Our 10 Favourite DreamWorks Animations

Andrew Buckle,

To celebrate the release of the critically-acclaimed new DreamWorks Animation movie, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, we felt like it was the perfect time to reflect on all of the movies released under the DreamWorks Animation brand.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is now available for premium rental or purchase in the Movie Store on Fetch, express from cinemas. Antonio Banderas returns to voice the daring feline outlaw, with Salma Hayek, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman and John Mulaney also lending their voice talents to this stunningly animated adventure.

When Puss discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll, having burnt through eight of his nine lives, he sets out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives.

While The Last Wish is sitting comfortably on 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, placing it amongst the best-reviewed movies in the DreamWorks collection, how does it rank amongst an offering of quality family-friendly movies that has now been spanning over 25 years?

Read on for some brief thoughts on nine of our other favourite DreamWorks movies over the years.

Antz (1998)

While some nostalgia certainly inspired this selection – I have always preferred this childhood high-rotation staple to the similarly themed A Bug’s Life out of rival animation studio Pixar (who were following up Toy Story) – DreamWorks’ debut feature is a funny and inventive adventure that remains a tremendous feat of animation. An irrelevant-feeling worker ant and a princess form an unlikely alliance to save their ant colony from a scheming General beset on wiping out the working class. There’s no mistaking the voice of Woody Allen, and Z has clearly been created to embody the most unique features of Allen’s appearance and personality. Antz is an odd film for sure, but it has forged a space in the category that will surely be enjoyed for generations to come.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

The Prince of Egypt (1998)

At the time of release The Prince of Egypt was understandably praised by many critics who claimed this fusion of traditional animation and computer-generated images to be one of the most visually stunning animated films ever made. It runs just 99 minutes, but this historical epic is packed full of story as it tells of the life of Moses, as described in the Book of Exodus. It details Moses’ journey from being a prince of Egypt through to becoming a prophet who fulfils a destiny to leads the enslaved Jews out Egypt. This was a moment where the art of animation unchained itself from the children’s entertainment category and was used to explore a story with more challenging themes. The Prince of Egypt further embedded itself in pop culture when the song ‘When You Believe’ won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The famous Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston duet version of the song was a chart topper and a part of the official Prince of Egypt Soundtrack.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Chicken Run (2000)

This stop-motion animated comedy from Peter Lord (co-founder of Aardman Animation Studios) and Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit) was a box office giant at the time of release – every family went and saw this in the cinema – and has since become a timeless classic. It has become a poster-film for the craft of stop-motion animation. In Chicken Run an outsider American rooster, Rocky (voiced by Mel Gibson), and lead chicken, Ginger (Julia Sawahla), plot a mass escape from their egg farm when they learn that their owner is planning to turn them into meat pies. The amount of details in the production, from the features of each unique-looking chicken to the Nazi concentration camp imagery of the egg farm, is simply mind-boggling.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Shrek (2001)

Little did we know it at the time but Shrek would be the start of one of the most iconic and popular animated franchises in the first decade of the 21st Century. Packed with pop culture references, and openly acknowledging its many fairy-tale influences – let’s face it, some of these are now a tad bit dated – this is was a surprise crowd-pleasing adventure that had gags for the whole family to appreciate. In the film a good-natured but bad-tempered ogre, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), finds his swamp home overrun by fairy tale creatures that have been banished by an obsessive ruler, Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). Shrek finds himself swept up in a quest to rescue a princess (Cameron Diaz) in order to have his swamp back. We could have done without a few of the late lackluster sequels but Shrek still ranks fairly high amongst the DreamWorks output.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Nick Park had been astonishing audiences for years with his eccentric stop-motion creations, the cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his taciturn pooch Gromit, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the first feature-length adventure involving these iconic characters. If you haven’t seen The Wrong Trousers (1993) it is legitimately one of the finest short films ever made. In this story – a frequently hilarious, but appropriately darker-toned parody of classic monster movies – the pair’s latest venture as pest control agents (their business is ‘Anti-Pesto’) forces them to come to the rescue of their town on the eve of the Giant Vegetable Competition. Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes lend their voice talents as part of an expanded cast and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. While the stop-motion craft has continued to evolve (Shaun the Sheep Movie is a stunning example of what is possible with this technique), this remains a very solid entry.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

The visuals in How to Train Your Dragon remain astounding today – the 3D experience, at the time, was one of the most dazzling – and it comes as no surprise that acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins was brought in as a consultant on the look of the film, while John Powell’s score is an exceptional piece of work. The story takes place in the mythical Viking village of Berk, frequently under threat from dragons, centering on an an undersized teen inventor named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), who has aspirations of becoming a dragon slayer like his father (Gerard Butler). Bu after Hiccup injures and then befriends a rare Night Fury dragon, which he names Toothless, he finds himself becoming an unlikely catalyst in forging a more optimistic future for his people. This large-scale adventure feels like it transcends the animated medium, offering a unique sensory experience – the soaring aerial sequences make it feel almost like a ride at times. It also has a hefty and emotionally-affecting narrative in telling the timeless story of the relationship between man and beast, and the unexpected bonds that can me made during an era of conflict. I feel fairly comfortable calling this DreamWorks’ finest film.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012)

In the third instalment in the Madagascar franchise the main characters from Central Park Zoo — Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo – attempt to return to New York City after their adventures have taken them to Madagascar and Africa. In their attempts they find themselves traveling across Europe with a circus while being chased by a relentless French Animal Control officer. This very trippy, jazzy, neon-coloured high-wire act features bursts of completely unexpected visual inspiration. There is a sustained level of chaos in this movie that made for a genuinely entertaining cinema experience. Europe’s Most Wanted became the highest-grossing film in the franchise and it is, in my evaluation, also the strongest film. Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston and Frances McDormand join regulars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith for this sequel, while renowned indie filmmaker Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, Frances Ha) co-wrote the screenplay with director Eric Darnell. Don’t sleep on this one, it’s a good time.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

The Croods (2013)

The Croods does make use of some low-hanging fruit – Fleetwood Mac’s immortal hit, ‘Tusk’, during one elaborate early chase sequence for example – and doesn’t have the tightest narrative in the DreamWorks offering, but this is a prehistoric adventure with a lot of anarchic visual gusto. Aided by an A-list voice cast – Nicolas Cage, which is a little distracting, along with Emma Stone and Ryan ReynoldsThe Croods is set in a fictional prehistorical period called “The Croodaceous”. When their cave is destroyed, patriarch Grug (Cage) leads his family through an unfamiliar fantastical world in search of a new home. The Croods will please younger family members with its sight gags, and is colourful and fast-paced enough to keep the young ones engaged. It has also spawned a similarly vibrant and distracting enough sequel, The Croods: A New Age (2020).

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

All three of the films in the Kung Fu Panda franchise are well worthy of repeat viewing, but taking away the sheer surprise hit of the first film we were thoroughly impressed by the third (and maybe final?) instalment. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson (who, with Kung Fu Panda 2, became the first woman to solely direct an animated feature) there is a real sense of continuity in this franchise. A durable vision carried across multiple films. Jack Black (as usual) is perfectly cast as Po, who is here reunited with his birth father and discovers the existence of a secret Panda Village. When Kai (J.K. Simmons), a spirit warrior, threatens to destroy the legacy of Grand Master Oogway, Po must learn to master chi and prepare the pandas to fight against their new enemy. What is perhaps most surprising is this franchise’s continued nimbleness in balancing thrilling action sequences with an charming story populated by likeable characters.

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

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