Media FX Shrek Movie Review
Joe Tracy, publisher of Digital Media FX
his review of Shrek for Daily Variety, Todd McCarthy
calls the movie "an instant animated classic."
Is it? No, it isn't; but Shrek is one fun animated
journey that's quite a sight to behold. It may not be
an instant animated classic, but it proves to be an instant
animated challenge to Disney's animation empire.
produced by PDI/DreamWorks, wastes no time in making big
impressions. The opening credits for the movie are absolutely
incredible. The opening credits interact with Shrek's
environment (often using PDI's proprietary Fluid Animation
System) and is pulled off so well that it is easily the
best animated opening credits ever created.
rest of the movie is simply a fun and enjoyable comedy
that is pulled off with good precision. By far, the best
casting decision was Eddie Murphy as Donkey who helps
to carry the humor throughout the entire story. Murphy
seemed a bit outcast as Mushu in Mulan (a drama),
but in Shrek (a comedy), Murphy shines.
In its most basic form, Shrek is an "ugly
duckling" type story where an ugly ogre amplifies
his ugliness by being mean and hateful. The ogre (named
Shrek) wants to be a loner and has his fun by scaring
people off his property.
on, Shrek finds himself invaded by fairy tale creatures
and seeks out the ruler of the kingdom responsible for
the problem, Farquaad, in order to get his property and
privacy back. Farquaad never makes a deal in which there
isn't something in it for himself, however, so he sends
Shrek on a journey to find a princess that will increase
Farquaad's stature (pun intended).
Shrek, the story takes a back seat to the comedy,
which is what carries the movie and makes it so entertaining.
The moral message in Shrek is nothing new - "beauty
comes from within."
a more complete breakdown of the film:
There is a lot to love about Shrek:
The comedy is great. Not all the jokes hit the mark,
but most do. Since Shrek is a parody of fairy
tales, the variety of jokes are enhanced by the audiences
past backstory knowledge of the fairy tale creatures.
A sequence with a surprise ending between a songbird
and Princess Fiona had the audience at the press screening
I attended in both laughter and shock (at the same time),
adding extra value to the emotional experience.
The backgrounds are beautiful. DreamWorks has always
done well with its backgrounds and color choices. Shrek
carries on that process, giving audiences that extra
aspect that makes the film even more enjoyable.
The characters are well drawn. An array of recent
animated films have sacrificed the quality of their
character drawings (calling it a "style" decision)
creating an environment that is hard to believe. From
square chins to square hands, the "style"
of other animated films have been a great disappointment.
That isn't the case with Shrek. Shrek
delivers character drawings that are realistic within
the fantasy environment it has created. This adds to
the realism of the production and enjoyment of the film.
The animation is strong. From grass and mud to water
and movement, the animation in Shrek is strong
with the quality of work showing. While some may be
nitpicky on issues like human movement (which is hard
to master even for the Final Fantasy team), the
delivery of all the animation in Shrek is strong
and the best to be delivered animation-wise to theaters
in quite awhile (at least since the last Pixar movie).
It seems that the pop songs in Shrek were thrown
in only for the sake of a hot-selling soundtrack. While
the songs in Shrek do a better job at helping the
story than the pop songs in A Knight's Tale, a
few of the songs simply seem... well... out of place.
Yet others do a good job of enhancing the story (i.e.
the Hallelujah song segment).
There are two items that seemed very much out of place
for the film:
The end song. At the end of Shrek, Donkey
sings an upbeat song that seems just thrown into the
movie without any purpose or advancement of the film,
creating a temporary pause until the credits role (even
though it is still entertaining to watch). It is much
out of place like Disney's Mulan, which did the
exact same thing.
Beauty and the Beast replica. There is a scene near
the end of the movie that doesn't play like a parody,
but rather like an exact replica of a scene from Beauty
and the Beast which had those with me at the press
screening exclaiming, "oh, brother" versus
laughing. While the parody in Shrek is pulled
off with great precision and humor throughout the entire
movie, this one scene seemed misplaced.
The Disney Factor
Much has been made about DreamWorks' jabs against Disney
in Shrek. The hype in this aspect has been so strong
that when you view Shrek, you'll see that the hype
was overblown. Yes, there are fun and gentle jabs taken
at Disney characters and Disneyland. However, only in
one instance is the imitation (remember, imitation is
a form of flattery) way overdone. That is a scene at the
end of the movie that nearly identically replicates a
scene from Beauty and the Beast in a way that makes
it feel more uncomfortable than funny. The few other moments
are carried off well and greatly enhance the parody that
Shrek tries to achieve.
should be noted that Disney fairy tale characters aren't
the only ones that are given jabs in this comedy.
Warning to Parents
I would strongly advise, if you are a parent, that you
see Shrek before deciding whether or not to take
your kids to see this movie (if you do decide to take
your kids, you'll equally enjoy it a second time). If
you normally take your kids to PG movies, then Shrek
should not be an exception. However, if you don't, then
you should be forewarned that there are some mild language
situations, humor situations, and mild sexual references
that you may be uncomfortable with your child viewing.
The word "a*s" is said about four times in
the movie with only one of those times being the equal
reference to a donkey (Jack A*S).
In one scene a dragon kisses Shrek's rear end (by accident,
but it is clearly shown).
In one scene, the donkey pees on a fire.
Some of the songs have lyrics like, "I don't give
a damn about my bad reputation."
clear that DreamWorks does not have the Pixar touch when
making "children" movies because of the PG content.
This will definitely offend some parents, but others may
turn a blind eye to it because of the film's overall enjoyment
factor. Still other parents may not find anything in the
Shrek is a shoe-in blockbuster at the box office
and for good reason. It is a very enjoyable film that
puts you in a world of parody never seen in animated form.
The time and quality that went into the backgrounds, drawing,
animation, and overall production really show in Shrek
and add to the enjoyment.
last year's Chicken Run and this year's Shrek,
DreamWorks is really displaying an honorable array of
overall quality production values in its animated movies.
Media FX Magazine gives Shrek an 8.5 on a scale
of 1 to 10.
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