35 weeks, almost 9 months, 31 posts, 28 films, 10 TV series, 2,521 minutes (plus however long I spent watching the TV shows), countless late nights, 109,484 words, 2 animation studios, 1 series.
In the Summer of 2014, specifically just before watching How to Train Your Dragon 2, I discovered that DreamWorks Animation were that year celebrating their 20th anniversary. This very much caught my attention for various reasons. DreamWorks and I had a tumultuous, disagreeable history growing up, and I had sworn off of ever seeing another one of their films again after being thoroughly disappointed by Kung Fu Panda in 2008. That was a vow that held until early 2014, when my personal goal of seeing every animated feature that gets a cinema release, and my reignited love of animation in general, forced me to watch Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
I really liked Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and that fact planted an idea in my head, although it would take the “20th Anniversary” title card on How to Train Your Dragon 2 to get me to commit the idea. I would fill in this crucial blind-spot in my animation knowledge by watching every single film that DreamWorks Animation had ever put out and, to make absolutely certain that I would see this premise through, I would use each film as the basis for an article in a series examining each entry in-depth, their place in DreamWorks’ history, and why they turned out the way that they did. I pitched the idea to the editor of Failed Critics at the time, and, not only did they accept, they gave me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted with it.
Thus, The DreamWorks Animation Retrospective was born.
Gathered on this page are the links to all 31 entries, in chronological order, from Antz to All Hail King Julian. Certain entries have been tidied up somewhat – excessively long paragraphs broken up, awkward sentences rewritten, new video embeds to replace the ones that don’t work anymore – but otherwise these are by-and-large as they were when they went up on Failed Critics. Why? Because not only am I incredibly damn proud of every single one of these articles, reading them in order provides a fantastic look at my progression as a writer in the 8 months that I spent on this endeavour. I even received praise on Twitter from Over the Hedge illustrator Michael Fry for my entry on the Over the Hedge movie in one of the most surreal moments in my career as a writer so far.
So, what can you expect? There’s the gradual realisation that these movies are far less homogenous than I expected them to be, high re-evaluations of dismissed classics, low re-evaluations of overrated stinkers, and a constant (and very necessary) feminist commentary and examination of gender running throughout. I compare the Shrek series to pop-punk, claim that Bee Movie is a piece of parodic genius, break down in detail exactly why Shark Tale is so reviled, provide scene-by-scene examinations of why Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Kung Fu Panda 2 are modern masterpieces, try to theorise why the studio is on such wobbly legs at the box office nowadays, and occasionally devolve into swearing rages if that’s your sort of thing.
I genuinely believe that these articles are some of the very best that I have ever written – hence why a link to this page is one of the first things you see as you enter the site – and I am so happy that I get to share them with you in such an easily accessible form once again. So whether this is your first time, or you’re revisiting for whatever reason, get ready to enjoy one of the most comprehensive breakdowns of one of the biggest, most important, and most influential animation studios of the 21st Century.
Callie Petch – 22nd July 2015
01] Introduction and Antz (21st July 2014)
02] The Prince of Egypt (28th July 2014)
03] The Road To El Dorado (4th August 2014)
04] Chicken Run (11th August 2014)
Bonus Entry #1] Joseph: King of Dreams (18th August 2014)
05] Shrek (25th August 2014)
06] The Fall of Traditional Feature Animation and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (1st September 2014)
07] Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (8th September 2014)
08] Shrek 2 (15th September 2014)
09] Shark Tale (22nd September 2014)
10] Madagascar (29th September 2014)
11] Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (6th October 2014)
12] Over the Hedge (13th October 2014)
13] Flushed Away (20th October 2014)
14] Shrek the Third (27th October 2014)
Bonus Entry #2] DreamWorks Animation Television, Part 1 (10th November 2014)
15] The Failed 2014 Hasbro Merger and Bee Movie (17th November 2014)
16] Kung Fu Panda (24th November 2014)
17] Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (1st December 2014)
18] Monsters vs. Aliens (8th December 2014)
19] How to Train Your Dragon (15th December 2014)
20] Shrek Forever After (22nd December 2014)
21] Megamind (29th December 2014)
22] Kung Fu Panda 2 (19th January 2015)
23] Addressing the Recent DreamWorks Staff Cuts and Puss in Boots (26th January 2015)
24] Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (5th February 2015)
25] Rise of the Guardians (9th February 2015)
26] The Croods (16th February 2015)
27] Turbo (23rd February 2015)
Bonus Entry #3] DreamWorks Animation Television, Part 2 (9th March 2015)
Conclusion (16th March 2015)