or years, Dreamworks has been considered the contender to the throne of Disney Pixar, the secondary studio in the world of animated blockbusters.
While box office receipts suggest this is still largely the case, the studio has seen a real creative resurgence in recent years and the balance seems to be shifting.
Since its first Antz animation in 1998, the studio has released a host of very original films. Despite the occasional drop in quality, they continue to find huge audiences all over the world.
With the success of franchise films such as How To Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks is finally starting to become an innovative force – corresponding to Pixar every step of the way.
With How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World new in theaters, revisit our pick of the studio’s best movies below – but note that while Dreamworks has distributed Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit, both are primarily Aardman Productions, so we haven’t intentionally included them below.
10. Antz (1998)
Woody Allen as a neurotic ant, falling in love with a princess, before reluctantly going to war and discovering the world outside the nest – as far as the animation ideas go, it’s pretty neat, carried away with a real verve.
Antz, the studio’s very first animation, came out a few months after Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, and while the film’s animation work is paltry in comparison, Allen Z has proven to be a much more compelling protagonist than Dave’s Flik. Foley – possibly the most uninteresting main character in Pixar.
Allen’s involvement gave the movie a boost, but the voice cast is actually full of prominent names – Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, and Gene Hackman are all involved. Although a little rough around the edges, Antz is still one of the studio’s most enjoyable films.
9. Bee Movie (2007)
Depending on who you ask, Bee Movie is either Jerry Seinfeld’s career nadir or his most inspired project since Seinfeld ended in 1998. He’s very ridiculed by some, with a modest 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a series of poor reviews – NPR at the time went so far as to say “it’s a film with no particular flair in its animation, no interest in its twists, and no real rationale” – but it has since developed something of cult status among Fans.
Despite its mixed reception in 2007, the film received a meme craze a few years ago, which helped raise its profile and caused everyone to re-evaluate the film for what it was. was – a completely bonkers movie, with an eccentric script by Seinfeld.
The plot reads as follows: Barry the Bee of Seinfeld sues the entire human race for having “enslaved” the bees to make honey, before falling in love with a human woman, who then leaves her her fiancé. This is the kind of movie it’s hard to imagine a studio like Dreamworks taking a risk in 2019 and in truth it’s a miracle it’s ever been made, but it’s an adorable triumph. and strange, which often wins the skeptics, given the opportunity.
8. Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
The third installment of the Kung Fu Panda series features some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring animated works the studio has ever conjured up, transporting viewers to the stunning landscapes and intricate interiors of ancient China.
It wasn’t just the visuals that made the film so successful – while Kung Fu Panda 2 looked like little more than a retread from the original film, the third film took the narrative to engaging new places and gave Jack Black Po more to put his paws. The filmmakers also added new dynamics, with the introduction of Po’s father – the start of an absorbing new relationship that seemed like a justified and effective addition to the franchise, rather than a lazy plot device.
Black, as always, managed to strike a balance between whimsical, endearing naivety and scatterball eccentricity to lead the vast celebrity cast in style. The likes of Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, JK Simmons, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Kate Hudson and Jean-Claude Van Damme are all involved. Like many of Dreamworks’ recent films, the quality of the film’s production – from script to animation and casting – is undeniable.
7. Flushed (2006)
The modest Dreamworks hit Flushed Away centers on Kensington’s house rat Roddy St James, who has his world turned upside down after being thrown down the toilet and found himself in the underground city of Ratropolis, meeting all kinds of characters as he goes. and to measure. Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, and Shane Richie all help bring the characters to life. It’s by no means perfect – the slightly bossy and genuinely spooky look of the Sewer Dwellers makes it a hard movie to love, and it only grossed $ 187 million worldwide on a $ 178 million budget. , but it’s still a very solid movie. which holds up well to reassessment.
6. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Dreamworks’ 90s and early 2000s animations are definitely a mix. With each success (the touching Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron), there are failures (the tiresome Road to El Dorado, for example). However, the studio’s second animation is sort of an anomaly, with a different feel to anything that would follow from the studio.
The Biblical Tale, following Moses and the events of the Book of Exodus, features music by Hans Zimmer and vocal performances from an impressive roster of talents, including Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock and Jeff Goldblum .
It’s a serious and rather heavy epic, at least when it comes to family entertainment, with the film sticking pretty rigorously to the Biblical story – it’s safe to say that the slavery storyline doesn’t translate. not by many funny moments either. However, it was a bold statement of intent from the studio in 1998, with a quirky and rather beautiful look. Perhaps surprisingly, the film turned out to be the biggest non-Disney animated success at the time, taking in $ 218 million worldwide.
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Dreamworks’ record for sequels isn’t exactly flawless, with Madagascar and Shrek’s follow-ups failing to capture the same spark that inspired the originals. However, they did it right with this one.
Importantly, the stakes felt really high throughout the film, as the lovable Toothless dragon takes on the mysterious monster in a key setting, while viewers also see the parents of the Toothless protagonist meet after years apart in a particularly moving scene.
It not only regurgitated what made the original so compelling, but rather developed the film’s central relationships and added additional layers to the characterization of the key players. As always, the animation is breathtaking, providing viewers with striking sun-drenched landscapes and cool moonlit views. It’s a true accomplishment, both technically and narratively, that makes the prospect of How To Train Your Dragon 3 all the more exciting.
4. Madagascar (2005)
Madagascar tells the story of a motley group of animal friends at the Central Park Zoo, who are torn from their cushy lives in captivity and forced to fend for themselves in the wild. While the lead roles, voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith, are quite charming, the real strength of the film lies in the excellently drawn supporting characters. The equally civilized and primitive chimpanzees Mason and Phil, the lemur king Julian XIII and the vile escaped penguins – who were to receive their own spinoff film The Penguins of Madagascar in 2014 – are all a real treat.
There is brilliant characterization and catchy writing throughout the show, even though the film feels episodic at times and jumps from place to place a bit too freely. Still, it’s one of the studio’s most stand-out films of the ’00s, and while adults might not be entirely happy given the lack of real depth, there is so much to offer young fans.
3. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Unlikely heroes are an evergreen trait in Dreamworks animations, but Kung Fu Panda’s Po might just be the friendliest of all. The clumsy bear, who was raised to work in a noodle shop by his foster father, the goose Mr. Ping, learns the ancient art of Kung Fu against all odds, becoming a hero of ancient China in this imaginative film and surprisingly captured.
The film’s mantras of self-confidence, self-determination and fighting borders can seem a bit hokey at times, but the film’s lightning pace, visual flair, and lovable heart make it one of the most enjoyable Dreamworks movies ever. ever made, and one of the most successful too, grossing $ 215 million at the box office in 2008.
2. Shrek (2001)
Shrek is, by far, the funniest animation Dreamworks has made to date and that is due in large part to two factors – the fastest writing the studio has ever seen and a tireless performance by Eddie Murphy. in the recording booth, which offers a perfect performance as a donkey, alongside Mike Myers as Shrek.
Like other early Dreamworks films, the animation is at times a little less than perfect, but the way the film subverts the fairytale format is inventive and still looks fresh even 18 years later. The film spawned a series of sequels of different quality, but continues to be the studio’s highest-grossing franchise – Shrek 2 remains Dreamworks’ highest-grossing film, with $ 920 million at the global box office. It’ll do Donkey, it’ll do.
1. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
By far the most accomplished film the studio has made is How To Train Your Dragon, which marked a huge breakthrough for Dreamworks in 2010.
Based on Cressida Cowell’s 2003 book, the film tells the story of a misunderstood teenager Hiccup, who is overlooked and underestimated by his warrior father, and who forms an unlikely friendship with the Toothless dragon. At first glance, this is not the most original idea (the story of “the stranger finds a dragon” has already been done, as anyone who has seen the extremely disappointing adaptation of Eragon in 2006 will testify) but there is a freshness in the narration that elevates him above his contemporaries. It’s the perfect blend of beautiful animation, larger-than-life characters, star-studded vocal cast, narrative clarity, clearly defined and well-told relationship arcs and a fully realized fantasy world – that all combine to create something a little bit magical.
Significantly, the hugely impressive film coincided with a string of uninspiring Pixar projects including Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University. For the first time, he suggested leveling the playing field and proving that Dreamworks can finally measure up to the best in the business.