2 Featurette - Tech of Shrek & International Dubbing Featurette
Karaoke - Shrek in the Swamp Dance Party
DVD-ROM features - ReVoice Studio
R4 . COLOR . 86 mins .
PG . PAL
Ever since PIXAR and their first fully computer animated feature in Toy Story was created, the reality of producing a fully CG animated movie was realised. It wasn't long after that the animation studios outside of PIXAR would come to the fore with their forays into the genre. At each attempt, the limits of what could be achieved in the 3D domain were pushed even further producing realistic footage at the push of a mouse button.
Free for free.
PDI Dreamworks, the animated division of Dreamworks SKG, first attempted a fully CG movie with Antz, utilising the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman and Sylvester Stallone. Back then, the technical quality of Antz was at a point where the use of muscles were being used to animate the facial expressions. The processing power needed to bring such a movie to life was pushing the limits of the hardware available at the time. With years of experience under their belt, and their desire to push the limits even further, PDI can now easily render extremely life like characters and environments rivaling the real thing. As good as the CG can look, it's up to the story to bring the movie to life, which brings us to Shrek.
Being the ugliest green ogre of all time, Shrek (Mike Myers), is not all bad, especially when you're living a peaceful life in your own personal swamp. But when your life is turned upside down by squatters resembling every known fairy tale character in history, you need to get to the bottom of it all. It seems Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) has banished these folk into the forest and they have nowhere to stay. Shrek takes it upon himself to seek out this Farquaad, with his steed Donkey (Eddie Murphy), to claim his property back.
Meanwhile, Farquaad wants to marry a princess so that he can become King. He has chosen Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), who is stuck in the fiery keep of a dragon. Shreks timing is bad when he arrives at Farquaads during the selection for the knight to rescue the Princess. Being an ogre, he wins easily and is soon on his way to rescue the Princess for Farquaad. As is the case in any fairy-tale love story, the hero falls in love with the heroine but there is a huge problem that becomes obvious at sunset. Will Shrek keep the girl and win back his swamp?
The animation here is exemplary and is a huge step forward from Antz which looks simple in comparison. The level of detail used to define each individual element of the movie is such that there is nothing left to the imagination. Everything is there on screen to be seen and appreciated. The lighting, the reflections, the shadows, the surfaces, the interactions of objects with other objects and particles is simply astounding and like nothing ever seen before.
Look at me, I'm a lemming!
When you are dealing with a direct digital-to-digital transfer, there is no arguing that the resultant image is going to be spectacular and in this instance, it is probably the best looking DVD we've seen to date. The DVD is presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement and the amount of detail present throughout the image leaves you in wonderment from shot to shot.
The digital transfer is pristine, obviously not likely to suffer from any film dirt or grain of any sort, and there is no artifical grain or edginess added into the image to simulate a film look. This is the raw image, as rendered on their machines and encoded into MPEG 2 for you. Just the way we like it for an animated film.
Sharpness is exceptional throughout and the image never suffers from any aliasing issues that are a normal by-product of such high levels of sharpness. Couple this with the amazing colour palette that brings out an amazingly fresh look at the world of Shrek. The quality of rendered animation has reached a point these days where the line between what is real and artificial is blurred to the point of obscurity. Amazingly, in Shrek, the advancements have come so far that you won't believe you're looking at CG when the movie is entirely CG. This makes Shrek the most beautiful looking DVD you'll set your eyes upon.
It's not easy being green.
Whereas the video is something that has to be seen to be believed, the audio suffers from a lack of real quantity rather than quality. The movie is mainly focused on the story telling and thus dialogue throughout which is as good as it is going to sound. The front sound stage is evenly balanced with some obvious stereo separation throughout the movie.
The surround activity is minimal in comparison to other fully animated titles such as Toy Story 2. When they are called upon, they come to the fore exceptionally providing accurate directionality and ambience. Subwoofer activity is also of minimal quantity that is only really called upon during the rescue of the Princess from the Dragon and the finale.
This isn't demo material but it does the job that is needed to support the movie.
Here is where the disc shines furthermore. The region 4 disc misses out on a few extras that our region 1 cousins obtain, due to keeping the costs down with the disc being targetted to families rather than avid collectors. Missing are a full frame version of the movie on a second disc as well as the following: Multi-angle storyboard pitching of the deleted scenes, Progression Reel, X-Box game hints, Technical goofs, HBO First Look, a sneak peak trailer of "Spirit" and Dreamworks Kids. A fairly hefty collection it may be but international reviews don't really make out that we are missing out on much. Oh, and there's a further sound option in some format called dts that we miss out on also.
What a Farquaad!
What we DO get is an audio commentary by directors Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson and producer Aron Warner. The commentary here is pretty interesting but is more from a technical standpoint which suits the movie well. The Tech of Shrek documentary looks at the extensive work that went into bringing Shrek to life. If ever you wanted some intricate detail into what goes on behind the scenes to make such a project come to life then this is the documentary for you.
Originally noted as part of the extended scenes 'within' the movie, the Extended Karaoke Jam is actually just another scene done for the DVD that has no place within the movie itself. In fact, there are no new added scenes in the movie. This Karaoke Jam can be accessed by clicking the musical note on the main screen or selecting the option from the special features menu.
Some cleverly done Animation Press Interviews are actually interviews with the characters themselves, voiced by the respective actors, running for a bit over 2 minutes. An International dubbing featurette takes us behind the scenes to show the actors who provided the alternate dub for the respective countries. The usual suspects in the production notes and Cast & Crew biographies are present as well. Strangely enough, of these usual suspects, a trailer is notoriously missing.
A collection of simple games are included with the first being Shrektacular Trivia, much in the same vein as the trivia section of Jaws whereby a question about the movie is asked and you can visit that specific scene to see if the answer you provided was correct or not. Character Morph is anything but a morph, it is simply a screen that allows you to select a combination of head, torso and feet of the main characters to see what they'd look like. Decorate the Gingerbread Man is simply a collection of still images of GB man in various costumes. Whilst they may seem simple to an adult, the target kiddy audience should have a field day with the big arrows and fairytale book styled description screens guiding them through the various activities.
One of the many beautiful shots.
Finally, of special note, is the incredible Shrek Re-Voice Studio. This is fun for ALL the family here folks. In as quick a description as possible, there are a selection of scenes from the movie that are broken down into their constituent lines. Each line has each individual word synchronized to the video footage in the form of blocks. Using your PC microphone, you record the line yourself karaoke style, making sure to match your spoken words to the blocks of text as they are displayed. Once you are happy with your recording, replay the entire scene with your voice substituted into the movie and it works surprisingly well. You and a few friends can rework an entire scene playing various characters or you can try your own luck against Eddie Murphy or Cameron Diaz. Obviously, this feature requires the use of a PC DVD-ROM running the Windows Operating system.
All of these extras are held together by some newly created animated menus making use of the cast of fairy tale characters that didn't get much screen time during the movie. And of particular note, all of the extras are presented in a 5.1 surround audio format, a first?
This combination of entertaining story telling, jokes to keep both children and adults laughing out loud and a picture that looks absolutely magnificent makes Shrek on DVD a real winner. The extras included here may not be up to the quantity of the region 1 release, which is a shame to a certain extent, but the disc here, the package as a whole, is worthy of a place in everyones collection.