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DVD Review: Shrek

Director: Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and John Lithgow

Story rating: 3 1/2 discs (out of 4)

Story review: Based on a book by William Steig, the deliriously warped Shrek unfolds as a vividly rendered computer-animated romp with a heart as big as its hero. It also lovingly evokes the spirit of traditional fairy tales while spoofing such contemporary cultural cornerstones as The Matrix and Babe. Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) longs for peace and solitude, but the likes of Goldilocks and the Three Pigs seek solace in Shrek’s swamp after being expelled from a fiefdom run by the diminutive Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). Farquaad agrees to remove the fairy-tale characters from Shrek’s land should the ogre rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a tower guarded by a dragon. With the trusty but jabbering Donkey (Eddie Murphy) by his side, Shrek saves Fiona. He soon falls for her but, fearing rejection, dares not tell her of his love. Fiona, meanwhile, harbors a dark secret that could ruin her impending marriage to Farquaad. —Robert Sims, Hollywood.com

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Features rating: 4 discs (out of 4)

Features review: Two discs with monstrous features. I will hit the highlights, but there is much, much more.

The star attraction on this excellent DVD is, of course, Shrek’s Revoice Studio, where you can dub your own voice–or voices–over the characters. You’ll need a microphone to plug into your computer which has a DVD drive, and you’ll need lots of time because once you’ve set it up (doesn’t take long) you and your friends will be tempted to remake Shrek in your own voice image.

The most entertaining results will come after you’ve stopped mimicking the actors and develop a whole new voice persona of your own. The possibilities are endless.

The feature is remarkable for not just the interactivity but the lip-synching that it undertakes for you. I can see this feature as a must on all animation releases: and maybe even live action!

The Tech of Shrek feature reminds us of the leaps and bounds taken in animation arts and crafts to make Shrek the exceptional movie that it is. The complexity of the animation is 10 times what it was in the making of Antz, and when this is applied to the human-like characters, it is clear why they are so credible for an audience. This above average documentary is an excellent introduction to an understanding of the process that created the film.

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The Tech of Shrek includes many salient details (like the facts that it took three years of work to make, uses 1291 individual shots, 63 characters and nearly 40 location) as well technical information that explains why and how things were done.

There are sound bites from the cast and Cameron Diaz explains how bizarre she felt watching herself as he screen character. Australian director Andrew Adamson (whose time in New Zealand at Peter Jackson’s facility has left its mark on his accent) talks about the great performances from the voice actors as well as the animators who had to match it on screen.

The animated character interviews special feature is a cute idea; we see Princess Fiona doing a sound bite, and Shrek bemoaning the star tasks of press junkets. But for the most fun, turn to the Swamp Dance Party, with Pinocchio as the DJ. Very cool.

In the games, you can morph different characters’ body parts together; so for example, you can create a Princess Fiona with Donkey’s legs, or you can remake the gingerbread man as a hippy, a sailor, a dog, etc.

In the audio commentary by producer Aron Warner and the two directors, we get easy-to-digest information and making of information as the trio chat and quip through the film. They provide insights into how scenes and elements evolved, and do so in an entertaining way.

Bottom line: The extras are great, but it is still the film itself that makes this DVD such a pleasure. It was obviously made with great dedication and talent–enjoy it with matching zeal.

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Special features list:
• Shrek’s Revoice Studio
• Behind the scenes featurette
• Hidden fun facts
• Hilarious character interviews
• DWK: DreamWorks Kids, including
      • Game Swamp: Over 15 interactive games
      • Shrek’s Music Room
      • Favorite scenes selections

• Filmmakers’ commentary
The Tech of Shrek
• Storyboard pitch of outrageous deleted scenes
• Technical goofs
• International dubbing featurette
• Character design progression reel
• Hints for Shrek Xbox Video Game

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