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‘Megamind’ and the Future of Straight-to-Streaming Movies

The sequel to the 2010 animated film ‘Megamind’ is not only really bad, but also perhaps a dangerous look into the future of animation on streaming.

Frame from 'Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate'
Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Part of me wanted to start with a reference to Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate, with the sentence “Hello loyal readers!” Then, I remembered that I and this magazine are more respectful and qualitative than that. That’s more value than this movie could ever offer.

There is nothing resembling anything of value or quality here. Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate is a net negative for the personal and the cultural. But, it’s not just the movie that’s worth discussion. Watching this, I was reminded of those Disney straight-to-video sequel movies, and I thought “Are those coming back? Are they just moving to streaming?”

‘Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate’ – The Horrors

Megamind Looking into the Camera
Megamind in Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate looking into the camera. Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Since the trailer had dropped, most peoples’ reactions were a collective “no.” The trailer almost acts as a warning to the horrors that await. However, even with preparation, you still won’t be ready. Without hyperbole or exaggeration, Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate is one of the worst movies made in the 21st century.

Yes, the animation is terrible. It looks like that 2008 spinoff TV show, Penguins of Madagascar. An animated official sequel in 2024 – made 14 years after the original – somehow looks worse than the original. I can only imagine the budget, which is funnily enough not available to find anywhere.

The plot itself is almost headache inducing. In terms of a sequel, it goes against the story of the original and disregards any character growth or background. In terms of its own existence, there is no tension and the writing is simply atrocious.

Oh! And, the original cast is gone. Will Ferrell? Tina Fey? Jonah Hill? Brad Pitt? David Cross? J. K. Simmons? This star-studded cast? Yeah, not in the sequel. The new voice actors range anywhere from half-descent to half-ass, and none carry any of the charm of the original cast.

So, the animation is terrible, the writing is terrible, and the casting is terrible. That cinematic feeling is gone and it feels like a low-rate spin-off TV show, like Back at the Barnyard. All that for a sequel to a 14-year-old movie that didn’t do financially or critically well upon release. Why do this? Why make this?

Reality of Animated Movies & Sequels

Yes, the animation is terrible. It looks like that 2008 spinoff TV show, Penguins of Madagascar. An animated official sequel in 2024 – made 14 years after the original – somehow looks worse than the original. I can only imagine the budget, which is funnily enough not available to find anywhere.

The plot itself is almost headache inducing. In terms of a sequel, it goes against the story of the original and disregards any character growth or background. In terms of its own existence, there is no tension and the writing is simply atrocious.

Oh! And, the original cast is gone. Will Ferrell? Tina Fey? Jonah Hill? Brad Pitt? David Cross? J. K. Simmons? This star-studded cast? Yeah, not in the sequel. The new voice actors range anywhere from half-descent to half-ass, and none carry any of the charm of the original cast.

So, the animation is terrible, the writing is terrible, and the casting is terrible. That cinematic feeling is gone and it feels like a low-rate spin-off TV show, like Back at the Barnyard. All that for a sequel to a 14-year-old movie that didn’t do financially or critically well upon release. Why do this? Why make this?

Reality of Animated Movies & Sequels

Megamind going all out on presentation
Megamind in Megamind going all out on presentation. Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Let’s be real here. Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate was not made as a love letter to fans. It was made for profit. With animation studios like Disney or Dreamworks that focus on 3D animation – which is more expensive than 2D – profit is the goal.

Michael Eisner, ex-CEO of Disney, once stated that their obligation is to make money. It is not to make art, history, or a statement, but to make money. For the record, Eisner was the same CEO who ushered in the Disney Renaissance in the 1990’s, but also those Disney straight-to-video sequels.

The straight-to-video can be best described as “cash grabs.” These were quickly made methods to capitalize off of the success of both their recent films and their classic catalog. They range anywhere from unwanted sequels, to nonessential midquels, to backdoor pilot episodes for cancelled TV shows. Some are decent, most are terrible, but they pretty much all made money, and that was what mattered.

That’s honestly what watching Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate felt like. It felt like one of those Disney straight-to-video movies, only made by DreamWorks and being straight-to-streaming instead. But, that’s the more worrying thing about this whole thing: the streaming side of things.

Streaming: Movies into Content

Megamind on the phone at a party
Megamind in Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate on the phone at a party. Credit: DreamWorks Animation

People may have not liked what Martin Scorsese said about streaming turning cinema into content, but he was right. What becomes important is not the film or TV show itself, but a relation it has to an established audience and market.

When a piece of media is made and released directly into streaming, how do you guarantee it a hit? You can’t measure ticket sales or DVD or Blu-Ray sales, but you can measure subscriptions and ad revenue. Paid plans with ads pay a lot more than without, but you gotta give them something to watch.

Consider Disney+. Their cheapest subscription plan has ads, so you’re guaranteed to watch them. The studio recently had many Pixar films released straight-to-streaming, compared to Disney originals where there was some time between a theatrical and streaming release. Disney even stopped releasing physical media in Australia.

And of course, their library – their content. They not only have every piece Disney and Pixar media, but all of Star Wars and most of Marvel, too. How many of those recent Marvel or Star Wars have been overall enjoyed, or even wanted? Even if you didn’t like them or don’t consider them canon, people still watched them. Same with the straight-to-video Disney sequels – same with Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate.

It’s not about the quality of the film, the art, the history, or the statement. It’s about the money, the ad revenue, the content. The goal is to push a product, not a film. It should’ve been more clear with the sequel to Megamind, considering DreamWorks also released the first season of the spinoff TV show at the same time. No, I didn’t watch it, and you don’t need to either.

Dangers to Animation with Streaming

Megamind being lost and confused after taking the city with Minion
Megamind in Megamind being lost and confused after taking the city with Minion. Credit: DreamWorks Animation

When I saw Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate, I was not only suffering severe brain rot, but also worried for animation. I’m worried that there will be a cultural shift to seeing animated films and TV shows more as content than anything. I’m aware of great animated media being released everyday, but nobody sells like Disney.

I wish not to have the most capable and powerful form of visual storytelling and entertainment as content – something to consume. I don’t know if something like Loving Vincent – a film made entirely with oil canvas paintings in the style of Vincent van Gogh – could be made today.

This laziness and lack of intent aside from money is an old cancer that’s killing the beauty of animation. That may be hyperbole, but all I’m asking is “what do we need?” We don’t need a Kung Fu Panda 4, we don’t need a Despicable Me 4, we don’t need a Disney short depicting Carl going on his first date since Ellie’s death, and we don’t need Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate.

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