In a word, this movie is awesome. In a few words, How To Train Your Dragon is as good as anything Pixar has done. Blasphemy to say about a DreamWorks movie, I know, but true.
The main thread of the narrative is one that everyone has seen a hundred times in kids movies or books. Hiccup is a misfit teenage Viking trying to find his place in the world. His attempts to find that place lead him on an adventure in which he learns something about being a Viking, his family and village learn something about Hiccup, and everyone learns something about dragons.
While that premise may sound trite, the script deftly melds an action-fantasy story with positive messages about prejudice, disability, and being yourself. I am probably more cynical than the proverbial next guy and none of it felt corny, heavy handed, or manipulative. This is about as good as it gets for a film that is entertaining for adults yet teaches good stuff to the kids.
The visual style is interesting, the design of the different types of dragons is fantastic, and there are a number of great battle/flying scenes. Experts would probably be able to point out how the graphics are not at Pixar standards, but my undiscerning eye couldn’t tell.
Jay Baruchel seems a bit flat at times as Hiccup, but most of the voice acting is very good as well. It is especially fun to hear the Scotsmen, Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler, cut loose. The former Dr. Who, David Tennant, is credited, but only has one line that you’ll probably miss.
No surprise here, I’ll definitely be rewatching How To Train Your Dragon again in the future.