Because I am an insane person and I like to do stupid things, I thought it would be a good idea to watch every single DreamWorks Animation film. All of them. Chronologically.
That is 36 films. 35 of which were theatrical.
First up: ANTZ (1998)
A film I saw in the cinema, ANTZ is the film that Jeffrey Katzenberg used to start his payback against Michael Eisner and Disney. Taking the idea of an animated film starring bugs, ANTZ grew into a film which was released before its intended competitor, Pixar’s A BUGS LIFE.
If one needs reminding, here is the trailer:
“Okay, I’m gonna peel off some Band-Aids here. Dennis Hopper is dead. TV shows give no time for theme songs anymore. And Woody Allen did the voice of a cartoon ant.” – Abed Nadir
Woody Allen voiced a cartoon ant. So did Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone and Christopher Walken. An all-star cast. It is weird to think that because of ALADDIN (and to a certain extent TOY STORY), and Robin Williams we ended up on a course of stars being used to voice characters. Some well, some not so well.
ANTZ is a weirdly dark film for any kid to see when they are 8, as I was. Dark visually, the oddest-looking animated film until Gore Verbinski’s RANGO. All of the bugs look so stylised and weird, they all have imperfections. One of the many bugs we see is a drunk, some are stoners.
The themes are also pretty adult. There is an underlying theme of the means of production being controlled by the workers. Of the military class purging the weak. There’s the termite war, violent, pretty horrible, and to be honest not really something you will find in a 2020 children’s movie.
As a starting off point for DreamWorks this film is pretty strong. And I always preferred it to its Pixar rival. Something about the darkness seemed to stay with me.
But with its pop-music soundtrack, CGI animation, witty dialogue, it set the stage for a film that wouldn’t be released for 3 years, but had been in production for a lot longer. But we will get to that.
Next up is the traditionally animated trilogy of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO and JOSEPH: KING OF DREAMS.