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On DVD: Nov. 11, 2014 | On Blu-ray: Nov. 11, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

Movies.com Critics

4.5

Dave White Profile

Still soaring Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    76

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Bill Zwecker

    Not only does this second movie match the charm, wit, animation skill and intelligent storytelling of the original, I think it even exceeds it.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Gleeful and smart, funny and serious, this sequel surpasses the endearing original with gorgeous animation — a dragon Eden, a dragon scourge, an infinitude of dragons — and one stirring human encounter after another.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Village Voice Stephanie Zacharek

    The plot is needlessly busy, and much of the action is more manic and indistinct. But How to Train Your Dragon 2 cuts deeper than the first picture — it will be particularly resonant for anyone who has ever worked with or adopted rescue animals — and there are a few sequences of cartoon grandeur.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Leslie Felperin

    Clearly, these films are the work of people who love animals. More importantly though, going beyond the pat eco-conscious message that every kids’ film has to have, HTTYD2 touches on how complex the emotional bond between a person and an animal can be.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    While the original movie benefited from narrative simplicity and an admirable lack of villains, this one paints the screen with too many characters and frequent diversions from the main story, but nevertheless serves up a bountiful and sugary feast for the 3-D-bespectacled eyes.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Looks, feels and flows like a real movie. It's better than the last few Pixar features, among other things, and from where I sit that includes "Toy Story 3."

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Variety Peter Debruge

    If necessity is the mother of invention, then DreamWorks’ desire to extend the Dragon franchise has propelled the creative team in the most admirable of directions, resulting in what just may be the mother of all animated sequels.

    Read Full Review

  • See all How to Train Your Dragon 2 reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 7+

Epic, thrilling 3-D adventure sequel is outstanding.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a sequel to both 2010's How to Train Your Dragon and the popular Cartoon Network series. Like its big-screen predecessor, this is an epic 3-D adventure with dazzling visuals and gripping action sequences that will appeal to even older kids and teens. Very young fans may be upset by a significant character's death, the alpha-possession of the Berk dragons, the battles between the different groups of dragons, and several close calls for the story's protagonists. Expect more romance in this installment; it takes place five years after the first movie, which means the previously young-teen characters are now all around the marriageable age of 20 -- so it's no surprise there are a few suggestive jokes, especially with the addition of a hunky rogue. But thanks to its strong female characters, touching parent-child relationships, and positive messages about the bond between people and their animal companions, this is must-see for fans of the original and the show.

  • Families can talk about sequels -- and how hard it is for follow-up films to be as good as the originals. Do you think How to Train Your Dragon 2 does the job? What are some other sequels that lived up to the first film's legacy?
  • Hiccup has a complicated relationship with each of his parents. How does this movie explore parent-adult child relationships?
  • How are romantic relationships depicted in the film? How do Hiccup and Astrid compare to other couples in animated films?
  • What did you think of the use of 3-D in the movie, especially in the dragon scenes? How did it compare to other 3-D movies? Was anything too scary?
  • Are the female characters in this movie role models? Why? How do they compare to girls and women in other kids' movies (both animated and live action)?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true2

    Educational value: The movie promotes the idea of diplomacy rather than war and of overcoming self doubt to rise to occasions.

  • message true1

    Messages: Hiccup's actions prove that cooperation, diplomacy, and teamwork are better than animosity and war. The love and trust between Hiccup and Toothless is just as important as the love and trust between a parent and child. As in the first movie, there's also a strong message that girls and women like Valka, Astrid, and Ruffnut can be tough and fearless too. Even if they're in love, they don't need men to rescue them and are just as willing to help protect their people and dragons as the male Vikings.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Hiccup may not look as tough as other Vikings, but he's earned the respect of his chief/father and the citizens of Berk by being courageous, intelligent, and kind. He has leadership qualities, even if he doesn't show them at first. Astrid is a positive role model for girls: She's beautiful but tough and doesn't need to be saved. She challenges Hiccup, and they have a romantic relationship based on respect, not just attraction. Chief Stoick has mellowed out a lot since the first film, and he listens and is open minded this time around, even forgiving a long-held resentment. Hiccup's mother asks for forgiveness and wants to be a family again. Unfortunately, the villain is the only non-white character, though his ethnicity is ambiguous.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: A major character dies by a dragon who's possessed by an evil alpha dragon. Although the Berk dragons are more like protectors and companions, the other dragons are still capable of harm, in particular the "dragon army" led by Drago Bludvist. The battle sequences between the "free" dragons and the dragon army may frighten younger viewers, especially when even Toothless turns while controlled by the alpha. A Viking funeral pyre is emotional to witness.

  • sex false2

    Sexy stuff: Now 20 and engaged, Hiccup and Astrid kiss and hug a few times. Both Fishlegs and Snotlout compete to pursue and prove with their worth to Ruffnut, who in turn has eyes only for Eret. Ruffnut makes comments about Eret's body and says suggestive things like "me likey" when she sees his biceps flexing or "take me" when she thinks he might capture her. There are close-ups of Eret's muscles as Ruffnut dazedly gazes at him. There's an emotional marital reunion and a lingering kiss and dance.

  • language false0

    Language: Insults like "coward," "thief," "moron," and "useless."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: There are plenty of How to Train Your Dragon tie-ins available, from video games and figurines to apparel to McDonald's Happy Meal toys.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable

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