Dreamworks animation has never been held at the same level as Disney or Pixar and although I do agree they don’t quite meet that level, that doesn’t mean they haven’t got some classic animated films. With the release of Kung Fu Panda 3 (which I can’t wait to see) I’m going to countdown my Top Ten Dreamworks animated films.
Puss in Boots (2011)
The Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots kicks off the list. I’m a cat person, when I’m 80 years old and I live alone, I’ll probably have 30 cats. So I was pretty bias when watching Puss in Boots. The stupidly adorable cat from Shrek was destined to get a spinoff film from the moment he arrived and he didn’t disappoint. The first 10 minutes of Puss in Boots was hilarious, then the film (for better or worse) morphed into an action adventure journey and I went along with it happily.
This animated Superman spoof wasn’t really that funny but if you look at it as just a film and not a comedy, I think Megamind really works. The story is told from the perspective of a villain, similar to Despicable Me but I think Megamind has much more enjoyable characters and a really strong, touching story. You care for the characters and you want to see them prevail. And the Brando gag was great.
1998 brought us two rivaling films about bugs, A Bug’s Life and Antz. This may be the only time dreamworks beat Pixar in anything because I think Antz won the great 1998 battle of ants. Antz showed a more realistic view of what an ants life is like and how an ant colony works. A Bug’s Life, was more of a fantastical adventure. Personally I preferred Antz and with that stellar voice cast, it became my favorite bug film.
Dreamworks first big hit, was Shrek and it really took off. I always really liked Shrek, its spin on the fairy tale stories is very clever and funny. Another really great voice cast and it’s the best thing Eddie Murphy’s done in years. Shrek is full of wonderful characters that spawned sequels and a spin off.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Kung Fu Panda was one of the biggest surprises when it comes to animation. I never thought I would love a Panda that does Kung Fu.Then when I was Kung Fu Panda I was proven very wrong. Jack Black brings Po the Panda alive and is perfect for this role. The animation is great and made for some awesome action scenes.
Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Rise of the Guardians was an instant Christmas classic. Like Shrek, Rise of the Guardians took classic characters you know and love and created new fresh versions of them (Alec Baldwin as a Russian Santa is brilliant and something I never would have imagined). It’s a really heartwarming story and has definitely become a must watch every Christmas.
Shrek 2 (2004)
Something Dreamworks has mastered more than any other animation studio, is sequels. Shrek 3 and 4 may not be that great but Shrek 2, I like even more than the first. The first Shrek set up the characters and the world they lived in, then Shrek 2 explored that world (similar to another sequel that may appear later). The new characters that are introduced, fit in perfectly and the final action scene is thrilling.
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
Another Dreamworks sequel and another successful effort. I was surprised by Kung Fu Panda, I was blown away by Kung Fu Panda 2. The action scenes are amazing, the new villain was so unique and creative. The story was very powerful and had some serious emotional depth to it. The first reviews for Kung Fu Panda 3 have been very positive and I can’t wait to see where they go with this franchise.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Game of Thrones move over, the only dragon I care about is Toothless. How to Train Your Dragon is spectacular. I never thought I could ever get so emotionally invested in a story about a boy and his pet dragon. These characters are so well written and the animation brings them to life superbly. When Hiccup is riding his dragon, you feel like you too are flying through the sky, it puts you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole film. The animation is so beautiful, the mountains, the clouds, the sea, every shot of this film could be framed and put in an art museum. 2010 was an amazing year for animation, How to Train Your Dragon may have just been my favourite of the year.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Pixar for me is the gold standard when it comes to animation and the only time Dreamworks meets that standard, is with this series. Like I mention with Shrek 2 earlier, How to Train Your Dragon 2 expanding the world of the first film and created wonderful new characters to explore it. Cate Blanchett’s character design was so cool and instantly became my favorite. I just wish this film could have been a 3 hour fantasy epic, like The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m not sure how they did it but the flying sequences are even better in this one and the battles that take place are jaw dropping. It sucks that we have to wait till 2018 for the third one but if it means we get another sequel like this one, I guess I can wait.
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Next Week – Top Ten Coen Brothers Films