This week, coinciding with the theatrical release of Shrek Forever After, a pair of DreamWorks Animation productions get budget one-disc DVD rereleases (under $10). Despite the explicit marketing tie-in (“From the studio that brought you Shrek”), both films are traditional hand-drawn cel animation with nothing to connect them to Shrek in look or in spirit.
Neither did well at the box office, but one did better with the critics than the other — the wrong one, in my opinion. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was dismissed by the critics, but I think it’s a remarkably effective animated swashbuckler that’s a lot of fun and more thoughtful than one might expect. My short review, from a DVD capsule, doesn’t do it justice; I’d like to expand it this week but I don’t know if I’ll have time.
Critics were kinder to the previous year’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. I caught Spirit at a theatrical sneak peek with my family. Boy, was I sorry afterward I had brought them, especially seven-year-old Sarah, who I think was pretty shell-shocked by the film.
Fortunately, Sarah (now 15) has gotten a great deal of enjoyment from the scathing review I wrote as a result, a “gimmick” essay featuring an imaginary dialogue between a DreamWorks exec and his child. (The exec is specified as “Daddy” because I needed the cue to keep the speakers clear. The child could be a boy or a girl, but I imagine it as a girl, perhaps because of Sarah.) At any rate, it’s still one of my favorites.