Monday, December 10, 2012

Overrated/Underrated Dreamworks Animation

Most Overrated Dreamworks Movie: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2005)
I hated the first Madagascar and provided this is better than those cheap jokes I am still baffled by its decent critical success.  To sum this movie up, if the afro-circus marketing campaign won you over you will probably like this movie because that's its payoff.  At first I had hope for it as it seemed to know what it was, just a fun slapstick movie and it did have good chase sequences.  But then it got into the sad circus and the main characters getting in trouble for lying (animators stop telling that story, we're sick of it).  Another main complaint is that the main four characters really have no character arcs or discernible dynamic, use the four humours if you're lazy.

Most Underrated Dreamworks Movie: The Road to El Dorado (2000)
I love this movie and still enjoy watching it.  It is a great combination of high adventure and irreverent humor.  This has a beautiful epic backdrop which is juxtaposed perfectly with these two con artists.  The jokes are funny, the ball game is fun and it blends computer animation well for 2000.  This movie was a failure and it has been forgotten since, but that is a shame because this is the type of movie I wish that the studio still made.

Most Disappointing Dreamworks Movie: Puss in Boots (2011)
I was disappointed by both movies last year.  Did not think that this or Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) deserved their Oscar nods.  This one disappointed me more because it had more potential to be great.  It starts out with a great setting and some good action scenes but then it turns into a Shrek knock-off out of nowhere.  The addition of Humpty Dumpty and the beanstalk and an uncomfortably long flashback don't do this movie any favors.  It would have been better to focus on Puss in Boots in the human world or just tell the original fairy tale.

Most Surprising Dreamworks Movie: Kung Fu Panda (2008)
A lot of people were surprised by this because we had grown to expect the same tired thing from the studio.  But this movie perfected Dreamwork's tired schtick and made it fresh.  The celebrity voice cast was well cast as Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong and Ian McShane all brought a lot to the characters.  Po anchors the movie as a character you can easily root for.  And the action is great, well choreographed and it gains several gags from Po's unique physicality.  Tai Lung's escape is one of the studio's most memorable scenes.

My Guilty Pleasure Dreamworks Movie: Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
I haven't seen this movie since I saw it in theatres, I don't think it was ever aired on television even.  This is the one that caused Katzenberg to make the idiotic proclamation that "traditional animation was dead."  This certainly did not deserve the honor of being the animated movie that killed the medium.  I need to track this movie down because while it wasn't as good as Prince of Egypt or Road to El Dorado I liked it quite a bit.

My Favorite Dreamworks Movie: Prince of Egypt (1998)
This is the Jeffrey Katzenberg I wish we still had.  He used to try to push the medium forward with mature cartoons such as Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame.  While those movies had their flawed he did make a perfect mature movie that was accessible for everyone.  I am in awe of the scale of this movie.  There is so much creativity and majesty, such as the chariot race, the Egyptian paintings and the parting of the red sea.  Moses is a terrific lead with a very emotional and personal story arc.  His relationship with Ramses really makes this story work and Ralph Fiennes delivers one of my favorite vocal performances as the character.  I haven't even mentioned Steven Schwartz's great musical numbers.  This is a perfect animated movie and one that deserves to be regarded as a classic.

The Worst Dreamworks Movie: Shark Tale (2004)
There are several Dreamworks movies that I never saw the whole way through such as Over the Hedge and this.  I tried watching this on Cartoon Network recently and I just gave up.  The animation looks cheap the character designs are unappealing.  Most of this is pop culture references and slang which feels outdated and desperate.  I don't see much of a story here or even actual jokes.  This is their worst attempt to recapture Shrek.

The Best Dreamworks Movie: Shrek (2001)
Hollywood and Dreamworks latched on to the wrong parts of Shrek after its astonishing success.  Instead of trying to capture its tragic lead, quality animation, and emotional story every animation studio started making pop culture references, potty humor and overusing and misusing celebrity voice actors.  However just looking at this as its own movie it really does deserve its success.  It holds up after repeated viewings and took a lot of risks and successfully bucked several trends.  This also succeeded in getting adults interested in animated features, something films like Hunchback of Notre Dame and Prince of Egypt couldn't do.  This is Dreamworks best movie and one I will always love.

1 comment:

  1. I liked Madagascar 3, personally. It was EXTREMELY disjointed, but it held up well for me because of a great villain and lush, gorgeous European backgrounds.