DreamWorks Animation has been putting out popular and critically acclaimed CG animated films for over a decade now with movies such as Madagascar, Shark Tale, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens and the hugely successful Shrek franchise. If yesterday's presentation by DreamWorks Animation at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles was any indication, 2010 is going to feature some of the company's best films yet. Executives including Jeffrey Katzenberg, actors like Gerard Butler and Jonah Hill, animators and press gathered to get a sneak peak at DreamWorks Animation's 2010 film slate, which includes MegaMind, a new take on the super-hero/super-villain relationship, Shrek Forever After, the final chapter of the beloved series and How To Train Your Dragon based on the popular children's book. All of the film presentations were works-in-progress and featured some un-finalized sequences and/or temporary music.
First up we were given a sneak peak at about ten minuets of the new film MegaMind, opening in November and produced by Ben Stiller. The film offers a different twist on the super-hero genre as the film is told from the point of view of the villain, MegaMind played by Will Ferrell. In the scene we saw, the hero, Metro Man (Brad Pitt) is being honored by the city when MegaMind kidnaps his girlfriend Roxanne Ritchi, played by Tina Fey. However while trying to save Roxanne, MegaMind, along with his hapless assistant (David Cross), accidentally kills Metro Man. After the clip it was explained that now with no one left to fight, MegaMind doesn't feel as satisfied as he thought he would so he creates a new super-hero to battle named Titan. Titan is really Roxanne's former cameraman, Hal and voiced by actor/comedian Jonah Hill. The only problem is that Titan doesn't want to be a hero. He wants to be a villain so he sets out to destroy the world. Now MegaMind finds himself in the unusual position of having to be a hero.
We spoke to Hill about his role and his character's big arc. "That's why I was so excited for MegaMind not just to be part of the movie because I think the idea is really cool but because I get to be the guy who he creates to be a good guy and then ends up being a bad guy," the actor explained. "I just think it's really cool that everything you think is going to happen kind of gets reversed and I think that's really awesome and it's so funny too." The actor continued to discuss further his character's transformation. "He kind of gets more confidence. I think he's a guy who's been treated poorly throughout his life and then once he gets powers, instead of turning good he's had people be so mean to him I think that he just becomes very aggressively monstrous towards them. One guy is more used to taking beatings from people and then one guy doesn't have to do it any more," he explained to describe the difference.
Next, we were given a sneak peak at the first half-hour of Shrek Forever After the final chapter of the Shrek franchise. Although our presentation was not in 3D, the film will be when it is released on May 21st. Much like the previous films, the opening is told through a storybook with a narrator. Only this time it is revealed to be an evil man named Rumpelstiltskin. Rumpelstiltskin sums up the last three films for the audience with one exception, we find out that right before Shrek saved Fiona in the first film, her parents the King and Queen went to Rumpelstiltskin for help. The fairytale dwarf is depicted here as a devil-like dealmaker and in return for reversing Fiona's spell they would have turn over their kingdom to him. After Shrek saves Fiona, reversing the spell and saving the king and queen from agreeing to the little man's deal, Rumpelstiltskin becomes furious and swears revenge. We then pick up where we left off as Shrek and Fiona have a happy family with their three kids, living alongside Donkey, his wife the dragon, his children and of course, Puss in Boots.
As time goes on we see that Shrek begins to become tired and bored with his life, longing for the days where he could lay in a mud bath in peace. With his sudden celebrity and "nice-guy" Ogre image beginning to wear thin on the green guy, he happens to meet (you guessed it) Rupelstiltskin. He makes Shrek an offer; give up one day from his youth for one day as a scary Ogre again. Shrek agrees but after a few fun minutes of scaring some townsfolk like the old days, Shrek realizes that he actually liked things the way they were. With Donkey not recognizing him and unable to find Fiona and the kids, Shrek heads out to find the little man responsible for all of this. Rumpelstiltskin is now king and runs the kingdom, which has become one giant rave for witches. He explains to Shrek the ramifications of his deal. You see, Rumpelstiltskin was free to choose any day to take and he took the day Shrek was born. At the end of the day Shrek will no longer exist and the effects will be permanent. The clip stopped there but it was explained that the only way Shrek can reverse the spell is to receive truelove's kiss. However, with Shrek never being born, thus never saving Fiona, it is unclear if she is still in the tower or somewhere else. All of the character's original voice-actors return to reprise their roles including Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. They are joined by new additions Kathy Griffin, Jane Lynch from Fox's Glee, Jon Hamm from AMC's Mad Men and Megan Fox as the Princess from Rumpelstiltskin.
Finally, we were among the first to see the new 3D animated film How To Train Your Dragon before it's March release. In fact, we were the fist audience to hear The Bourne Supremacy composer John Powell's score, which was only a temp and won't even be recorded until next Tuesday. The film's directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois who directed Lilo & Stitch were on hand to introduce the film. All I can say about it is that it's definitely very good. And should be a huge crowd pleaser. The movie is based on the popular children's novel by British author Cressida Cowell, who was in the audience. The film features a talented cast of voice actors including Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wigg.