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Shrek
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: Professor Steve
Shrek order
Director:
Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson

Actors:
Mike Myers
Eddie Murphy
Cameron Diaz

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) banishes all of our favorite fairy tale characters to live in a swamp, but its main inhabitant, Shrek (Myers), isn't too keen on that, so he makes a deal with Farquaad to rescue the Princess Fiona (Diaz) in exchange for getting his swamp back.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Heck yeah! This is probably the most entertaining computer-generated film to date, especially for adults. While TOY STORY 2 is comparable in graphic quality and characters, SHREK blows it away with a superb story and a ton of edgy humor and inside jokes. Disney and Pixar are probably kicking themselves because they didn't come up with this one, and it will probably be a while before something better comes along. The movie is chockfull of pop culture and current movie references, as well as a few catchy tunes by Smash Mouth, which you would think might date the film, but really just gives it more character. The style and design of the computer animation is great, and it really has a "look" to it that we haven't seen before. They also give us some of the first cgi humans we've seen in a movie, and they are pretty good, but it's amazing how boring we humans look next to a character like Shrek.

If you didn't see the huge-lettered star names on the marquee poster, you probably wouldn't be able to guess the voices (except for maybe Eddie Murphy) which are subtle, yet effective. Even Mike Myers' Fat Bastard-like voice grows on you after a while. Eddie Murphy's Donkey character is the most memorable - he's like a jackass doing stand-up comedy. Lithgow's Farquaad and Diaz's Fiona are fairly benign, but have their funny moments as well. I wished they gave some of the fairy tale characters bigger parts in the movie, like the Gingerbread Man, who gives Mr. Bill a run for his money. The best sequence is the rescue from the dragon's castle, which almost seems like it's from a Playstation game or something. The movie is fairly short, and you're itching for more when it's over - thank goodness SHREK 2 is in the works.
THE EXTRAS
The dvd has a great mix of extras, half of which appeal to kids and the other half to adult movie buffs. But while it's touted as having 11 hours of extras - it didn't seem like it to me.

There's an audio commentary with directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson along with producer Aaron Warner which is lively and informative, but I wish they would had talked some of the stars into showing up too. They cover some of the technical aspects of the film as well as the development of the story. There's a lot of "we could have done this" and "we did this, but it wasn't included", but it's great to hear them laugh at all the jokes and reminisce about making the movie. An HBO First Look feature is a worthwhile watch as well, with some interviews with the cast and crew, clips of the voice-over recordings, and a lot of behind-the-scenes hi-jinks.

Otherwise, I was a little disappointed with behind-the-scenes features, mainly because they were short and pretty basic. The Tech of Shrek covers the computer graphic wizardry used to make the film - but it's pretty short. It's amazing what a step up SHREK is from Dreamwork's last cgi movie ANTZ. There is a storyboard walk-through of some "outrageous" deleted scenes and a technical goof section with some cgi mistakes which just didn't impress me. The International dubbing featurette shows how they went about dubbing the film with different actors in different languages, but was kind of a bore.

There's a series of cast interviews with the animated characters which are pseudo-funny, but kind of cheesy overall. There's a limit to how funny an answer to "Did you do your own stunts?" can be. I was impressed with the Character Design Progression Reel though, and it was neat to see how they originally envisioned the characters and how they progressed to what we see in the movie.

Now to the fun stuff. There's a DWK (DreamWorks Kids) section which contains a bunch of games and clips of the film. On the dvd, you can't do much besides watch some of the Baha Men and Smash Mouth music videos and mess around with some simple games, but the DVD-ROM features are alone worth the price of the dvd. The Shrek's ReVoice Studio feature is the major highlight and is simply awesome. It's essentially a recording studio where you can record your own voice and match it to scenes in the movie. Each scene has about 4-6 lines, and once you're done recording each one, you can play the whole thing back and marvel at the results. Even if you hate your own voice, the results will come out great - really! There are 15 or so other games here, like seven dwarves bowling and a whack-a-mole soup game. The only game I was disappointed with was the pinball game...lame.

Rounding out the dvd are a trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, plugs for the Xbox game, etc...but one highlight was a cool sneak peak trailer to SPIRIT, an animated film coming out from Dreamworks next year about horses and the old west.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The movie alone is worth having on dvd, but the extras aren't too shabby either. If you can pop this puppy into the computer and enjoy the dvd-rom features, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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