I may sound heated. I'm not. :-D These are my honest thoughts- take them with a grain of salt and a gallon of Scripture- may they be found edifying. I know many like this film- I don't. Here's why.
I have heard rave reviews of this film. I have heard that they (Dreamworks) at last took Pixar to task.
As my generation says- epic fail. As I say- Pixar is safe in its animative supremacy.
I wasn't disappointed, because from what I had read already I came with low expectations.
The story was good. It was the stereotypical characters that ruined it for me.
The worldview was horrid- feminazi girl, women fighting, crude jokes, almost-cursing, and much deeper and more insiduous issues- for example, the younger generation of vikings speak with an American accent- the older generation, a Scottish. The older generation look like vikings, the new generation, like American punks. Accident? I don't think so.
How To Train Your Dragon was full of dangerous worldview clichés that occur over and over in modern films- here come a few:
-Parents wrong, kids right
-Boy stupid, clumsy, effeminate, coward, but right in the end - I'm all for him using his mind to make up for his lack of muscle and take dominion over God's creatures, but why continue to reinforce the stereotype of teenagers being strong and stupid OR weak and smart? And yes, he was brave, in a way. They can't get away from God's Order.
-Girl heartthrob, brave, strong, manly
-Bad dad who apologizes in the end - kid apologizes too, but was right all along, and was totally cool in his rebellion
-Heartthrob girl and clutzy boy kiss in the end- or, rather, she kisses him and he stands dazed and amazed
-All the kids are rebellious jerks, especially the main character. Disobeys. Again. And. Again. But he's funny while he's doing it, so that's all OK, right?
-Depressing credits (what's with the fad???)
BUT. The music was great and the overall quality was impressive.
2 of 5, not recommended unless you want to study sound design or film scoring.
Now, that sounds like I couldn't stand the film. Such is not the case. It was a fun ride, and there were some very funny parts. There was even some real Viking manliness modeled in the beginning, though they turn out wrong in the end... a fun film, a good use of a classic story structure, but, sadly, full of unnecessary and dangerous worldview clichés.
How much more powerful and fresh would the film have been if the son, a brave, strong young man in his own right, discovered this secret about dragons, told his father, and then the father and son set out together to find out the whole truth and set to right the fighting between dragons and humans?
(SPOILER- though, as an afterthought, I appreciated that the kid lost his foot in the end. A touch of realism, originality, and non-cliché-always-perfectly-happy ending.)