Shrek Review

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zagureanu's review of Shrek

★★★★☆

“Sequels are notoriously difficult beasties, a bit like...”

Written on: 11/01/2010 by zagureanu (27 reviews written)

Sequels are notoriously difficult beasties, a bit like ogres really. Often vehicles to make yet more cash for studios by simply churning out the same initial formula, most are destined to disappoint. I caught the original movie mid-Atlantic whilst en-route to Florida so the chance to see this version on the big screen was a real draw, together with the top quality of the original global phenomenon of Shrek. And so it was that I bundled the family off to see Shrek2 on preview weekend in the UK.

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Director: Andrew Adamson

Cert: U

Run time: 92 mins

Main cast:

Mike Myers ~ Shrek

Eddie Murphy ~ Donkey

Cameron Diaz ~ Princess Fiona

Julie Andrews ~ Queen

Antonio Banderas ~ Puss In Boots

John Cleese ~ King

Rupert Everett ~ Prince Charming

Jennifer Saunders ~ Fairy Godmother

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Following on from the first movie (and why not?), Shrek, the green ogre who lives in a swamp dominated by nursery rhyme characters and a donkey, is now on honeymoon with Princess Fiona. Having rescued her from an evil dragon, Shrek and Fiona are content to live the rest of their lives, Fiona now an ogress, her nightly curse having been made permanent during the first movie.

This domestic bliss is broken when the twosome receive a Royal summons to return to a Land, Far Far Away to get the blessing of the King and Queen following their recent marriage. Having endured the endlessly repetitive "Are we their yet?" courtesy of the Murphyised Donkey, they arrive to a muted reception when the good people of what looks and feels to all intents and purposes like a cartoon Hollywood realise that the pair aren't quite what they expected. A fitful family dinner and the introduction of a vengeful fairy Godmother introduce the menace into the plot with the latter planning to dupe the princess into loving, Prince Charming, her son rather than Shrek courtesy of one of her myriad of potions. This is only after the King has hired a hitman/hitpuss in the shape of the Spanish, swordsman, Puss-in-Boots who fails miserably only to befriend our hero, Shrek and become his ally (much to the chagrin of Donkey). So will the Fairy Godmother's evil plan pay off, will Shrek be ousted and will the King's murky secret be revealed as blackmailed by TFGM? Well, what do you think but this is a children's film, you know?

The original movie was a huge hit, along with having the distinction of being awarded the first Oscar for Best Animated Film. It also happens to be the best selling DVD of its type having clocked up 9 million sales. Shrek2 has been big business in the US already taking $353 million in 3 weeks. Quite frankly, it's eminently possible to see why.

First of all, the CGI is breathtaking. I had to stare hard at the quality of the animation, what with clothing that looked remarkably real even down to fine creases. There's ample opportunity for the creators to show off and how with fantastic dresses and super defined close ups of Fiona's and Prince Charming's faces, in particular. In the tradition of Toy Story, the animations have more than a passing resemblance to the actors employed as voice overs and John Cleese, Cameron Diaz and Mike Myers were instantly recognisable. I have to confess that I thought Prince Charming was Keanu Reeves rather than the aristocratically smooth, Rupert Everett but whoever said that I had 20/20 vision these days?

Then there's the humour. Adult for the most part but always gentle enough to not offend, the script crashes along at a hundred miles an hour, mainly driven by the hyper-active Eddie Murphy revelling in his latest reprisal of the hapless Donkey character. I lost count of the parodies. There were definite references to Terminator2, Mission Impossible, The Oscar Ceremonies, NYPD Blue/Cops just to name a few and, of course, the commercial empire that is Hollywood was neatly drawn, what with the Far Far Away in the background a la Hollywood Hills and the subtle product placements including StarBucks (read Far Bucks). The script must have been meticulously etched out over a lengthy period of time, such is the level of detail achieved by the writers.

Just to add to the pizzazz was the undeniable nods to Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and various other fairy tales. These have been suitably updated for modern audiences with the laughter inducing sleight of hand that showed Princes Charles, Justin Timberlake and the spooky mirror from Slow White in a comic light. Blink and you'll miss them but there they are once again underlining the minutiae of the script.

The musical score makes this movie every bit a musical what with "Hold Out For A Hero", "Ever Fallen In Love" (Great to hear the Buzzcocks again) and the David Bowie anthem "Changes" to name but a few, the frenetic pace of the story is more than ably assisted by the choice of songs to accompany the action.

Drawbacks? I couldn't really think of too many. I suppose the premise was simplistic and you could see where the story was going so no real surprises. The moral remained the same i.e. beauty is only skin deep and the finale was pretty predictable but all of this was outweighed by a fabulous musical score that carried along a plot that kept the audience engaged from start to finish.

Favourite scenes? There were several but up there would be the Mission Impossible take off including Pinocchio, 3 Blind Mice and a Gingerbread man breaking our heroes out of jail thanks to the strangest puppet wearing of a thong that you could imagine. For cat lovers, check out the gorgeous saucer eyes of Puss-in-Boots at key times during the movie as well as a propensity to scratch in the meanest of body locations (eye watering for us men). The closing finale takes some beating too with a wonderfully choreographed sequence replete with upbeat closing track and a big finish (even Jennifer Saunders manages one more parody which would make Arnie Schwarzenneger smile)

To tell you the truth, by the end I felt like cheering. This was £13 well spent on a family ticket to see a great movie in all the splendour of the big screen. Would I recommend this? With Shrek3 and 4 in production, a dynasty is being established but all I can say is that Shrek2 is one of the most uplifting movies of the year and, dare I say it, a monster hit.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks for reading

Marandina

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