I just watched Pixar's new animated feature The Incredibles last night, and Dreamwork's Shark Tale last week, and I have to say that there was no contest whatsoever. The Incredibles is EASILY the best animated feature this year, beating even Shrek 2.
A full review of The Incredibles is in the works. Meanwhile, you can check out this review on Shark's Tale in Purple Sofa (3 out of 5 stars is a bit generous, Irene...).
Meanwhile, here is a short comparison between the two:
The Incredibles: The animation was great (it is the first time Pixar has done a feature that used human characters). The facial expressions were brilliantly done (then again, if they can make a FISH look sad, how hard can a human sad-face be?)
Shark Tale: No complaints here, to tell the truth. Not a very realistic undersea-world like Finding Nemo (the fish 'walk' upright, and use their fins like hands), but it's colorful.
The Incredibles: Although mildly predictable and straightforward, the story about a family of superheroes still manages to entertain without being too cliched. Sure, there's the usual 'super-villain-destroying-world' thingy, but one gets the feeling that Pixar played that up that cliche rather than being unintentionally corny. In actual fact, I think the main story ISN'T the superheroes fighting the villain, but about the way their family comes together.
Shark Tale: Fish dreams of becoming famous. Vegetarian shark wants to 'come out of the closet'. Fish lies about killing vegetarian shark's brother and becomes famous. Mafia shark boss comes after fish for killing son. Fish and friends save the day and start dancing in car wash. Blah. Cliche after cliche, spoof after spoof, and stereotype after stereotype. The story has such a 'been there, done that' feel to it that one gets bored after the first fifteen minutes, and the jokes are very predictable.
The Incredibles: As usual, Pixar's strongest suit. The characters in the movie are well-scripted, with the stereotypical American family of a working father, a homemaker mom, a confused teenage daughter, a hyper-active brat of a son, and a cute baby. (Sounds like The Simpsons eh?). Add in their superpowers, and it makes for a lot of fun. The strongest character is Elastigirl (the mom), while Dash (the son) and Violet (the daughter) working together is more interesting to watch than when they are apart. Mr Incredible and Syndrome (the bad guy) are pretty standard feature characters, and I would have prefered more of Frozone.
Shark Tale: Stereotype after stereotype again. None of the characters stand out for the right reasons, and I couldn't feel ANYTHING for them. Only De Niro's Mafia boss shark Don Lino was interesting, while the rest were just boring. Oscar the main character is irritating (mostly because of Will Smith, more on that later), Angie (Zellweger) and Lola (Jolie) are just token female characters, and Lenny (Jack Black) is just annoying.
The Incredibles: Helen Hunt and Samuel L. Jackson's voices are pretty obvious here, but that's about it. the rest of the cast are not super-big names like Shark Tale has, but they work a lot better. The rapport is great, and sound a lot more natural. IMHO, Hunt's performance stands out the most.
Shark Tale: Will Smith is... just... so... ANNOYING! I got sick of Oscar/Smith after his first scene, and it REALLY didn't help that many of the jokes were so predictable and so... Smith-ian than they didn't turn out funny at all. Zellweger was pretty flat, Jolie was her usual sensual self, while Jack Black is another who suffers from the cliched script. Only De Niro and Scorcese came out well in the movie.
The Incredibles: A movie that combines two of the most successful genres in recent years - superheroes and animation - is almost guaranteed to be a smash hit. And I have to say The Incredibles deserves it. I may be bias towards Pixar movies, but to tell the truth, they DO make entertaining movies. This movie works because it doesn't resort to the usual cliches and spoofs to get laughs, but is genuinely trying to make a good movie. It may not be as laugh-per-minute as Finding Nemo was, but it is still a solid offering from Pixar - heart-warming, action-packed, and entertainingly brilliant.
Shark Tale: I hardly laughed at all during the entire movie, which hardly reflects well on a movie that's supposed to make people laugh. This movie feels as though the makers wanted to go all out to beat Finding Nemo, which is fine by me. However, when they start resorting to cliches, old jokes, and WILL SMITH to try and draw laughs, it falls flat. Spoofing brands like Starbucks and Coca-Cola was funny the first time round when they appeared in Shrek, but here, it's just tired. Same goes for movie spoofs of Gladiator, The Godfather and so on (Tip: for a much-better spoof of Jerry McGuire's 'You had me at hello' line, check out Team America: World Police). My advice? skip this, and go watch Finding Nemo again.