Five years on from the events of How to Train Your Dragon, humans and their scaly, fire-breathing friends now live in harmony in the Viking town of Berk. Dragon-racing is a favoured sport, and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now closer than ever to his fearsome black steed, Toothless. The pair loves nothing more than to soar away and explore new horizons, with Hiccup evading the request of his father Stoick (Gerrard Butler) that he takes over as town chieftain.
But on one such adventure, Hiccup and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) make an alarming discovery: a band of dragon-trappers working for the fearsome Drago Bloodvist (Djimon Hounsou), a tyrant amassing a dragon army. As Hiccup fights to counter this threat to Berk’s future, he meets Valka (Cate Blanchett), a mysterious woman who holds the key to his past.
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? If you have seen the first How to Train Your Dragon film, or read the books, how did it compare?
- Who was your favourite character, and why? Which was your favourite dragon? Would you want to live in Berk, and why or why not?
‘Some of us were born different.’ – Valka
- Did you like Hiccup as a hero? How does he find clever ways around the things which might hold him back – like having one leg, or not being physically strong? How can being different from others, like Hiccup, be a good thing?
- Hiccup thinks that he can talk Drago out of attacking Berk. Why might it be better to talk about our disagreements instead of fighting about them? How can we do this? What happens if people don’t listen?
- What makes Hiccup and Toothless’s friendship so special? What can we learn from the film about working with others, and accepting people who are different from us?
‘I know what it is to live in fear.’ – Drago
- Why does Drago want to control the dragons? How is his way of ‘training’ dragons different from Hiccup’s? How can friendship be a more powerful force than fear?
- Why is Hiccup confused about who he is, and what he wants, at the beginning of the story? Why does he change his mind about becoming chieftain by the end of the film? What lessons has he learned?
- How successful is How to Train Your Dragon 2 as a sequel to the original film? How does it expand that film’s world, and deepen its ideas? What makes for a creatively successful – or unsuccessful – sequel?
‘A mother never forgets.’ – Valka
- How did you feel when Hiccup met his mother? How would you describe Valka as a character, and what did you make of her motives for staying away from her family? Are mothers often judged more harshly than fathers for being absent, and if so, why might this be?
- How did you react to the death of Stoick? Why is the death of the father (or of both parents) often such a significant step in the journey of fictional heroes?
- What does the film have to say about the value of pacifism and diplomacy versus the power of force? Does it suggest that diplomacy has limits? Are the film’s pacifist ideals undermined by its two climactic battles, and why or why not?
‘People are not capable of change.’ – Valka
- Why does Valka believe this, and does the film support her claim? In general do you think human nature defaults to conflict and suspicion, or tolerance and reason? How might you support your answer?
- What does the film have to say about questions of freedom versus responsibility? How do Hiccup’s parents represent his choices in this respect? Where might questions of freedom and responsibility be raised in our own lives, and is it possible to balance – or integrate – the two?
‘What you’re searching for isn’t out there, it’s in here.’ – Astrid
- What is Hiccup ultimately searching for, and how does he find it? Is Astrid right to claim that identity should be found within, rather than from an external source? Is there such a thing as ‘true’ personal identity, and if so how can we find it?