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SHREK 2

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Jennifer Saunders, Rupert Everett
Directors:  Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Dreamworks
Features:  See Review
Length:  92 Minutes
Release Date:  November 5, 2004

“This is Fiona’s choice.”

“Yes, but she was supposed to choose the prince WE picked out for her!”

Film ***

Once upon a time, a handsome prince charming set out to rescue a lovely princess from a terrible spell with a kiss.  Sadly for him, he arrived too late…but lucky for us, a plucky ogre had beaten him to the punch!

Shrek 2 is a continuation of that story.  When we last left Shrek (Myers) and Fiona (Diaz), they had just joined up in wedded bliss and were ready to settle happily every after in the swamp.  But as it turns out, only one thing could scare an ogre like Shrek…in-laws.

Reluctantly accepting an invitation from Fiona’s parents, the king (Cleese) and queen (Andrews) of Far Far Away, the newlyweds set off with their furry sidekick Donkey (Murphy) across a fairy tale land to their kingdom, only to find that the royal couple aren’t too keen with their daughter’s choice of beau!

As it turns out, Fiona’s Fairy Godmother (Saunders) had designs of her own…namely, for her son Prince Charming (Everett) to wed Fiona, turn her back into a human, and inherit the kingdom in the process!  And now that Shrek is having some doubts about his ability to make Fiona happy, the time has come for her to make her move.

But you can’t keep a good ogre down, and soon Shrek and Donkey team up with a new hero, the plucky Puss in Boots (the delightful Banderas).  Together, they decide to use a bit of the Fairy Godmother’s own magic against her, and possibly give Shrek the identity he needs to make things right for his bride and her family!

Shrek first gave audiences a taste of a computer animated world of wonder where fairy tales came to life and the potential for spoof and satire seemed endless.  Shrek 2 offers more great comedy…my favorite gag involved a certain mermaid we all know and love.  Great stuff!

The magic comes again not only from the animation, but from the spirited cast.  Mike Myers continues to embody Shrek with all the heart and unease we’ve come to love from him, while Eddie Murphy keeps Donkey as a comedy relief extraordinaire.  But audience’s hearts went out to Puss in Boots, a smooth, lovable kitty who simply HAD to be voiced by Antonio Banderas.

But however you measure the formula, the end result was a smashing success…Shrek 2 became the biggest box office hit of the year, and would no doubt like to follow its predecessor to Oscar glory.  It’s a colorful, cheerful crowd pleaser from top to bottom.

Video ****

Dreamworks makes great looking DVDs, and their animated offerings continue to excel.  Shrek 2 is a visual banquet, with beautiful colors and impressive detail all the way.  Lines are crisp and clear, and no compression, grain or undue artifacts spoil the terrific overall effect.

Audio ****

The 5.1 soundtrack is lively and clean, with plenty of animated action to keep front and rear stages busy.  The use of music throughout, especially incorporated popular songs into key scenes, is quite nicely done.  Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, and dynamic range is strong.

Features ****

The menu pops up, and…you’re looking at a Brady Bunch screen with all the characters from the movie!  You can listen to their banter, or pick the square that takes you where you want to go.

There are two commentary tracks, one by the directors, one by the producer and the editor.  Several production featurettes take you into the making of the movie, or to meet the talented cast, or an up close look at Puss in Boots.  Computer glitches were chronicled in a strange but funny gag reel of sorts.  And you can take a look at sneak peek of Dreamworks Animation’s next feature, Madagascar.

The Dreamworks Kids selection will keep the little ones happy, with over twenty games and activities, along with a music video from Counting Crows and a sing-along with the Fairy Godmother.  You can also read some funny articles in the Far Far Away Times, or read more about the production notes and cast members.

Finally, you can sit in on a session of Far Far Away Idol, hosted by none other than Simon Cowell himself!  After listening to the characters sing their hearts out, you get to choose the winner…very clever, and lots of fun!

Summary:

Shrek 2 is an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree…it’s more animated hijinks and hilarity with colorful characters that we’ve come to know and love.  Amusingly recommended.

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