Australian Council on Children and the Media

How to train your dragon 2

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Short takes

Not recommended under 7, PG to 10 (Violence; Scary scenes and characters)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for How to train your dragon 2
  • a review of How to train your dragon 2 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 June 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and characters
Children aged 7-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, and disturbing scenes and characters
Children aged 10 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: How to train your dragon 2
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes and violence
Length 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This sequel is set five years after the events of the first How to train your dragon film, and opens with the Viking inhabitants of the Island of Berk engaged in their favourite contact sport - dragon racing rugby. The story’s lead character Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), who has now come of age, is betrothed to his childhood sweetheart Astrid (voice of America Ferrera). Hiccup also being groomed by his father Stoick (voice of Gerard Butler) to become the Island of Berk’s next chieftain.

One day while Hiccup and Astrid are out flying on their dragons and exploring new lands they stumble upon the remains of a fortress encased in ice, the result of an attack by an unknown dragon rider. Hiccup and Astrid soon encounter the owner of the destroyed fortress, a dragon trapper named Eret (voice of Kit Harington). Unfortunately, Eret mistakenly believes that Hiccup is responsible for the destruction of his fortress and captures Hiccup, Astrid and their dragons.

During their captivity Hiccup and Astrid learn that a mad warlord named Drago Bludvist (voice of Djiman Hounsou) has enslaved an army of dragons which he intends to use to conquer the people and dragons of Berk. Hiccup and Astrid manage to escape from captivity and fly back to Berk to inform the Island inhabitants of the impending danger.

Hiccup, believing that he can reason with Drago, flies off in a bid to track down Drago and his army of dragons. However, before he is able to reach Drago, Hiccup is confronted by the dragon rider responsible for the attack on Eret’s fortress. The rider turns out to be Hiccup’s long lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), who for the past twenty years has devoted her life to rescuing dragons from Drago’s clutches. With Valka’s aid Hiccup must make a stand against Drago to protect both the inhabitants and dragons of Berk from enslavement.                      

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.

Dragons; Vikings; warfare; death of a family member

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.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 contains more violence than the first film as well as being somewhat darker. However, the film is free from depictions of blood and gore. Examples include:

  • The contact sport of dragon racing rugby involves teams riding recklessly and sheep being catapulted into the air and tossed back and forth between team members like a football until dropped into a crate to score points. No sheep are injured and they do not appear distressed. During the game riders are knocked off of their dragons by other riders wielding sledgehammer-like weapons.     
  • One scene depicts a push and shove match between two Vikings, one shoving the other in the face.
  • A dragon breathes fire on to the roof of a meeting hall crowded with Viking men and we hear that all but one man was killed, although we do not see anyone die.
  • One character in the film has a sword hilt that emits either flames or green smoke that renders people unconscious.
  • In one scene dragon trappers shoot dragons with darts from blowpipes. These render the dragons unconscious.    
  • During a battle, thousands of Vikings in ships attack a small group of defenders on an island. The Vikings in ships shoot cannons at the island and fire giant crossbows. The attackers fire nets that entangle dragons but other dragons breathe out fire that destroys the nets. There is a sword fight between two large Viking men and one of the men punches an opponent in the head, knocking him to the ground. A woman attacks a man and we see the man knock her to the ground. In an emotional scene, a dragon threatens to breathe deadly vapour on a young man and his mother, but the young man’s father jumps into the path of vapour and is killed. In a later scene we see the dead father laid out in a boat which is floated onto the ocean and set alight with flaming arrows.
  • Two gigantic dragons fight to the death, head-butting each other.  One dragon uses its gigantic tusks to gore the other and kill it; no blood and gore are depicted. 
  • In an emotional scene, a villain uses a dragon to control the mind of a second dragon and force it to attack its own rider. This results in the death of one of the film’s leading characters.   

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:

  • The film contains a many animated dragons some of which may scare younger children. Some of them are gigantic with large sharp teeth, long claws, horned or spiked heads, spines along their backs and large wings. The dragons breathe fire, spit out blasts of energy or have icy breath that instantly freezes what it hits. Some of the dragons roar loudly.
  • In several scenes we see a threatening looking dragon rider wearing a face mask edged with long tusk-like spikes.  The dragon also wears a spiked face mask.   
  • A couple of the film’s leading characters have lost limbs. One character wears a mechanical leg while the other has a wooden peg leg. Another character has lost a hand and wears a variety of attachments that he attaches to the stump of his lower arm, depending on his need. In one scene a man removes an artificial arm, revealing a shoulder stump, and we hear the man say that he lost his arm in a fight with a dragon.

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:

  • In several perilous scenes a dragon rider leaps from his dragon’s back in mid-air and freefalls until he spreads out his arms, revealing a squirrel suit.  He then glides until he crash-lands into a snow bank or, on one occasion, the dragon catches him before he crashes.     
  • A Viking man opens his shirt to reveal a scarred chest and we him say the scar was the result of him being tortured by another man who was angry with him.
  • We hear that a dragon trapper has mistreated captured dragons and see one dragon with a severed foot and another that had been blinded by trappers.
  • A dragon regurgitates a stomach full of fish and a younger dragon eats the regurgitated fish and the licks the ground.

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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned violent and scary scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

None of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains a scattering of sexual innuendoes. Examples include:

  • A young woman who is infatuated with Eret ogles his body in several scenes and makes suggestive comments. Throughout the film two other young men compete for her, with one of the men saying, “But baby I grew facial hair for you”.  
  • After overhearing an argument between a married couple, a man says “That why I never married. That and one other reason”. 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A Viking man says after being reunited with his long lost wife, “You’re as beautiful as the day I last saw you.”  He sings to his wife and touches her face and they hold hands, dance and kiss.
  • Hiccup and Astrid kiss and hug in a couple of scenes.   

Use of substances

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

  • One of the film’s lead characters uses a device which emits green smoke that renders its victims unconscious.
  • Darts blown from a blowpipe are used to render dragons unconscious.

Coarse language

The film contains a scattering of name calling and a few unfinished exclamations. Examples include:

  • Snot mouth;  lunatic; crazy feral; madman; soil my britches; what the...?; steaming heap of dragon...; you son of a...; kick Drago’s... ;

In a nutshell

How to train your dragon 2 is an animated fantasy adventure targeted at older children and adolescents, but adults will probably find the film equally appealing. There is more violence than in the previous How to train your dragon film and under sevens are likely to find some of the scenes and characters too disturbing, so it is not recommended for this age group. Parental guidance is recommended for the 7-10 age group.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • It’s a leader’s responsibility to protect both people and animals under their care.
  • Good individuals (dragons in the film) can do bad things when influenced or coerced by bad people.

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

  • Diplomacy: the film’s lead character Hiccup always looks for peaceful means to solve conflict.
  • Trust: throughout the film trust between humans and animals is emphasised.
  • Gender equality; throughout the film women are depicted to be as courageous as their male counterparts.  

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