Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson.
Featuring the voice talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow.
Shrek may not benefit as much from 4K as more recent computer-animated films, but it’s still a nice jump forward from previous editions of the movie. However, don’t look for anything new in the bonus features, since they’ve seemed to be cobbled together from various DVD and Blu-ray releases. You get a code for a digital copy too, though.
If you weren’t around when Shrek was released, or weren’t old enough to really be aware of it, then you likely have no idea what a big deal it was at the time. In the year 2001, Pixar reigned supreme in the computer-animated movie world, and other studios were racing to catch up. DreamWorks caught lightning in a bottle with an irreverent send-up of fairy tales that set the box office on fire and was one of the early entrants in the DVD bonus features wars, when studios were trying to one-up each other by touting that they had more hours of bonus features.
Incidentally, this 4K Ultra HD package has a sticker that touts “Over 4 hours of fun!”, so I suppose someone at Universal is trying to revive the bonus features war. (I recall that the original Shrek DVD boasted something like 10 or 11 hours of bonus features, though.) The film is included on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs, along with another Blu-ray with additional bonus features and a digital code.
As for the film itself, the animation was groundbreaking in its day but pedestrian by today’s standards, although the story, which is the most important part, holds up well. I imagine you know the plot, but just in case, here are the basics: Shrek is an ogre who wants to be left alone in his swamp, but when a bunch of fairy tale characters are relocated there by the evil Lord Farquaad, he decides to pay him a visit, accompanied by the talkative Donkey.
When Shrek happens to win a tournament and is tasked with rescuing a princess from a dragon so Farquaad can marry her, he negotiates the removal of the fairy tale characters from his swamp if he succeeds. Off he goes to rescue Princess Fiona, with Donkey once more in tow. Fiona ends up not being who she seems to be, however, and Shrek finds himself realizing that maybe being grumpy and alone isn’t the best way to live.
Sure, Shrek may not benefit from 4K the way more recent animated films do, but this upgrade reveals more detail than Blu-ray, and it’s certainly a huge leap over the old DVD. There’s no way to make it magically look like Toy Story 4, but it’s a really impressive-looking film in 4K. And, honestly, there’s no reason that it can’t be enjoyed as-is, even if it’s not as awe-inspiring as the latest animated fare. After all, the story is what counts, right?
While I mentioned earlier that this release touts fewer hours of bonus features than the DVD, I don’t know if anything is missing here from Shrek’s numerous past editions. However, there’s definitely nothing new to be found, so take that into account if you’re considering an upgrade.
The 4K and Blu-ray discs contain the same batch of bonus features:
- An audio commentary with directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, along with producer Aron Warner. This is a lively track that mostly avoids the “Let’s talk about what’s on the screen and crack inside jokes” trap that group commentaries sometimes fall into. The three of them cover a wide range of topics about the film, which was based on a children’s book and went through multiple iterations that changed the story quite a bit, but for the better. (Not to say that the book is bad, just that adapting a kids’ book into a film requires a lot of plot expansion that changes the story.)
- The Animators’ Corner: Turn on this option and watch the film with a picture-in-picture that sometimes pops up to offer interviews with cast members and animators, along with behind-the-scenes footage.
- Shrek’s Interactive Journey: This uses an interactive map to allow you to explore the places in the film, such as Duloc and Shrek’s swamp, and discover what inspired them.
- Secrets of Shrek: If you weren’t aware of the public domain fables that the new denizens of Shrek’s swamp were based on, you’ll learn about them here, along with a look at the main characters’ early designs and some inside information on which animators also did character voices.
- Spotlight on Donkey: Every hero needs a memorable sidekick, and Donkey memorably filled that role in Shrek. He was the perfect vehicle for peeling back the onion layers, and this featurette explores him, with interviews with Eddie Murphy, other members of the cast, producers Aron Warner and Theresa Cheng, the directors, the visual effects supervisor, and even DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. All that for li’l ol’ Donkey.
- Deleted scenes: Warner also pops up to introduce three deleted scenes that are acted out by some of the storyboard artists, since animated films very rarely have deleted scenes with finished footage. Scenes that should be cut usually are at the storyboard stage.
- Shrek, Rattle & Roll: Revisit those crazy days of 2001 when Smash Mouth had a couple huge hits thanks to Shrek by watching music videos from them and Baha Men. Other videos are included too.
Over on the bonus Blu-ray, we find:
- Shrek’s Short Films: There are three of these, including an American Idol parody.
- Shrek’s Halloween Favorites: You’ll find four shorts here, ranging from six minutes to over 25. You’ll find a parody of Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” video as well as The Ghost of Lord Farquaad, which was created for Universal Studios’ 4-D Shrek Experience.
- Shrek’s Holiday Favorites: I suppose it wouldn’t be the holiday season without the cast of Shrek riffing on holiday classics. There are three videos here, running a little over an hour total.
- The Adventures of Puss in Boots TV Episodes: This includes five episodes from the Netflix series, running nearly two hours total. Apparently this bonus feature is “new” in the sense that it hasn’t shown up in a Shrek home video release before.
And that’s it for the bonus Blu-ray, which turned out to be a bit underwhelming. Maybe the inevitable 25th Anniversary Edition will include some good new bonus features.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★