Disney vs Dreamworks (Commentary)

As you can imagine, spending 11 hours on a plane ride from my ancestral homeland leaves for a lot of free time. And, I don't think there's any better way to spend that time than to watch Dreamworks movies. I had heard a lot from online reviewers that Dreamworks was, like, this big rival to Disney, but I never really saw Dreamworks as that big of a threat so, I didn't believe them. Then, while I was watching these movies, I was going in with a clean mind that hadn't seen these movies in quite a while. And, as I began comparing them to Disney films, I started to believe that there might be a rivalry here.  While Dreamworks isn't the iconic entertainment titan that Disney is, it's still really fun and even deeper than Disney. But, at the same time, I can't see myself completely siding over with Dreamworks because I've always loved Disney movies and probably always will. So, I decided to compare these two giants of the CGI film industry to see which one really is better. For this entry, I'll be listing the iconic qualities of the standard film of both these companies, seeing what I like and don't like about them, and then, finally comparing the two in a final showdown.

First, we have the Disney Animation Studio. If you have a single living cell in your body, it's a safe bet that you know what the Disney formula is. They've always been associated with princes, princesses, fun songs, and magic. So, basically, candy-coated nonsense for kids. But, is that what it really should be associated with? It's true that the animation and songs are a lot of fun to watch and listen to, but have you ever really looked past that to some of the stories they write? If you did, you'd probably realize, as I have, that Disney actually has a fantastic writing team. The characters are well developed and the emotions are always the forefront of the stories. The writing staff is starting to re-realize what they knew back in the Disney Renaissance: the characters and their emotions must drive the story.

The problem is, when you're watching the characters go through their emotional stresses, only a small part of it is driving the plot while the other part is just the characters going through emotional stuff, not progressing anywhere. The Lion King is one of the rare times I remember them balancing this out, but when you think of a movie like Frozen, you can notice the problem I'm talking about. And, if you look closer at some other Disney movies, you'll see that this is a problem quite a few of them posses.

While Disney had their formula down right out of the gate, Dreamworks took a while to get up on its feet. It wasn't really well known and they hadn't really decided what they wanted to do with themselves yet. That is, until Shrek came out. That little smash hit got Dreamworks on the odd-ball band wagon that they've been riding ever since. Dreamworks isn't really known for anything, seeing as how they've covered so many diverse story lines. However, if you watch enough of their movies, you can see that that is really what they're all about: diversity. This studio has come up with so many beloved characters and so many good story lines without any of them being the same. They've also mastered being able to tell a story that's been told many times before and still make it feel fresh. Not only is their storytelling style different from Disney's, but their animation is, too. Rather than conform to some generic animation and character designs, they come up with unique character concepts and fun, colorful animation.

What really sets Dreamworks apart from Disney, though, are the guts. Dreamworks takes really big risks, as far as children's entertainment is concerned, that you won't ever see Disney taking. The lack of musical numbers leaves time for deeper character development, a lot of their films are focused more on intense action, and, probably riskiest of all, their films contain elements and themes that can be deep, and even challenging, for younger audiences. If you watch The Rise of the Guardians, you can see really complex ideas and themes explored that younger kids won't get. The maturity of these films is a lot better than Disney, but it still provides that fun entertainment factor for kids. So, it's still okay to show them Kung Fu Panda.

Synopsis: While I did grow up with Disney and a lot of their material and formulas still hold up to this day, I gotta say I find myself leaning more towards Dreamworks. As I grow older, I still do enjoy Disney, like I said before, but I find myself attracted to Dreamworks' more mature tone and action packed films. Deeper character development leaders to a more emotionally fueled story, which Dreamworks does like a champ. So, by all means, raise your kids up on Disney. Then, when they get older, show them Dreamworks movies and they'll probably enjoy that more.

Winner: Dreamworks


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