Over on my pop culture blog, UnitedMonkee, I’ve been running down lists of my favorite movie-watching experiences of the year. While going over everything I watched last year, I realized that I had a great deal of fun watching movies with my kids, and not just the repeated viewings of Moana and Barbie Video Game Hero!
A few years back my wife and I watched the first How To Train Your Dragon and enjoyed it. So, when the sequel came out, we wanted to give it a look, but knew that there was no way we’d get to see it in the theater. After it came out, I bumped it to the top of the ol’ Netflix queue and after a few days sitting around, we watched it with our three-year-old daughter.
If you’re not familiar with the films, they take place in a Viking-esque world that is inhabited by dragons. In the first film, the people of Burke come to respect the things they once hunted and killed thanks to the efforts of eventual dragon rider Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). By the time the second one rolls around, the people of Burke all have and love dragons, but there’s a warlord out there named Drago who is putting together a dragon army…for some reason. While trying to communicate how great the creatures are to Drago, Hiccup winds up meeting a mysterious person who helps facilitate a dragon sanctuary.
Overall, this is a fun, action-packed movie that looked like DreamWorks had warped a few levels in the old CGI department, but I don’t think I can out-and-out recommend it for fellow parents of young kids. The battle scenes are pretty intense and so is the lead bad guy Drago. Voiced by Djimon Hounsou, the so bad he’s bad baddie roars his way through most of his scenes (and also happens to look a lot like Marvel villain Blastaar). There’s also a very shocking death about 30 minutes before the movie ends that happened to go over my kid’s head, but didn’t stop her from asking “Where’s ____?” We’ve explained death to her as best we can, so she kind of understood “They died,” but I was a little worried that the revelation would be more devastating.
Still, she seemed to enjoy the movie even with those moments. I’m not sure how much of these movies she absorbs on the first go-around, but I bet she’d give it a thumb’s up. On the other hand, I’m not sure if it’s a movie that I’d add to the collection just yet because I do worry that after repeated viewings, those heavier elements might become more apparent. I don’t want to completely shield her from everything, but I also don’t want to expose her to too much. That’s the great complexity of parenthood!