I wanted to see this for a long time and took my kids today for the first showing of the day. It was great to sit in the theater with maybe a dozen other people at noon on a Friday. Weekday matinee = Best. Time. Ever! Nearly empty theater.
I will give some spoilers but no specific points. You'll still have to see the movie for yourself. Oh, and pretend Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk never happened. The movie seems to pretend those never happened.
Anyway, on to the movie. The first five minutes shown on Youtube doesn't show everything in the first five minutes. It leaves out some minor transition points...
Not everything is shown in this clip.
The second movie takes place five years later, and the kids are around 20 years old and still not married. In a kids' movie, that makes sense but if this were real Viking culture, they probably would have kids already. Minor nitpick. At least in this movie, they are interested in relationships, as demonstrated by the interests of Snotlout and Fishlegs for Ruffnut to the disgust of Toughnut (her brother).
And then there's the trailer:
Ruffnut finds a different man. I didn't like the twist with that in the end. It didn't feel like it fit after all the effort of showing her interest in Erit. Not a good twist.
But there was a twist that completely fit the story, and I'm not talking about the revelation of Hiccup's mother. I will only say it was necessary but very sad. In the events leading up to that and thereafter, however, I felt like the story was rushed more for action's sake and sacrificed the storylines of all the characters except Hiccup and Toothless.
The movie starts with a great, rich canvas of characters and reintroduces them all five years later but then grows thin for the sake of action. The fight scenes rush to the point, not really exploring the full risks to the characters. In the twist I mentioned, there's something that happens between Toothless and Hiccup that I felt was more of a forced point to move the story in the direction the writers wanted rather than being true to the characters, and of course that quickly changed with a word from Valka. As a writer, I can see a different route that would have kept it true to the characters--having Toothless back away in shame of what he'd done rather than Hiccup yelling at him would have been more believable, imho. I was disappointed by that.
In the battle between Alphas, I would have liked to have seen more about the dragons defending the white Alpha and perhaps a struggle of the smaller dragons to fight the control of the gray. This would also have been an opportunity to give the other characters more screen time. This was a place I felt was thin.
The final battle was interesting, but again felt rushed to get to the main points. I would have liked to have seen more attention on the other characters. Instead, the story focused solidly around Toothless and Hiccup and Drago and the gray Alpha. Not even Valka, a dragon expert, was brought forward with any ideas about how to defeat the Alpha. I felt like the ending was a copout in some ways just to show how strong the bond between Toothless and Hiccup is and to round out the plot about Hiccup's fate as the son of Berk's ruler. While the first half of the movie felt like a great return to the characters I loved in the first movie, the last half felt rushed and thin compared to the first half, where there were some expectations about the story set up that seemed to get pushed aside in the second half rather than fulfilled.
Overall, I'd give the movie a 7/10. I enjoyed it but felt it was lacking in some ways that could have made it outstanding.