Review by Michael Jacobson
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow
Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2001
where is this fire-breathing pain in the neck, anyway?”
the tower. Waiting for us to rescue
was talking about the DRAGON, Shrek.”
animation has come a long way since Toy Story first sparkled on the big
screen…in fact, the medium has grown by so many leaps and bounds, it has
become one of the most consistently exciting genres in cinema today.
has been a studio on the forefront of this animation form…their revolutionary ANTZ
was remarkable in its new software technology that allowed for the most
realistic facial animations ever seen up to that point.
With the release of Shrek, they’ve built upon that foundation,
and taken it in stunning new directions.
creatures, whether human or fantasy figures, are remarkably realistic.
They have texture, dimension, emotion, and lifelike movements and
expressions, which all help to bring a fantastic world to more vivid life than
had been possible in conventional animation.
But even better, the film is entertaining and funny…DAMN funny.
a story about an ogre named Shrek (Myers) who lives a lonely and misunderstood
life in his little swamp. His only
visitors are the torch waving mobs who want to kill him, but end up too scared to
act. “Psst,” Shrek tells them
helpfully, “this is the part where you run away.”
when the evil (and short) Lord Farquaad (Lithgow) banishes all fairy tale
creatures from his land, Shrek finds his beloved swamp overrun with wolves,
pigs, fairies, puppets, and even seven little dwarfs (“No, no, no!
Dead broad OFF the table!”). Frustrated
but determined to get his home back, he sets off to petition Farquaad with an
unwelcome traveling companion, a tiny talking donkey (Murphy) (“Talking’s
not the problem…it’s getting him to SHUT UP that’s the trick!”).
who wants to be king but can’t unless he marries a princess, makes a counter
offer: if Shrek will rescue the
princess Fiona (Diaz) from her tower and bring her to him, he will restore
Shrek’s swamp. The catch, of
course, is a fire breathing dragon guarding the tower, along with a moat of hot
lava surrounding the castle. And
Shrek, who never wanted to be a hero, reluctantly agrees to the mission.
is not exactly a kids’ cartoon, to be sure…many of the jokes, including the
digs at Disney, double entendres and such will probably be over many tykes’
heads…the adults will laugh at them, while both they and the children will no
doubt be captivated by the film’s gorgeous visual stylings.
The level of detail from the texture of rocks to the leaves on the trees
is stunning and remarkable throughout, making Shrek’s world a fully
realized and functional one, and a great setting for some hysterical comedy.
cast is perfect, starting with Myers’ Scottish brogue as Shrek…he invests
the character with plenty of humor, but heart as well. And I’ve become convinced that if Murphy chose never to
step in front of a camera again that he could make a great living with his
voiceover work…as Donkey, he brings a joyous, smart ass (no pun intended)
sense of life to one of the year’s most memorable supporting characters.
only thing the story could have used was a better villain.
Lithgow does a terrific voice, but Farquaad is seriously underdeveloped.
He never seems threatening or imposing, which is a big mistake for an
animated film. He serves the story
more as a McGuffin than as an antagonist…he gets the tale rolling, but
doesn’t serve it much in any other way.
that’s a small complaint…the story isn’t nearly as big an attraction here
as the humor and visuals, and the movie offers both of those in abundance.
Not lost in the mix is a nice little moral, too, about not judging by
a summer that won’t go down as one of cinema’s most memorable ones, it’s
no wonder that Shrek towered above the competition.
A remarkable achievement that arrived with superb timing, this is a hit
picture that definitely deserved its box office dollars and it’s accolades.
animated DVDs are amongst some of the best looking ones on the market, and Shrek
adds to that reputation. This
is a flawless transfer from beginning to end, and one that savors every
digitally created moment to perfection. From
the wide array of colors to the simulated lighting effects, to the rich,
remarkable detail in every frame, this movie rings out with crystal clarity from
start to finish without a single flaw to muck up the works…don’t bother
looking for grain, shimmer or other compression artifacts; they aren’t there.
Reference quality all the way.
Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (DTS also included) was good, but a bit of a
disappointment. I was expecting
much better things from it…though both front and rear stages get a good share
of work in, and crossovers and pans are smooth and fluent, there is very little
use of the .1 channel…in fact, I only noticed it coming to life maybe once or
twice during the film, and only briefly. Certain
scenes could have benefited from a stronger bottom end.
Dynamic range is fairly good, but again, not as strong as I would have
preferred…maybe the DTS track would be an improvement, but fans with Dolby
Digital receivers might find this otherwise good soundtrack a little less
stellar than they hoped for.
features are plentiful…I only wish they had all been on the same disc!
If you go looking for all of them, you’ll find a funny and entertaining
filmmaker commentary (on the widescreen disc), plus “interviews” with the
four main characters, a behind the scenes featurette (with cast and crew
interviews), a lively “Shrek in the Swamp” Karaoke Dance Party (it will
floor you), technical goofs (see how one wrong keystroke turned Donkey into a
Chia Pet), an in-depth look at the “Tech of Shrek” (a must-see for computer
buffs), hints for the Xbox game, a progression reel for the character design, a
featurette on the international dubbing of the movie, trailer, production notes,
talent files, and some hidden fun facts along the way.
only reservation? I wish all the
features had been on one disc instead of spread out over the two.
The full frame version of the movie wasn’t needed at all, so a better
package would have included the widescreen presentation on Disc One and all the
features on Disc Two.
probably be the biggest DVD seller this year, and it certainly merits it.
A funny, entertaining film attractively packaged on a double disc set
from Dreamworks? You can’t go