How To Train Your Dragon was great. Not only will it appeal to younger audiences, but it is still complex and emotional enough to appeal to older audiences as well.
The story has been compared many times to Avatar, but in my opinion, that's a bit of a stretch. For one, this is a story of a friendship that grows through a physical dependency (Toothless, the dragon, is missing a part of his tail that is needed for flight, so Hiccup, the kid, creates an artificial tailpiece that he can control from a saddle on Toothless's back). Because it's a more physical limitation, we as an audience can instantly connect to it and understand it. This allows the friendship to naturally grow between Toothless and Hiccup, without it having to be explicitly told to us.
I was a little skeptical when I saw the first trailer and noticed the obviously different art style (the dragons don't really look like a dragon is "supposed to"), I wasn't sold on the movie. However, after seeing the full movie, the art style's uniqueness is definitely one of its strong points. The dragon is cute as hell, and will probably remind you of your dog. Toothless has a great personality, but never talks, which turns the whole "wisecracking sidekick" stereotype of dreamworks movies on its head. Instead, the character is portrayed as an incredibly adorable and loving creature that can seriously kick ass in a fight if needed. This duality makes the character seem even more like an extremely loyal dog who can be very loving, but also know when to protect you.
My only criticism (and why I rated it as 90% instead of 100%), is that there are some cheesy moments. Very typical moments of family films. These really distracted me in parts, and it would have been very easy to fix them. But I'm assuming they were geared more towards children. This just goes to show that there are some areas that Dreamworks is still trying to sort out when it comes to giving a story "heart."
In conclusion, all the characters are great, and you feel empathetic towards them at every step of the way. I did not see the film in 3D, so I cannot comment on that, but it worked extremely well in 2D. Even within an hour of seeing the movie I wanted to watch it again, but I will probably skip 3D for the second time.
A stunning movie. Going into this I had heard literally nothing about the plot or general opinions about the movie... I don't think I even checked the tomatometer.
When I emerged from the theater, I was asked what I thought about it, to which I answered "I have no idea yet." A few months later and I believe I've finally digested the movie enough that I have formed an opinion. It was one of the best movies ever made.
Since seeing it, I've heard very mixed things about it. Critics seem to generally praise it, but the public seems to to generally dislike it. I can definitely see that it is not for everyone. However, apparently it was just right for me.
A few things one should know before seeing it is the story is slow and it seems to be very discontinuous, even though technically it's very continuous. Many people complain about the ending being too open ended and the beginning being completely disconnected from the rest of the story. I have to wonder what these people were thinking when they were writing their reviews. The ending is one of the more solid and powerful endings I've ever seen. Yes, it leaves some things unanswered, but it definitely ends where it should. Meanwhile, the beginning does not carry over to the rest of the movie in terms of a backstory or anything, but it definitely sets the mood and explains some of the more complex "hallucinations" that the main character experiences later in the movie.
On the cinematography side of things, this movie was also fantastic, very consistently the case when you've got Roger Deakins as your DP. Deakins controls the lighting and framing perfectly in this movie, giving us just the right mood for each "environment" that our main character moves through (whether it's the neighbor's house, the school, or even the front lawn).
In conclusion, the movie is EXTREMELY complex. Some people will never have the patience to put together the dots, but everything seems to fit perfectly together once it's been decoded. Like I said, it took me months to digest the movie. I recommend everyone see it, especially with a friend that you can talk to afterwards, and then really try to understand it instead of just passing it off as not having "a complete story."