Plot: What’s it about?
Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) is an angry, ulgy and disgusting ogre who lives in the recluse of a forest. He likes it that way. While it isn’t really said why he is angry at the world, he seems to be content taking his mud baths, frightening humans (and animals) away from his home and feasting on his newly caught critters. The lifestyle of Shrek is not uncommon to real-life human counterparts. A curious village nearby is determined to get a look at the mysterious ogre and try to chase him out of the forest, but no matter how brave they are and no matter what weapons they have, the might of Shrek is too much for them. But things tend to happen for a reason and at a local market, things are being bought and sold. An old woman is trying to sell her donkey who she claims can talk. The donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) is as stubborn as they come, and as it turns out, can talk (in most cases no one can get him to shut up). As the donkey manages to escape from the market, he follows Shrek into the forest with the hope of staying wit him and perhaps find a new friend in the process. Shrek, being the kind and gentle soul he is, allows the donkey to stay for one night (outside, mind you) and it’s then when all the action takes place.
This brings us to Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow) who is the “wanna be king” of the land, but the only trouble is that he’s not married to a princess. The Lord has bestowed all of the inhabitants on to Shrek’s property (and a lot of familiar faces are seen, up to and including Snow White and her Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, The Three Bears, The Three Blind Mice and Pinocchio just to name a few). Shrek, of course, naturally wants all of them gone and to get that, he has to do a task for the Lord. Shrek must go fetch a Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) and bring her back to be his bride. Now this is where it gets fun and interesting…Princess Fiona is kept in a castle surrounded by fire and brimstone and a fire-breathing dragon. She awaits the first kiss by her true love to remove a horrible curse that’s been placed on her. I’ll leave out the details of the curse as one could surely connect the dots, but let’s just say it’s not too pretty. So Shrek and his new sidekick, Donkey, are off to get the princess so that Shrek can again have the forest to himself. What they don’t realize, though, is that the journey to get the princess and the journey on the way back is one that will affect Shrek and the world he lives in.
I hate to sound corny, but I really loved Shrek and found that it really does have something for everybody. While the children will most certainly love the jokes and the animation, there are plenty of jokes that only adults (or teenagers) will get. I found the opening sequences to be a bit crude in terms of content, but I think that children are so de-sensitized to things these days that it wasn’t a problem. The casting was perfect, letting Mike Myers once again do his Scottish-accent routine (he also did the character of “Fat Bastard” from Austin Powers II who sounded similar). Eddie Murphy nearly steals the show as the constantly-talking Donkey. And as we learn in the supplements, the actors were filmed and a lot of their characters were based on the actions that the actors did. Evidently Dreamworks did something right and as time has told us – it would go down as a modern classic.
Video: How does it look?
Admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve watched our favorite green-skinned ogre and his adventures in the swamp. Yes, it’s been a decade and a half since if you can believe that. Looking at the review database, we have actually not covered this on Blu-ray so no time like the present. Looking at the 1.78:1 AVC HD image, it’s clear (pun fully intended) that not much has changed. Shrek looked good when it came out on DVD back in the early ’00’s and it still looks good now. That’s the thing with these computer-animated films – they look so pristine that it’s hard to believe they’ll ever be considered “bad” looking. The texture of some of the characters still retains some of that “feel” (if you look at the contours of the skin on Shrek). And while animation has come a long way in the time since this film came out, this still looks pretty darn good on my television. I’m giving it a perfect rating because to me, I can’t seem to find a fault with how this looks.
Audio: How does it sound?
The previously-released Blu-ray contained a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack and that’s what we find here. Yep, it looks like they didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken. The film is a delight to listen to with some (at the time) “current” songs that really jazzed up the movie. One of my wife’s favorite songs to listen to is Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love” and it sounds amazing here in full uncompressed sound. Vocals are rich and crisp, Mike Meyers’ scottish accent is right on the money, Cameron Diaz sounds like…well herself and Eddie Murphy’s hyper donkey still manages to steal the show. Surround and directional effects are used with great effect, the fire-breathing dragon is still as intimidating as ever. It’s a good, solid mix that’s sure to please.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any new material here (aside from a UV code), and it’s all just a repackaging of the previously-existing supplemental material.
- Audio Commentary – Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson are joined by Producer Aron Warner deliver a pretty straight-forward commentary here. No big surprises, the animation is discussed, the casting of the various voice actors as well as the critical and financial success that the film enjoyed. The “target audience” may not like it, but if you’re into commentary tracks – you could do a lot worse.
- Deleted Scenes – Three in all with an introduction by Aron Warner.
- Fiona’s Prologue
- The Deal
- Fiona Gets Them Lost
- Shrek Rattle & Roll – A breakout of a few odds and ends.
- Music Videos – Baha Men – “Best Years of our Lives” and Smash Mouth – “I’m a Believer.”
- Shrek the Musical “What’s Up Duloc” – A look at one of the scenes in the spin-off musical with Farquaad singing about Duloc.
- Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party – Short music videos from Dreamworks films are provided.
- Everything from the DVD, plus…
- The Animators’ Corner – I really enjoyed these when more studios were doing them, Warner probably did them the best. Nevertheless, this is a picture-in-picture commentary track with some factions and tidbits about the film. If you don’t like the monotonous droll of an audio commentary, this is a more interactive way to watch the film…and learn!
- Shrek’s Interactive Journey (I) – Each Shrek film has one of these, but since this is a review of the first, it’s just a collection of poster art and stills associated with the film.
- Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party – Each of the characters perform different popular songs or popular circa 2001.
- Secrets of Shrek – Some facts about the film. For example, there were originally over 1000 different characters involved in the film. That number dwindled significantly for the final cut.
- Spotlight on Donkey – Some of donkey’s most quotable lines are shown as well as an overall look at one of the standout characters from the film.
The Bottom Line
A decade and a half later, Shrek still manages to entertain. I doubt the filmmakers knew it at the time, but this would inspire three sequels and a spin-off (Puss & Boots). Though some of the supplements do feel a bit dated now (Baha Men, anyone?) this is still probably on the shelves of many homes to keep the kids occupied. The Blu-ray still looks and sounds great and if, for some reason, you don’t have this as a part of your collection – no time like the present to add it.