Firedrake the Silver Dragon Parent Guide
A deeply flawed story structure, poor writing, and racial stereotyping make this a poor choice for young viewers.
Parent Movie Review
In the distant past, humans and dragons lived side by side in harmony. But as human greed grew, dragons and other mystical creatures were forced into hiding and were soon forgotten. In modern times, a young dragon named Firedrake (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and his forest brownie friend, Sorrel (Felicity Jones) set out to find the rumored Rim of Heaven, a paradise where dragons can live freely without threat from humans. Along the way, they meet Ben (Freddie Highmore), a young orphan trying to find his place in the world. As the group search for the Rim of Heaven, Firedrake and Sorrel start to wonder if humans really are as bad as they’ve been told.
Firedrake the Silver Dragon is based off the book Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, which I have read but can’t remember clearly enough to assess the accuracy of the adaptation. What I can speak to is my strong dislike of this film.
This production suffers first and foremost from fundamental story problems. The structure of the narrative is deeply flawed on a technical level, which creates issues that no amount of Patrick Stewart is going to fix. We are told in the opening scene that Firedrake is an outcast amongst his community of dragons, but we are never told why, nor does it end of being all that important. The vast majority of the plot happens completely by coincidence, happenstance, or deus ex machina. The protagonists have almost zero agency, simply being pushed from one plot point to another, often with very little explanation or connection. The rare time that the characters actually do get to make decisions, their choices make no sense, and do nothing more than push the story to the next barely connected scene.
My next major issue is in character design. The animation itself isn’t that bad, especially the backgrounds. But I find the character design to be a strange mishmash of styles. Firedrake is outrageously cartoony, Sorrel looks like the animators were aiming for semi-realistic, and the humans all look like Dreamworks knock-offs. All of these bad design choices clash horribly with the beautiful and realistic backgrounds. The one exception to this problem is the antagonist Nettlebrand, who looks really cool and original.
To be fair, these are mostly problems that adults are going to notice, not the young viewers this production was designed for. And I will give credit where credit is due, the messaging around overcoming prejudice, not judging others, and honesty are all well done and clear. I can’t finish this review, however, without mentioning some problematic portrayals of South Asians. The people in the Indian village that the protagonists visit are portrayed as mystical and eccentric, with sacred knowledge they must protect from the outside world. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it racist, but it leans into Orientalist territory, and made me uncomfortable. For a movie that’s all about overcoming prejudice, you’d think the writers would have been more aware of their own biases and stereotypical thinking.
All of that said, I did not enjoy my viewing of the film, and I suspect most teen and adult audiences will feel the same. Young children who love dragons would probably have a great time, though I hesitate to recommend it for them because of the aforementioned Orientalism as well as the relatively high levels of scary content. In all honesty, I’d say just skip this one and turn on any of the How to Train Your Dragon movies instead.Directed by Tomer Eshed. Starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Felicity Jones, and Freddie Highmore.. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release September 10, 2021. Updated September 10, 2021
Watch the trailer for Firedrake the Silver Dragon
Firedrake the Silver Dragon
Rating & Content Info
Why is Firedrake the Silver Dragon rated TV-PG? Firedrake the Silver Dragon is rated TV-PG by the MPAA
Violence: A character is thrown off a cliff. Monsters of various types chase and/or threaten the protagonists. A djinn shoots lasers out of his eyes and threatens to kill other characters. A character slaps another character in the face. Monsters battle each other, including punching, pushing, throwing, and biting.
Sexual Content: A character looks under the belly of a dragon and says “this is a male dragon”.
Profanity: Some minor insults including “stupid”, “idiot”, and “freak”. One mild expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated September 10, 2021
Firedrake the Silver Dragon Parents' Guide
Why does Sorrel not trust humans? Where did she learn that from? How does her opinion change as she gets to know Ben? How does getting to know people help us overcome prejudice?