Shrek + 3D: The Story Continues
R4 - Australia - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (29th June 2004).
The Film

Having seen Shrek in the cinemas upon its first release I was quite impressed with the overall product. The story was sweet and well written, the voice acting by the four stars of the picture where spot on and gave life to the 3-D images in the most wonderful way and to compliment that the visuals where also a treat for the eyes. Dreamworks along with the gifted filmmakers created a funny and fantastic fairy tale that can be enjoyed by both adults and children.
Shrek was the second entirely computer animated feature film produced by Dreamworks, The first being Antz and with this exception their other previous animated films where traditional 2-D animations with some computer effects added in. Although Antz was a minor hit, it was largely overshadowed by Pixar's A Bug's Life, but it was Shrek that showed audiences that Pixar do not monopolise the CGI film market and really positioned Dreamworks as a major competitor in the genre. The gamble paid off and Shrek went on to gross gigantic numbers at the box office.
The story is rather simple and based on fairy tales that have been around for generations, but to sell it to mainstream audiences these fairy tales where given a bit of a spin in a very tongue and cheek fashion. The story begins with our reluctant hero Shrek (Mike Myers) who really treasures his privacy and really wants to live a simple life and not be disturbed by the everyday goings on of the world outside his swamp. Until one day his tranquillity is disturbed when the evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) decides to put an end to all fairy tale creatures and attempts to round them all up and banish them from his kingdom. In doing so many fairy tale creatures are now living in Shrek's swamp, where he makes the acquaintance of a rather annoying and loquacious Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Shrek saves his life from a group of Farquaad's soldiers who where attempting to capture him. In appreciation for saving his life Donkey sticks with Shrek wherever he goes.
Annoyed at both Donkey and the many creatures now inhabiting his swamp Shrek decides to have a few words with Lord Farquaad, who agrees to be rid his beloved swamp of the fairy tale creatures if he completes one task for him, to rescue and bring him the beautiful Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) as he plans to marry her. Shrek must travel to the dangerous dragon's lair and there at the highest tower of the lair lays Fiona awaiting her saviour. Shrek agrees to the task and goes off to save the Princess, but in doing so he falls in love with her, and what follows would ruin the story for those that haven't seen the film so I won't go into any more detail, but I will say that this film is filled with some extremely funny and often side splitting moments that will entertain the kids for sure. It's a great adventure film that gets better and better as the story unfolds. For an animated film Shrek demonstrates some very clever and quick-witted writing that isn't afraid to poke fun at fairy tales and above all their competitors Disney. State-of-the-art visuals are rendered magnificently with breathtakingly intricate backgrounds as well as some brilliant animated characterisations that bring life to this interesting cast. It's very rare to come across a film that delivers on almost all levels and Shrek is one of those films that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and will certainly get you excited. I would recommend this charming film to everyone, especially if you haven't seen it yet then you're in for a treat.

Video

This is the third time that Shrek has been released on DVD in region 4. The first was a single disc effort with some interactive extra features for the kids, followed by a 2-disc special edition that was a direct port of the region 1 2-disc release. Now we have this 2-disc edition called Shrek + 3-D: The Story Continues. This set is the first single disc release packaged with a second disc that houses the 3-D adventure that plays out as a prelude to Shrek 2. The following notes on Video and Audio are for the main film only and do not reflect the quality of the 3-D adventure. I'll review the 3-D adventure in the extra features section.

Shrek is presented at a ratio of 1.78:1, this anamorphically enhanced transfer has been create using the original digital elements that has given us a flawless image, which has absolutely no traces of artefacts, dirt, spots, or scratches of any kind. What we get is a completely clean image. Additionally colours are rendered beautifully, fine details can be seen in backgrounds as well as shadow detail is spot on. As far as DVD transfers go this is one of the best.

Audio

This DVD includes four separate Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks, these are in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. For the purposes of this review I watched the film with its English 5.1 track. This track is a rather good surround effort, although not quite up to scratch to the DTS track provided on the previous 2-disc special edition. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear, sound effects and atmospheric surrounds are well placed and separation is not distracting. The music is very immersive and is represented very well on this track. The track really shows its power during the action scenes, where every channel is used wonderfully to put you right into the scene.
This DVD also features subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish and Portuguese.

Extras

As stated above this is a 2-disc set, which includes the single disc release plus the 3-D disc. The first disc includes an audio commentary, a few featurettes and some very fun interactive games. The second disc features the 3-D short plus some bonus trailers, below is a breakdown of the extras per disc as they appear on the menu.

DISC ONE:
The first extra we encounter once into the special features menu is a filmmaker's audio commentary. The participants in this feature-length commentary are the producer Aron Warner and both directors Vicky Jenson and Andrew Adamson. This is a rather enjoyable commentary track with all three contributing quite a lot of information in the time they are given, covering many aspects of creating a computer animated film and it's many challenges. This track is very informative and is a welcomed addition to this DVD.

The Tech of Shrek is the first featurette on the extras menu, running in at just under 23 minutes this featurette informs the viewer on the arduous process of creating a completely CGI movie and the software and hardware employed to make the film. This is a rather interesting and informative featurette that sheds some light on the complexities filmmakers go through to be able to pull off this mammoth task.

Following the featurette we have three Character Interviews that run for a total of 2 minutes and 23 seconds. These are animated interviews with Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey. Although rather brief these clips are quite funny to watch.

Next we have a short featurette entitled International Dubbing clocking in at just over 2 minutes, this takes a look at the voice actors that dub the film in many different languages for worldwide release. Short and to the point this is a nice addition to the extras.

And now we get to one of the more amusing extras the Shrek In The Swamp Karaoke Dance Party. This short segment showcases the many fairy-tale characters getting their groove on to some contemporary music.

Also included are some text-based features that include a series of Production Notes and a series of rather extensive Cast and Crew Biographies, which is all fairly straightforward stuff.

Once you've explored all the playable extras, we can now enter the DVD-ROM features, of course you will require a DVD-ROM on your computer to access the material here. What we have here is the Shrek's ReVoice Studio, this extra allows you to record your own voices for characters of the film in a series of selected scenes. This is a rather unique extra and at release was a first in interactive extras.
Other DVD-ROM extras include a series of interactive games that include: A Character Morph, this allows you to switch the heads, bodies and legs of a character form the movie, a straight forward interactive game that will probably keep you busy for a few minutes.
Another interactive extra is the Decorate The Gingerbread Man feature which as the name suggests allows you to do just that, with a variety of different toppings and candies you can create your own 3-D cookie.
Finally the ROM extras are capped off with a Trivia Game, these include a series of questions based on the film and if you get a right answer you are rewarded with a clip from the film.
These ROM extras are somewhat entertaining, kids will certainly get a kick out of this, as for adults the novelty runs out rather quickly but we are not the target age group for this extra.

DISC TWO:
Now we get to the 3-D adventure entitled Shrek 3-D: The Story Continues running in at just over 10 minutes, this short film places itself between the first and second films. It's kind of like a prelude to Shrek 2. The short itself is rather entertaining and features Shrek and Princess Fiona on the way to their honeymoon. Of course tagging along is the ever-present Donkey. Having been lost along the way they embark into a dark forest. Everything seems to be going quite well until Fiona is abducted by Farquaad's ghost and Shrek and Donkey must save her.
You have the option to view the short in either standard image or in the 3-D image you are given 4 3-D glasses in the case for the whole family. The transfer is excellent presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 all detail is sharp and excellently rendered much like the feature film itself it's flawless, but only when you view it normally. The 3-D effect is not so great, while it's fun to watch it does strain your eyes slightly and I experienced many double images and an over abundance of red in the image. The DVD gives you a text page with tips on the best viewing methods and grades the image quality based on your AV set-up. It suggests the short be viewed in dark conditions with no light glare on the screen, but even when doing that I found the 3-D to still lack that overall 3-D sensation, another annoyance I found was that if you move your head the 3-D image will be lost, you have to look straight at the screen to get any effect. Now I'm sure children will get a kick out of this, as for adults it's best you watch normally.
Additionally you also have six Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround options you may view the short in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch. For the purposes of the review I chose to view this short in the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and just like the feature film this is a quality track with well-separated surrounds and very clear dialogue.

Finally we also get two trailers for Shrek 2 and two ads for Universal Theme Parks, one of which appears to be in Spanish.

Overall

Technically this disc has a lot going for itself, the image and sound transfers are great, the extras that are included are also a nice touch, it would have been nice to include some more informational extras, but I suppose at the end of the day this is really a kids movie and they will love what's provided here.
The 3-D adventure is also fun, although the 3-D aspects of it where a little disappointing, the standard transfer and sound where exceptional though.

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: B+ Extras: B- Overall: B+

 


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