MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By 20th Century Fox
Directed by Dean DeBlois. Animated Feature.
2010’s How to Train Your Dragon was one of the year’s big surprises; a beautifully animated film with great flying sequences, good characters, and a message of peace and understanding. When that story began, the Vikings were constantly rebuilding their village due to destruction by dragon fire. But Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), a young boy, discovered that dragons didn’t have to be that way as he nursed a wounded dragon back to health. Hiccup managed to bring peace between humans and dragons to create a hopeful coexistence.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years later. Hiccup is now a teenager and Astrid (America Ferrera), his friend in the first movie, is now his girlfriend. Hiccup’s father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) would like to train Hiccup in how to take his place as chief when that time arrives, but Hiccup would rather just fly out into the world with his pet dragon, mapping out new territories.
Hiccup’s travels take him to the discovery of an incredibly large alpha dragon, the Bewilderbeast, and also to a group of dragon trappers who are in the process of undoing all of the good that Hiccup has accomplished under the orders of Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), a ruthless psychopath.
It would seem at this point in the story that How to Train Your Dragon 2 might veer into the ultra-dark tone of so many current comic book movies with a nihilistic worldview. But this is far from the case. These films have a moral conscience and a dedicated passion for peacekeeping (which makes them differ from Cressida Cowell’s series of books). Ready or not, Hiccup will have to figure out a way to stand up to evil with his personal principles intact. The way of peace is not an easy way. One character will struggle with his dark side and another will lose his life. But love for neighbor brings forth new hope as well as changed lives, and it is worth the price.
When other films choose to go to war, the How to Train Your Dragon films are teaching children the values of peacemaking in an organic, non-preachy way. For this alone, I would highly recommend the movies. But there is so much more than that: How to Train Your Dragon 2 is everything you’d want in a family film. It’s funny, exciting, and the animation and set design are beautiful. See it on a big screen if you can.
Four halos: A good sequel to a good movie that manages to expand the first film’s message of peacekeeping.
Two pitchforks: Mild swearing; one character goes to Valhalla.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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