Hello, Spongey here.
Well, here’s a surprise general review. Things have uh…changed even further since our last one, eh? I don’t have time to go into things you already know but the short version is that Universal pissed off AMC and Warner Bros is very bad at business. However, the latter did get resolved in an interesting way.
Basically, their movies will still go to theaters but there will be a short window where soon after it will hit VOD, just like with Trolls World Tour earlier his year, I think that’s a good way to do it, instead of having it be like that the same day or whatever. I’m optimistic regarding the theatrical experience but that’s a matter for elsewhere.
This matter is about a new DreamWorks movie, that is also a sequel. Back in 2013, they had The Croods, which I talked about it in the link above. I enjoyed it well enough and I feel the same upon re-watching it again. It doesn’t feel like anything too special as far as story goes, but it has great animation and decent characters. It’s just a fun little movie that doesn’t raise above that, which is fine.
After it became a hit, they announced a sequel soon after and in 2014 they said it would come out in 2017. When Comcast bought out Dreamworks in 2016, the film was sheleved and then canned. Instead, they did that Netflix show which seemed to be a replacement for a sequel.
But then in 2017 they randomly announced that it was back on track, and after some Pandemic troubles, it is here and it hit theaters a month earlier than expected. It’s so weird following all this given not many seem to care that much now. But hey, it can still be good.
I noticed DreamWorks sequel almost always tend to be better than the first, or at least on par. We saw that with Trolls 2 already this year, so we’ll see if this keeps up that trend.
As for the crew, Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco sadly stepped down. In their place as director is Joel Crawford, with this being his film debut. He previously did the Trolls Holiday Special and was a story artist at DreamWorks in general.
We’ve got four writers. Our first two were on Scary Stories to tell in the Dark and some animated series like Trollhunters. The other two worked on The LEGO Ninjago Movie.
With that covered, will this first family manage to make for a good second outing? Let’s see.
This, is The Croods: A New Age
Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs. Unfortunately, they must also learn to live with the Bettermans — a family that’s a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. As tensions between the new neighbors start to rise, a new threat soon propels both clans on an epic adventure that forces them to embrace their differences, draw strength from one another, and survive together.
This movie was about on par with the first one to me. As in, I liked it fine, but it’s not something that will really stick with me per say. The pros and cons balance out to an enjoyable family film that doesn’t totally outdo the first one but it is at least on the same level, for the most part.
I said the first movie just had this aura of being not too special, with the just okay story and this is sort of the same way, It’s hard to exactly the problems, as it’s more of a feeling I got. I will say the first movie was a bit funnier as this had a few more cheap easy jokes, I also think it balanced the characters better. It feels like some didn’t have as much as to do and the balancing did seem off as to juggle Eep, Guy, Grugg and the Bettermans.
The brother is also there I guess and the Grandma seemingly doesn’t do as much but she does get one cool aspect later on. The pacing in general is mostly okay until the third act. It’s not even 90 minutes without credits yet it feels longer because the third act goes for on quite a while and just keeps adding things. Most of it works fine, but man it got to be too much at a certain point.
Otherwise, this was fun enough. The first act struggles a bit at first since it has establish and re-establish things for it picks once the Bettermans come in. I thought they were decent characters with Leslise Mann, Peter Dinklage and Kelly Marie Tran doing pretty well as them. Although I wish there something with the moms given that the dads and daughters get stuff together.
Dawn in partciular manages to be solid and her interactions with Eep were a highlight for me. They were so enjoyable together that…yep, it creates a Mal/Evie situation, yay. Eep and Guy are pushed further here but for most of it they are either at odds or don’t interact quite as much.They’re fine but Eep and Dawn were better.
That leads me to another positive. Guy actually knows The Bettermans and they their connection was interesting. We get more backstory on Guy that I liked, added a bit more to him even if they could have done more in some ways, Anyway, he knows Dawn and I thought for sure they’d do that thing, where Eep would get really jealous and it would be annoying.
But surprisingly, they didn’t do it. As I said, Eep and Dawn get along well, and Guy doesn’t even interact with Dawn that much on her own. That was refreshing so kudos there. I like that, much like the first one, this doesn’t quite have a villain per say. The Bettermans are almost that but turn out to be more nuanced-ish. Really, the villain is the world around them, including the dangerous animals. The climax kind of adds one and that is part of the fatigue issue I mentioned but conceptually it is fine.
And just like before, the animation is strong. There’s some cool creature designs, especially in the climax and the area where the film is mostly set is pretty nice looking. I feel like the first had more variety but there was plenty put into the look of this as well.
I don’t think there’s too much else to say, to be honest. How does it compare to the first for me? Well, the first was better paced and balanced the family better but this has some more interesting story elements. I think they are about on the same level, not better or worse by a lot. So I guess it keeps that streak in the sense that it isn’t easily weaker and a few of the other examples are more like this than being easily better.
Overall, no matter which one is better, I did like this. It’s nothing super memorable and it has some pacing problems but it has decent new characters, nice moments and more really good animation. Once it got more into the plot, I was able to get into this sequel fine. I know this isn’t the most ringing endorsement ever but given how I felt about the first movie, it fits.
If you liked the first one, you’ll also like this. If you didn’t, this won’t sway you that much. It’s as simple as that. Not too much else, just a fine little sequel to a fine little movie.
So I guess I liked it more than Trolls World Tour, even if I imagine that will end up making a bigger impact overall. It’s nice to do another general review out. Next time, join me on Christmas Day as we’ll see if Pixar’s latest has a soul. ….I tried.