Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas
, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders, Aron Warner
William Steig (book), Andrew Adamson (story), Andrew Adamson, Joe Stillman, J. David Stem, David N. Weiss
Once upon another time ...
Princess Fiona's parents invite her and Shrek to dinner to celebrate her marriage. If only they knew the newlyweds were both ogres.
$108.037 million on 4163 screens.
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Description
Runtime: 92 min.
Release Date: 8/30/2011
• Audio Commentary with Directors Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon
• Audio Commentary with Producer Aron Warner and Editor Mike Andrews
• “Animators’ Corner” Interactive Feature
• “Shrek’s Interactive Journey: II”
• “Spotlight on Puss In Boots” Featurette
• “Secrets of Shrek 2” Featurette
• Music Videos and Video Jukebox
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Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
Shrek 2 [Blu-Ray] (2004)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 12, 2015)
As the summer of 2004 approached, three big sequels appeared on the horizon. Shrek 2 hit the screens first on May 21st and then Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban popped up on June 4th. Finally, Spider-Man 2 came out on June 30th.
Go backwards chronologically to see the order in which many thought they’d wind up on the box office charts. Most figured Spidey 2 would be the season’s big hit, and Azkaban would wind up in second. Shrek 2 looked like it’d earn the bronze.
It didn’t work out that way. Both Spidey and Azkaban did nicely, with $373 million and $249 million, respectively. On the other hand, Shrek 2 raked in an amazing $436 million. That meant it outdid the original by almost $170 million!
Why did Shrek 2 prove to be such a sensation? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s a reasonably entertaining little flick, but there’s nothing special enough about it to warrant its insane success.
Set not long after the conclusion of the first film, Shrek 2 starts with ogres Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) on their honeymoon. This news comes as a surprise to Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who just arrived at the castle in which Fiona was imprisoned in the first flick. He planned to rescue her and make her his bride, but she’s long gone.
Shrek and Fiona return home to find Donkey (Eddie Murphy) in their lair, and he hopes to stay a while. Apparently Donkey ran into some problems with his romantic partner Dragon and wants to hang out with them.
The ogres soon get distracted from this issue when Fiona’s royal parents summon the happy couple back to Far Far Away for a celebration of their union. This causes discord since her parents - King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) - clearly expect Fiona and husband to be human not ogres.
Shrek understands the pitfalls and refuses to go. Unfortunately for him, Fiona wins the argument, so the couple and Donkey head out on the journey to Far Far Away. The whole kingdom turns out for their arrival, which doesn’t go too well when everyone sees the big green beasties. The King seems particularly dismayed, which means that he and Shrek bicker. We follow all sorts of inter-family problems and concerns related to Charming and others.
As I thought about how to express my opinion of Shrek 2, I was darned tempted to simply cut and paste my comments about the first flick. I wouldn’t call the sequel a remake, as it differs enough from the original to allow it to stand on its own. However, the pair share so many similarities that it becomes tough to find strengths or weaknesses shared by one and not the other.
To be sure, the two flicks employ rather similar stories. The sequel gussies up its plot with a lot of new shenanigans, but when we look at the basic tales, they match closely. Shrek loves Fiona and tries to prove this to her. Someone else wants Fiona and Shrek needs to battle for her – the end.
I can’t say the retread portions really bother me, though, as they come wrapped in such dissimilar clothes that they work independently. Nonetheless, I’d have preferred a more original take on things. The world of fairy tales offers a myriad of possibilities, so why tell the same story twice?
Happily, Shrek 2 tosses out enough clever bits to make it enjoyable. This is really the sort of movie that needs to be watched a few times to pick up all the references and gags. Pop culture references abound, and while these will clearly make the film age poorly, they add some spark to the proceedings in the here and now.
I think the gags are awfully inconsistent, though. Some are clever and inspired, while others seem easy and without any challenge to them. Shrek 2 employs the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” method of comedy. This means that while it provokes more than a few chuckles, it doesn’t enjoy a great gags to laughs ratio.
One of the movie’s most fun elements comes from the rivalry between new character Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Donkey. Banderas proves a surprise as the killer kitty, as he brings real flair to the part. He and Murphy bounce off each other nicely and help create a lot of entertaining moments. I didn’t think a lot of Donkey in the first flick, but he works much better with his feline foe.
Unfortunately, Shrek remains a boring character. He’s not grumpy and unpleasant enough to develop a personality, but he’s also not endearing or entertaining. Fiona lacks the spark she displayed in the original movie. There she was feisty and independent, but here she just comes across as bland.
Other than Puss, only one of the new characters stands out: Mongo the giant gingerbread man. Yeah, he offers a blatant rip-off of the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, but he adds a delightful twist to the movie’s third act, and his fate becomes surprisingly touching.
Otherwise, I can’t say much for the new personalities. Godmother and Charming are competent villains and that’s about it. Harold and Lillian don’t receive enough development to make them interesting either.
When I looked back at my review for the first movie, I was surprised to see my praise for the animation. I called it “an attractive movie that shows nicely executed animation at all times.” The former statement remains true to a degree. Much of Shrek 2 does look good, as it delivers elaborate and lush environments along with many appealing non-human characters.
However, the humans demonstrate creepy designs. What’s the deal - are they supposed to be cartoony or photo-real? They come across as neither, which makes them look plastic much of the time.
The characters don’t move naturally either. There’s something weird and awkward about the animation. Look at the way objects swing and dangle; they flop in a forced manner that makes them unconvincing.
My ultimate impression of Shrek 2 closely matches what I thought of the original movie. I like it but never think it takes off and becomes something special. For both, I felt they have their moments and prove generally entertaining. However, they fail to deliver a certain intangible that would take them to another level. Shrek 2 is fun but not a classic.
Footnote: be sure to sit through the end credits for a Donkey-related epilogue.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus B
Shrek 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Don’t expect problems here, as the movie offered great visuals.
Across the board, sharpness looked terrific. No signs of softness materialized at any point during the movie. Instead, the flick appeared distinctive and well-defined. No problems with shimmering or jagged edges popped up, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. The movie lacked any source flaws.
Shrek 2 offered a lively palette that befit a fairytale story. The film displayed a wide variety of hues and always imbued them with great life and vivacity. Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots displayed solid definition and clarity. The image lacked a certain sparkle that would have made it among the all-time best, but it remained good enough for an “A”.
On the other hand, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack of Shrek 2 was less stellar. Some of this stemmed from the generally lackluster soundfield. The movie didn’t make great use of the surrounds and mainly focused on the front spectrum. In that domain, music showed good imaging and I also heard pretty positive localization and melding of environment effects.
The surrounds added general reinforcement for the most part. They kicked into moderately higher gear with a few scenes, especially during the climax. However, they didn’t act as strong partners in the mix. Not that this was a particularly ambitious track in general, as it usually stayed with a lot of music and only mild effects.
Ironically, music presented the weakest aspects of the mix in regard to quality. The score sounded reasonably dynamic, but the many pop tunes came across with less flair. They tended to lack low-end material, which made them sound thin.
Effects demonstrated the best bass, as a few louder scenes offered good rumble and boom. Those elements also sounded clean and distinctive. Speech was good, with consistently natural and intelligible tones. I almost gave the audio a “B-“ because of its general lack of scope and the moderately weak music, but the climax packed just enough punch to earn the mix a “B”.
How did this Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2004? The audio was a little peppier and more involving, while the visuals seemed tighter, brighter and more dynamic. I felt pleased with the DVD, but the Blu-ray was a stronger presentation.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we find two audio commentaries. The first comes from directors Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. A chatty affair, the pair cover a mix of subjects, though most of them relate to story elements.
We get a little information about visuals and animation, but mainly we hear about character issues, working out the plot and other areas, and keeping things on the right foot. The pair joke with each other - their frequent use of incorrect words becomes a running gag - and make this an informative and likable piece.
Next we get a commentary with producer Aron Warner and editor Mike Andrews. They also sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. As with the directors’ track, this one focuses on storytelling, but in a different way. Here the chat concentrates on pacing, editing, and melding the different elements.
Whereas the first commentary went over how they came up with the various story pieces, this one lets us know how they combined the parts into the coherent final. We learn about cut sequences as well as some music and a few technical issues. As with the prior commentary, this one displays a wry humor that allows it to remain consistently engaging. I like both commentaries, especially since they nicely complement each other.
Two “Blu-ray exclusives” follow. The Animators’ Corner offers picture-in-picture elements that show behind the scenes footage, storyboards, and interviews. We hear from Asbury, Vernon, Warner, writer Andrew Adamson, production designer Guillaume Aretos, composer Harry Gregson-Williams, costume designer Isis Mussenden, actors Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, John Cleese, Julie Andrews and Antonio Banderas, and other crew members. Why don’t I credit them? Because the stupid Blu-ray doesn’t credit them; it never lists any names, so if I didn’t recognize a participant or figure out their names via context, I couldn’t identify them.
“Corner” covers story/character topics, performances and inspirations, music and visual design, animation and technical areas, and some general issues. “Corner” acts as a nice complement to the commentary, as it discusses a good array of areas. It manages to fill most of the film – only a few gaps here! – and provides an enjoyable picture-in-picture track.
Shrek’s Interactive Journey: II acts as a form of still gallery. It lets you choose from six movie locations and see concept art created for those spots. It’s not the most intuitive way to view these images, but I like the content.
Far Far Away Idol is a piece of animation originally created for the DVD. In the five-minute, 53-second short, we see various characters sing appropriate pop tunes for a judging panel of Shrek, Fiona, and Simon Cowell. It’s cute and enjoyable. You get to vote on your favorite, and unlike the DVD, the winner varies, so there’s some replay value.
With Spotlight on Puss in Boots, we get a 10-minute and 46-second featurette. It presents notes from Warner, Adamson, Vernon, Myers, Diaz, Banderas, Murphy, Shrek Forever After director Mike Mitchell, producer Gina Shay, visual effects supervisor Doug Cooper, character technical director Sandy Kao, and actor Walt Dohrn. “Spotlight” looks at the character’s development and design as well as Banderas’s casting and performance. The program gives us a tight, interesting take on Puss.
Next comes Secrets of Shrek 2, a three-minute, 58-second piece. It identifies cameos and movie details that otherwise might go unnoticed. It’s a fun little bonus.
Within “Shrek, Rattle and Roll”, a few elements appear. We find music videos for Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love” and Puss in Boots’ “These Boots Were Made for Walking”. The former is a bland video, and the latter isn’t much better, though we do get some fun shots of Banderas in the recording studio. We also find “I Know It’s Today” from Shrek: The Musical. It doesn’t make me want to see the show.
For material from other films, we can move to the DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox. This allows you to watch clips from Bee Movie, How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and Over the Hedge. This lets us hear some musical numbers from the films. It feels like advertising to me, honestly, as it serves little real purpose.
The disc opens with ads for Megamind and Kung Fu Panda 2. These also appear under Previews along with clips for The Penguins of Madagascar, the Kung Fu Panda World game, and Shrek: The Musical. No trailer for Shrek 2 shows up here.
If you liked Shrek, you’ll probably enjoy Shrek 2. Actually, the sequel’s probably a little better than the original, but both are similar overall. Though Shrek 2 offers some fun, it doesn’t ever really take flight. The Blu-ray presents excellent visuals plus good audio and a nice roster of bonus materials. I still don’t think this is a great movie, but it’s generally likable, and the Blu-ray brings it home well.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SHREK 2