Nic’s Review (20/08/2014):
‘Shark Tale’ is not just one of DreamWorks Animation’s worst films ever, it is one of the worst animated films I have ever seen.
It is relatively easy to see the inspiration behind the premise: ‘Let’s do for gangster films what ‘Shrek’ did for fairytales…but with fish because ‘Finding Nemo’ made a lot of money’. And so from this seed, DreamWorks grew this disaster.
Why this film fails so badly is not because it has fish, or that it channels ‘The Godfather’, its because the film serves as one big pop-culture inside joke that lacks any actual humour. Children won’t get many of the references while adults will gag at the immature fart gags (pun intended) and unfunny characters.
Oscar, the main protagonist, is so arrogant and unlikeable that he makes the villain seem loveable and his face is distractingly shaped like his voice actor, Will Smith. Lenny the Shark, played by Jack Black, meanwhile is plain annoying, and seriously, a vegetarian shark? A vegetarian shark?
Like ‘Shrek’, songs are used heavily, and while they never reach the levels of that franchise’s soundtrack, they’re hardly the worst part of the film.
But back to those pop-culture references and product placement. How can a fish own a Playstation? Why do they live in penthouse apartments? How do they know the ‘Jaws’ theme or the ‘Titanic’ one?
The animation itself is also terrible and loaded with errors, which makes it, like the story, come across as lazy.
‘Shark Tale’ is the manifestation of all that is wrong with DreamWorks Animation’s style and how far they had fallen by 2004 since their original vision of ‘The Prince of Egypt’ as a rival of Walt Disney Animation, or ‘Shrek’ when as competition for Pixar.
Lets hope it doesn’t get worse than this.
Daniel’s Review (24/03/2016):
“Stop! Oscar Time!”
DreamWorks Animation was regarded as an early rival to Pixar, producing hits both critically and financially with the first two ‘Shrek’ films, ‘Chicken Run’ and ‘The Prince of Egypt’, and while there was some stumbles, like ‘Road to El Dorado’ – that film was still enjoyable, but just wasn’t up to the standards of previous DWA films; but then there was ‘Shark Tale’, an animated film about fishes and sharks with an all-star cast and released a year after the global phenomenon that was ‘Finding Nemo’, but what could go wrong? A lot can go wrong as this film is lazy and uncreative which seems odd as this film was riding on the success of DWA’s past great films, that this was a complete misfire.
‘Shark Tale’ is about Oscar, who has a cool job working at the Whale Wash, is in debt and owes money to his boss Sykes as he owes five thousand clams, but instead he blows it on a seahorse race, and loses the money and the race, now tied up, he stumbles across a shark, only to get knocked out by a mysterious anchor (why the anchor was there, we will never know) and lies his way as he calls himself the sharkslayer.
The film suffers from lazy and poorly written characters, which you really don’t care about, we don’t care about Oscar, and he is really unlikeable and too selfish for making his problems bigger than they have to be.
And what is with all the pop culture references? ‘Shrek’ featured little, mostly because of the songs, but even that there was some pop culture references, it was mainly being a self-referential of clichéd fairy-tale tropes and being a parody of Disney fairy-tale movies, but in this movie, there are more pop songs, than there were featured in ‘Shrek’, and while you can look pass from the pop songs, you can’t look away from all the parodies of product placement, like Fish King, Cora-Cola, Kelp Kremes, Gup; the list is endless.
The story is fine, but the film’s message is pointless, he still ends up being a hero, even for lying about it by tricking the city that he is a sharkslayer. And yes, the film’s original title was better as the film was originally called ‘Sharkslayer’, but ‘Shark Tale’? It’s basically Oscar’s story, so it should have been titled as “Fish Tale”? While it could have work, between a fish and a vegetarian shark, the film just couldn’t make it work together.
‘Shark Tale’ is easily the most unimpressive DWA film produced so far, as it has some imagination, but in the end it just feels like a 90 minute product placement.