Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation, this month Australian filmgoers will be able to imagine what it would be like to have families functioning as they should…on dragon-back.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is obviously the sequel to the hit kids film from 2010 that introduced kids to the physically inept Viking boy Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, and his midnight dragon friend Toothless. Our hero inhabited a village where the inhabitants spent the majority of their time defending themselves from a range of thieving dragons. But Hiccup forges a relationship with a wounded ‘Night Fury’ whose disability is the perfect complement for the boy’s inability to fit in. The first film finishes with Hiccup simultaneously repairing his relationship with his father Stoic The Vast (Gerard Butler) and saving his village from a monstrous dragon that’s been feeding off the smaller beasts’ efforts.
However in How To Train Your Dragon 2 it’s clear that though Hiccup has helped unite Viking and dragonkind, he’s yet to find his place in this new fraternity. While his peers are racing dragons round the village in a new team sport, their world still has room for loners. “Astrid takes the game!” Stoic proclaims, and then in a disappointed undertone, “And Hiccup is once again nowhere to be found.”
That’s because, hero or not, Hiccup continues to be a square peg in a round hole. He’s spent the last five years on a personal quest to understand his world and the incredible dragon breeds that inhabit it. That quest eventually brings him into contact with his long-lost mother, Valka, voiced by Cate Blanchet. She too is a dragon expert and provides the answer to as to where her son’s sensitive, thoughtful side comes from. And Hiccup will need every bit of her insight, combined with his father’s courage, if he’s to save his village’s dragons from the clutches of the evil Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou).
Villains aside, though, How To Train Your Dragon 2’s story turns on Hiccup’s personal journey. Plot-wise, his most crucial turning point is the arrival of that missing person who brought him into this world. When Valka offers to help Hiccup understand his dragons better, Australian audiences will realise she’s actually helping him discover himself through their new relationship:
Valka: “I bet you think you know a lot about dragons.”
Hiccup: “Should I know you?”
Valka: [removes her helmet] “No. You were only a babe. But a mother never forgets.”
It’s interesting that in a nation where divorce is increasingly common and step and blended families are on the rise (7% of all Australian families with children in 2010), this need to connect with birth parents to persists as a popular storyline. Unconsciously we realise we can’t really understand our place in life if we don’t understand how we came to be here. This might be something well worth bearing in mind when it comes to evangelism.
I believe that getting in touch with the Heavenly Father who is responsible for bringing us into this world continues to be one of the most powerful motivations for inquiring into Christianity. What’s more, despite modern rhetoric that individuals are the all important unit, we see in How To Train Your Dragon 2 a deep desire for reconciliation across family lines. The highlight of the film actually arrives when Stoic sets aside old grievances and tells his son, “We’re a team now – what do you want to do?”
But how do we set aside past wounds? Even Hiccup it seems is going to take some time to sort everything out – writer/director Dean DeBlois has already announced a sequel due in 2016. But surely, from the Christian perspective, the beginning is meeting that missing Father and understanding why the relationship faltered in the first place.
Release Date: June 19, 2014