It is not a flawless movie. I agree that the viking teens were an unwelcome reminder that you are watching something "from the creators of Shrek", although the characters ended up quite unobtrusive and the smugness really only edges across the line with the D&D statistics. The film did dip into the ole barrel of cliches one too many times - misunderstod inventor! daddy issues! training montage! spunky romantic interest! - to really reach Pixar levels of storytelling. The opening was also not the strongest and reminded me a little of Ratatouille with its exposition overload. That being said, once Hiccup and Toothless start bonding the movie just takes off and never looks back! I really enjoyed all the work put into giving all the dragons - but especially Toothless - realistic animalistic traits: the cat-like body movements, bird-like head-cocking and many other wonderful details! Dragon design was also top notch, with the highlight being the Monster Hunterish final boss dragon
Flying scenes were awesome and more than matched Avatar's flair (Jakesoolee never did a loop-de-loop!); the falling scenes were even better and probably the most intense since Cody falling off the cliff-face in Rescuers Down Under! Relationships between the main characters were well done and believable; again, I was relieved that Astrid and the other teens were won over by Hiccup so quickly without having to resort to another subplot. I also enjoyed the fact that being a tinkerer was actually essential to Hiccup's character and plot development. So many animated movies have made the main character an inventor only to downplay the trait once the plot starts moving along (e.g. Meet the Robinsons) or treat it as a totally interchangeable aspiration (e.g. Robots). HTTYD, like a Bug's Life, instead weaves this into the central relationship between boy and dragon and my favourite scenes in the movie were when Hiccup was testing his various tailfin prototypes while also learning facts about dragons that help him in the ring.
Finally, has there been any recent mainstream children's movie that has treated