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Early Installment Weirdness / Animated Films

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  • The first Alpha and Omega film is different from its sequels in four ways. The first is that it is the only film released in theaters; meanwhile, the rest are Direct-to-DVD. Secondly, Kate and Humphrey's pups, who are the stars of the sequels, are absent, since this film shows how their parents met and fell in love. Third, the animation quality is higher. Lastly, the first film's animals are less anthropomorphized than in the sequels.
  • Despicable Me: The soundtrack features a song called Minion Mambo that's credited as being sung by The Minions. However, instead of Pierre Coffin doing the voice of the Minions, they're voiced by Lupe Fiasco (with his voice being sped-up) and they're speaking English instead of Minionese. The song also has a verse that says "we don't die, we multiply", something that has been disproven in later entries.
  • DreamWorks Animation:
    • Amongst their first films, The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas were traditionally animated instead of the now-omnipresent CGI. Also, Prince and Spirit were serious dramas, and Road and Sinbad were adventure films that contained many comedic elements, both in stark comparison to the zaniness the studio developed by Shrek (even if later franchises like Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon showed that they could still be a little more serious when called for).
    • On the CGI side of the library, their very first release, Antz is clearly aimed more towards older audiences, featuring mature themes, and petty swearing, among other things, while later DWA films are clearly aimed toward family audiences.
  • Ice Age:
    • The first film featured humans and portrayed all of the animal characters more realistically (they usually walked like actual animals and could not speak to humankind). In the sequels however, the tone turned Lighter and Softer, all of the humans are written out of existence, and all of the animals are now the main inhabitants of the world.
    • The original movie had David Newman to compose the score, while John Powell composed the score for all the sequels (until John Debney replaced him for the 5th installment). As a result, this makes the original movie's soundtrack stick out from the sequels like a sore thumb.
  • The first film in The Land Before Time series is the only one that is not a musical, and it has significantly higher animation quality and a much darker tone. Also, hadrosaurs are called "bigmouths" instead of "swimmers".
  • Madagascar:
    • In the first film, Melman the giraffe is slightly less neurotic than he is in later installments. He also speaks with a slight Brooklyn accent, and in some scenes even shows hints of a Brooklyn attitude.
    • The three penguins that aren't Skipper are clearly different from each other in the first film, but as a whole act more as goofy slapstick secret agent parodies. It wasn't until the second film that their personalities started to get fleshed out more.
    • The first film had a dramatic moment near the end, but overall focused much more heavily on fast-paced humor and pop culture references than the (somewhat) more emotional later films. Also, it takes place in Madagascar.
    • The characters' movements were much stiffer and bouncy than the latter films which have more fluid and smoother movements. It was also slower paced and felt like a bunch of related shorts put together instead of a consistent plot.
  • Shrek: The first film had more adult humour and was much more satire-based (with Lord Farquaad looking like then-Disney CEO Micheal Eisner). Also, since they weren't created at the time, it was the only instalment where neither Puss in Boots nor Far Far Away appear.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has a couple compared to the rest of the Disney Animated Canon:
    • The Unshaved Mouse noted in his review that the film was really more like a collection of Disney shorts edited together as part of a feature film - as there are extended sequences of Snow White cleaning the house, the dwarfs searching downstairs, a song and dance scene etc. The film is overall quite light on plot compared to the films that followed.
    • There's also less Adaptation Expansion than Disney would later be known for. It's pretty much a feature length straight adaptation of the original fairy tale - only missing the two extra attempts by the Queen to kill Snow White. The only additions are that the prince comes into the story earlier and that the dwarfs have more defined personalities. Contrast the next fairy tale Cinderella, which was much more obviously a Disney created interpretation.
  • Toy Story:
    • While the composition of the elements is still impressive, watching the original Toy Story over 20 years later it's noticeable how certain textures (hair and fabric) are left rather ambiguous and that the faces of human characters other than Sid are often out of frame. This was due to the technology not yet being at point where it could render organic things realistically: it wasn't until The Incredibles that they took the plunge and made a film about people, and then highly stylised.
    • The first Toy Story film is noticeably a lot darker and more adult in tone compared to its three sequels, relying far more on frightening imagery, dark humour and character conflict; Woody in particular is noticeably quite arrogant and aggressive in the original film, and at times, physically violent. Even small things, such as sound effects, are a lot harsher than its sequels, and the film contains some pretty grotesque and unnerving visuals (in the United Kingdom, it's the only Toy Story film to receive a "Parental Guidance" certificate). The third film does bring back some of this darkness, however.
    • The film is also remarkably low-key compared to the bombastic flourishes of later films in the series.
    • Toy Story doesn't have Pixar's Vanity Plate shown before the film (although it does appear after the credits). Instead, the Walt Disney Pictures logo, rather than fading to black, actually transitions into the movie proper, by having the camera pan away from the castle until it fades into the wallpaper of Andy's room. Retconned with the 3D re-release in 2009, as it opened with the current Disney logo and the Pixar logo.
  • DC Animated Movie Universe:
  • The story treatment for the first animated film of The Hobbit (sadly existing only in an Ashcan Copy, available here) has some pretty headscratching ideas for the plot, including a romance subplot with a princess for Bilbo. That has a lot to do with the fact that back in 1966, when the Ashcan Copy version was made, let alone in the years before that when the intended film was stuck in development, the full extent of Tolkien's legendarium and ideas was not yet known - it was over a decade before the publication of The Silmarillion, and The Lord of the Rings was only just crossing the threshold from an obscure novel by an eccentric professor to being Vindicated by History.