Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Upcoming Dreamworks

So.  DreamWorks.  That "other" computer animation studio.  As you know, I'm a huge Pixar fanboy, and I've never been too impressed with DreamWorks.  It all happened when I saw Shrek 2, which as I've blogged many times before, is worst god damn piece of crap animated movie I've ever seen.

But DreamWorks seems to be turning it around.  When I finally got around to renting Kung Fu Panda, I was delightfully surprised.  How to Train Your Dragon got glowing reviews, but I haven't rented it yet.  And I went to see MegaMind in the theatre, because I love superheroes in animation, and again, I enjoyed it.

A vlog I like called the Nostalgia Chick summed it up pretty good.  DreamWorks first few films seemed to carry the attitude of "SCREW YOU, DISNEY!"  But now that DreamWorks is finally getting over that, their films are starting to increase in quality.  They're still not Pixar, but it's nice to see DreamWorks finally making an effort.

(And it's NOT nice that Pixar seems to be taking a few steps backward.  Have you seen the Cars 2 trailer?  That'll be another blog entry.)

Anyway, Dreamworks just announced their entire schedule through the end of 2014, so I thought I'd take a look at the slate and offer my thoughts on it.

May 2011:  Kung Fu Panda 2

As I said, I found the first Kung Fu Panda to be an unexpected treat, but Dreamworks still wants to turn all their hit animated movies into franchises, so they're off to start running this one into the ground.  The all-star celebrity voice cast of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Seth Rogan, Jackie Chan, and Lucy Liu are all back.  New celebrity voices include Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Po the Panda has another kung fu adventure.  We'll wait and see.

November 2011:  Puss in Boots

And you thought the Shrek franchise was done!  Talk of a Puss in Boots solo film began shortly after Shrek 2 hit theatres and the character was first introduced.  First it was going to be straight-to-video, then it was theatrical, and it's been pushed back so many times....  This one goes back before the Shrek films and gives us Puss in Boots' origin.  It takes the form of heist film, as Humpty Dumpty puts together a crackerjack gang to steal the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs.  Antonio Banderas is back as Puss in Boots, Selma Hayek voices his love Kitty Softpaws, and Zack Galifinakis is Humpty Dumpty. 

June 2012:  Madagascar 3

Well, Dreamworks head Jeffrey Katzenburg has commented that they have a complete Madagascar trilogy mapped out.  Movie 1, they escape from the zoo.  Movie 2, they get back to Africa and discover it's not all it's cracked up to be.  Movie 3, they break back into the zoo.  The third film follows Ben Still the lion and Chris Rock the zebra as they join a circus traveling across Europe that will eventually take them back to New York.  HA HA HA!  THAT'S SO FUNNY, IT MAKES ME WANT TO MERGE LANES WITHOUT CHECKING. 

November 2012:  Rise of the Guardians 

This one actually intrigues me.  It's based on a forthcoming children's book by William Joyce.  It follows the legendary characters of childhood -- Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, et al -- who have to join forces to stop the Boogeyman from plunging the world into darkness.  Chris Pine (young Captain Kirk) voices Jack Frost, Alec Baldwin is Santa, Hugh Jackman is the Easter Bunny, Isla Fisher is the Tooth Fairy, and Jude Law is the Boogeyman.  Huh.  When this was first announced, it was also revealed that Leonardo diCaprio would be voicing the Sandman, but I see that character is now absent from the list.  As I said, it's a premise that intrigues me.  I hope it's more magical and not cynical, like most movies about childhood legends seem to be these days.  I envision this as being very much like The Nightmare Before Christmas if done properly.

March 2013:  The Croods

This is another one that's been in development at Dreamworks for a long time.  Back when they were still partnering with Aardman (the makers of Chicken Run and the Wallace and Gromit franchise), this was going to be made by Aardman in their trademark plasticine stop motion animation.  But Dreamworks is making it in CGI.  It'll be interesting to see how much of that Aardman spirit survives.  It takes place in the days of the caveman, when one young caveman named Crood starts feeling threatened with a new caveman with radical new inventions like fire and the wheel, shows up.  Starring the voices of Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, and Cloris Leachman.  

June 2013:  Turbo

A snail who dreams of becoming the world's fastest snail is gifted with the superpower of super-speed.  That premise just makes me roll my eyes.

November 2013:  Me and My Shadow

Again, this is another very intriguing premise.  A shadow who desires to lead of excitement is stuck being the shadow of the most boring person in the world.  So, the shadow decides to break "the shadow prime directive" and take charge of the boring guy's life, and they go off and have an adventure.  Dreamworks promises that this is going to be the most groundbreaking blend of 3D computer animation and 2D hand drawn animation to date.  I can just see the people being computer animated and the shadows being hand-drawn.

March 2014: Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Based on the classic Jay Ward cartoon of the same name, this film follows the adventures of superintelligent dog Mr. Peabody, who travels through time with his pet boy Sherman, and they have adventures with all manner of historical figures.  Robert Downey Jr has already signed on to voice Mr. Peabody, and since Downey can do no wrong right now, I'm giving this the benefit of the doubt.

June 2014:  How to Train Your Dragon 2

And after a nice long stretch of original films, Dreamworks goes back to pumping out franchises and running premises into the ground.

So, yeah.  Dreamworks has some interesting concepts in development.  I hope they don't go back to their old ways and start ruining it with tons of fart jokes and pop culture references. 

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