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DREAMWORKS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mike Mitchell
Cast:
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, Craig Robinson, Walt Dohrn, Jane Lynch, Kathy Griffin
Writing Credits:
Josh Klausner, Darren Lemke

Tagline:
The Final Chapter.

Synopsis:
It started with a loveable ogre ... who befriended a talking donkey ... and rescued a beautiful princess in the unforgettable story that broke the mold for all animated films to follow. Now comes Shrek Forever After, the hilarious and fitting finale to the record-breaking, Oscar®-winning movie phenomenon. Longing for the days when he was a “real ogre,” Shrek signs a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to get his roar back ... but turns his world upside down in the process. Donkey suddenly can’t remember his best friend; Fiona is now a tough warrior princess; and Puss in Boots is one fat cat! Together, they have just 24 hours to reverse the contract and restore happily FOREVER after to close the final chapter.

Box Office:
Budget
$165 million.
Opening Weekend
$70.838 million on 4359 screens.
Domestic Gross
$238.371 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital TrueHD 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 12/7/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Director Mike Mitchell, Head of Story/Actor Walt Dohrn and Producers Gina Shay and Teresa Cheng
• “The Animators’ Corner” Picture-in-Picture Feature
• “Shrek’s Interactive Journey: IV” Feature
• “Spotlight on Shrek” Featurette
• “Secrets of Shrek Forever After” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “Conversation with the Cast” Featurette
• “The Tech of Shrek Forever After” Featurette
• “Shrek the Musical” Featurette
• Music Video
• Animation Video Jukebox
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; 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.

RELATED REVIEWS


Shrek Forever After [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 26, 2011)

Nine years after Shrek became a monster hit, the franchise reaches its conclusion with 2010’s Shrek Forever After. Well, kinda sorta maybe. The series will launch a spin-off flick in late 2011 with Puss in Boots, and I wouldn’t totally rule out another formal Shrek adventure somewhere down the road. Yes, it was a box office disappointment compared to its predecessors, but it still generated $238 million in the US, so the studio definitely took home money. Will that be enough to generate a fifth chapter? Maybe not, but I still don’t take the fourth flick’s Forever After “final chapter” concept seriously.

This time around, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) feels stuck in a rut. Call it an ogre’s midlife crisis, as the family responsibilities connected to wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their kids make him long for freer days. To make it worse, no one takes him seriously as a nasty monster any longer; he’s more of a carnival attraction than anything else.

Desperate to recapture his old joys, Shrek signs a contract with wicked wizard Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). Shrek can have a day to re-experience his past glories, and in exchange, the ogre will sacrifice one day from his past. Shrek allows Rumpel to steal a day from his youth.

This leads to calamity, as Rumpel pilfers the day of Shrek’s birth. Because of this, Shrek never comes into existence, so when he finishes with his fun, he turns into a big green George Bailey. Shrek must deal with an alternate reality in which he was never there to rescue Fiona. Her parents (John Cleese and Julie Andrews) signed over Far Far Away to Rumpel in exchange for her freedom, so the tiny tyrant rules the land. Shrek has until sunrise to set things right or be banished from existence.

If you look at my reviews for the first three Shrek flicks, you’ll find consistent comments. Shrek: “a generally watchable affair, but I never was able to get into it, no matter how badly I wanted to enjoy the movie.” Shrek 2: “I enjoyed it but never thought it took off and became something special.” Shrek the Third: “[The flick] offers an amusing but forgettable 90 minutes.”

Sense a pattern there? Given the franchise’s history, it seems unrealistic to expect anything more from After, though I held out hope. As I noted when I reviewed the first film, I really wanted to dig the movie more than I did. That tone carried over to all the sequels as well: even though my expectations lowered with each new flick, I still thought I might just finally find something really special on display.

And it never happened, though one shouldn’t take this as some condemnation of After or its predecessors. If nothing else, the franchise seems relentlessly consistent. Maybe others can select one of the bunch that they think clearly surpasses its siblings, but I can’t. They’re all one big film to me; they come with virtually identical pluses and minuses, so I’ll be darned if I can differentiate among them.

Though I will say that the animation clearly has come a long way since 2001. When I reviewed Third, I noted that I suspected it’d demonstrated growth over the intervening six years, but I wasn’t sure; the movies have maintained a consistent visual style that makes it more difficult to see a major difference among them. Intellectually, I was pretty sure 2 looked better than the first and Third was more polished than 2, but I couldn’t as obviously conjure the growth as I could for the Toy Story movies, for instance.

After still maintains consistent character design, but even without direct comparison, I can tell that the animation is much more sophisticated than in the past. I don’t think the creators have approached the lovely levels of Pixar, but they’ve been able to develop much more appealing computer animation. If nothing else, After looks really good.

And it does entertain – to a moderate degree, at least. Just like its predecessors, After gives us an enjoyable fable dotted with occasional instances of clever and amusing moments. The movie always remains likable.

But it simply never goes past that level. Laugh-out-loud moments are few and far between; indeed, the only bit I found to be truly memorable came from Butter Pants’ incessant demands for Shrek to “do the roar”, as director Mike Mitchell’s vocalizations were amusing. Some other bits made me chuckle, but nothing else was quite as delightful as “do the roar”.

To the film’s credit, it seems acceptably fresh. Even after three other movies and a story that borrows an awful lot from It’s a Wonderful Life, After expresses its own identity, and it never feels tired or stale.

So why don’t I find myself enthusiastic about After? That’s the million dollar question, and it’s the same one I asked myself in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The Shrek franchise always feels like it should be a total delight but it never is. After provides another entertaining but underwhelming effort.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Shrek Forever After appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. From start to finish, this was a stellar presentation.

Sharpness appeared absolutely immaculate. No matter how wide the shots became, they always seemed crisp and perfectly detailed. Not the slightest hint of softness ever marred the presentation. I witnessed no examples of jaggies or shimmering, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. As expected, source flaws also remained absent in this clean transfer.

After offered a warm palette that favored the movie’s storybook roots. The colors were consistently rich and vibrant, and they displayed absolutely no flaws whatsoever. The hues looked brilliant and dynamic and really enhanced the visuals. Black levels also appeared dense and deep, and shadow detail was solid I felt totally pleased with this terrific presentation.

While not quite as strong as the picture, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack of Shrek Forever After also seemed outstanding. . The mix presented an excellent soundstage. The front three channels were especially active, with solid spatial orientation and smooth panning between speakers. The rear speakers got a nice workout, especially in many of the scenes in which characters flew; they zipped around from front to rear and right to left effectively and convincingly.

Audio quality appeared very positive. Dialogue remained distinct and natural and suffered from no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. The score was warm and rich, as the music showed fine dimensionality and dynamics. The effects also came across as concise and accurate. They presented clean highs and some terrific lows; bass response was consistently tight and powerful without any distortion. All in all, the audio of After seemed quite impressive.

We find a pretty broad collection of extras here. First comes an audio commentary with director Mike Mitchell, head of story/actor Walt Dohrn and producers Gina Shay and Teresa Cheng. All four sit together for their running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, animation, various technical topics and music.

Expect a fairly meat and potatoes commentary here. While the participants provide a reasonable level of information related to the movie, I can’t say the track ever becomes especially lively or engaging. It delivers a more than acceptable chat without notable flaws, but it simply doesn’t keep us consistently engaged.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray, The Animators’ Corner delivers a picture-in-picture feature. It combines the aforementioned commentary with other elements; we also find storyboards, behind the scenes footage, and soundbites from Mitchell, Dohrn, visual effects supervisor Ken Bielenberger, studio co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberger, actors Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Craig Robinson, and Jon Hamm, and some unnamed animators.

If you watch “Corner” on its own, it’s fun and informative, but it’s redundant if you’ve already listened to the commentary. Most of the content comes from that chat, so you’ll have to sit through the same notes again. Unfortunately, if you skip the commentary and go solely with “Corner”, you’ll miss probably about one-third of the audio chat.

So what’s the most efficient option? I’d recommend that you watch “Corner” put turn on the subtitles for the commentary. This lets you “hear” the entire commentary when “Corner” branches to various video elements. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best way to avoid redundancy. I do think the added “Corner” content makes it superior to the commentary on its own, so it’s worth the effort to view it.

For another Blu-ray exclusive, we examine Shrek’s Interactive Journey. This allows you to visit nine of the movie’s “locations” and view concept art related to those places. The interface is a bit slow and awkward, but we find a nice collection of stillframe elements here.

Three Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, 44 seconds. We get “Fairy Tale Creatures Attack” (2:07), “Gingy Attack (Test)” (2:22), and “Emperor No Clothes (Test)” (1:15). “Attack” offers mostly finished animation, while the other two go with storyreels. All are actually pretty good, though the first two are rather violent. Still, I think they would’ve worked well in the final flick.

All of those running times include introductions from Mitchell. He tells us a little about the scenes and lets us know why he cut them – well, the first two at least, as we don’t find out why “Clothes” got the boot. Despite that omission, he adds some decent notes.

Five featurettes ensue. Spotlight on Shrek lasts 13 minutes, 46 seconds and offers remarks from Myers, Murphy, Mitchell, Katzenberger, Dohrn, Cheng, filmmakers Andrew Adamson, Raman Hui and Chris Miller, software development director of animation Ken Pearce, and producer Aron Warner. “Spotlight” concentrates on the original movie, as it looks at Myers’ performance and various technical elements. The show’s puffy and it’s a little odd to hear so much about the first flick on the fourth one’s disc, but it’s better than average for a promotional featurette.

During the three-minute, 58-second Secrets of Shrek Forever After, we get a look at some trivia. It makes sure we know the actors behind some of the supporting characters as well as abandoned story concepts. We’ll already know some of this info, but the piece is breezy and informative enough to merit a look.

Next comes Conversation with the Cast. It goes for nine minutes, 18 seconds and features Myers, Diaz, Murphy, Dohrn, Banderas, Hamm, Robinson and actor/moderator Ryan Seacrest. They participate in a press panel and discuss aspects of the movies and their performances. Nothing fascinating emerges, but it’s enjoyable.

The Tech of Shrek Forever After fills seven minutes, 32 seconds with comments from Cheng, Bielenberger, Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation CTO Ed Leonard, visual effects supervisor Doug Cooper, DreamWorks Animation Head of Digital Operations Derek Chan, DreamWorks Animation technology executive Kate Swanborg, and Head of Research and Development Lincoln Wallen. Essentially they just tell us how much technology grew between the first and fourth movies; if any useful info emerged, I missed it.

Finally, From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek the Musical runs eight minutes, 13 seconds. Hosted by Diaz, we find thoughts from directors Rob Ashford and Jason Moore, lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire, composer Jeanine Tesori, and choreographer Josh Prince. They tell us a bit about the Broadway show’s creation, but not much. This is a long advertisement.

We can check out a little more of the show via a performance of “Who I’d Be”. It doesn’t make me want to see the show. In fact, it actively makes me not want to see the show.

The set also includes a Music Video for “Darling I Do” from Landon Pigg and Lucy Schwartz. It’s a basic lip-synch/movie clip video gussied up with some forest-related visual effects. These don’t make the video interesting – or the song particularly enjoyable – but I must admit Schwartz is pretty hot.

Next we get a DreamWorks Animation Jukebox. This lets you see/hear sequences from Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Bee Movie, Over the Hedge, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda. All of this feels like glorified advertising to me.

Speaking of which, the disc opens with ads for Megamind and Kung Fu Panda 2. Under Previews, we also find promos for Rango, Shrek Forever After: The Game, Kung Fu Panda World, The Penguins of Madagascar, The Last Airbender and Shrek: The Musical.

If you expect anything remarkable from Shrek Forever After, you’ve not paid much attention to its predecessors. Like the first three movies in the franchise, After delivers moderate entertainment but nothing more delightful or memorable than that. The Blu-ray provides stunning visuals, very good audio and a reasonably nice set of supplements. I feel pleased with this Blu-ray, but the movie itself is only mildly enjoyable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.125 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main