a loud noise which is shown to be men destroying the forest.
  • Firedrake nearly gets hit by a plane on his first attempt at flying.
  • Ben is seen to be living in a warehouse studio on a mattress as he is an orphan.
  • Ben steals a necklace from a jeweller and is chased by the shop keeper and the police. Ben nearly gets hit by a car.
  • Nettlebrand crashes through the forest, roaring as he goes.
  • Firedrake flies through a bad dust storm and he and his friends get tossed around in a vortex. They crash to the ground in a desert. Ben and Sorrel both have to dig themselves out of the sand, coughing and spluttering. Firedrake has fallen into a cave and he seems to be unconscious but he's still breathing. There are bones seen in the cave.
  • Ben dreams about the car crash that killed his parents and left him an orphan.
  • Ben finds an old car and presses its horn. Purple smoke appears and the mighty Djinn with a thousand eyes appears. The Djinn is quite a scary creature. He says he will answer any question providing it is asked by a human and it hasn't been asked before. If not, he demonstrates how he can send a laser beam from his eyes to destroy the questioner. This is quite scary.
  • The Djinn lifts Ben into the air and puts him into a kind of trance.
  • An Indian woman chants a spell over Ben and his eyes go white. He remembers what he saw in the Djinn's eyes. Ben leads the others on to the Rim of Heaven and his eyes go white whenever he is seeking the way.
  • Firedrake and friends are caught in another storm and blown into an ice cave.
  • Nettlebrand crashes through the snow on a mountain side. He enters the ice cave and accidentally steps on a button which lights up the cave with fire.
  • Firedrake's eyes turn white when he is fighting Nettlebrand.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • In a comic scene, Twinkles is trying to arrange a date for Nettlebrand on the Internet.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The Djinn seems to hypnotise Ben and puts him into a strange trance. Ben appears happy and lightheaded as if he is high on drugs.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Some name calling such as: Lame flame, Idiot, Freak.
  • I'll be damned.

In a nutshell

Dragon Rider is an animated adventure movie which lightly touches on themes of conserving the forests for the animals. The movie is fast paced and quite intense in places, which, together with the quite scary creatures, makes it unsuitable for children under 6. Parental guidance is also recommended for 6 – 7 year olds.

The main messages from this movie are to believe in yourself; that not all humans are bad humans; and that good triumphs over evil.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery and courage.
  • A strong and smart female character.
  • Determination and persistence.
  • Redemption and forgiveness.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Why did Ben need to steal a necklace? Was it a good thing that he returned it to the shopkeeper?