The first film had a large cast, but the thing is—it knew which characters to pick out and give key roles and arcs, while letting the supporting cast be just that: a supporting cast, where the strength lied in the character they displayed, rather than a need for an arc. I’m still amazed all they could come up with for Ruffnut, Snotlout, and Fishlegs’s characters were one-sided infatuations with another character that went absolutely nowhere.
The film’s key focuses should have been Hiccup, Valka, Stoick, and Astrid. I’m saying this not out of personal bias for the characters, but because it simply would have made the most sense in terms of the story given. Have one part of the story be about the rekindling relationship between Hiccup and his mother, eventually meeting up with his father, and have the other part of it be about Astrid leading Hiccup’s team against the dragon thieves and figuring out what’s the story behind them, eventually culminating in (a something of a diversion from the film’s development) establishing Hiccup’s role as peacekeeper to the dragons alongside his mother, and Astrid’s as chief of Berk.
Despite all I’ve said, I didn’t dislike film. I saw the makings of a great film—in the interactions between the mother-son bonding between Hiccup and Valka, the music, the advanced worldbuilding, the environments and dragons looking more magnificent than ever—but one that was too ambitious in scope to be satisfactory.