I'll admit I've been a fan of the Shrek franchise ever since I saw the first movie in cinemas on the opening weekend. Something unique, something fun and something quite visually gorgeous at a time when CG movies weren't being released every second week. It was the characters, though, that were the most interesting aspect of the movie. My only gripe was Mike Myers use of a near "Austin Powers" styled voice. Still it wasn't enough to make me put Shrek among my favourite CG franchises. After three very impressive movies Dreamworks are back with a fourth, Shrek Forever After...
After challenging evil dragons, rescuing a beautiful princess and saving your in-laws’ kingdom, what’s an ogre to do? Well, if you’re Shrek, you suddenly wind up a domesticated family man. Longing for the days when he felt like a "real ogre", Shrek is duped into signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin and suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is King and Shrek and Fiona have never met. Now, it’s up to Shrek to undo all he’s done - in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his one True Love.
Ultimately this is still a solid movie in the franchise, and possibly better than the third outing a couple of years ago, which mixes it up with an almost entirely new universe for the characters to live in. But for me that's also a part of the problem as the main characters are no longer friends and as a result they lose much of that 'likable' banter between them. Also the Shrek jokes seem to be getting a little stale, but the movie is still one which fans should enjoy.
Shrek Forever After is presented on Blu-Ray at the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. To say this is a reference quality transfer is an understatement. This is video perfection at its best. Colours are bold, fine detail is evident throughout (and really demonstrates how far CG movies have come since the first movie), darker scenes retain their detail and contrast levels are perfectly balanced. Given that this release has been taken direct from the digital source there are no film artifacts evident at all.
Other audio tracks on this release includes an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps, and also French, Dutch and Vlaams Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks also encoded at 640kbps. We sampled each of these tracks brielfy and can't see that anyone would have any issues with the quality of these lossy tracks.
The Animators Corner: This is a Picture-in-Picture commentary which includes Director Mike Mitchell, Head of Story Walt Dohrn (who also voiced Rumpelstiltskin in the film) and Producers Gina Shay and Teresa Cheng. It's quite a lively track with the window showing the people making the comments, but also branches out to interviews with other people including Mike Myers, storyboard sequences, or other relevant material.
Shrek's Interactive Swamp IV (HD): This extra shows a variety of artwork for each location used in the movie. We didn't count but probably 30 or so images are presented here.
Spotlight On Shrek (13:46/HD): This featurette looks at the history of Shrek but also covers how much effort went into designing the ogre, his animation and the voice work from Mike Myers, including the complete re-recording of the original films dialogue to give him a British accent.
Filmmakers Commentary: This audio commentary is primarily the same as that in The Animators Corner PIP track as already detailed above with the additional comments from others such as Mike Myers removed.
Conversation with the Cast (9:18/HD): This is a great extra where the main participants in the movie sit on a panel answering questions. The biggest problem with this is that we only get a short amount of what would have been recorded.
The Tech of Shrek Forever After (7:32/HD): Here we have a look at the technology and the amount of work that went into making this film. While appreciated, and there's some decent detail here, I would love to see someone create an extensive hour long documentary about the technology one day. Still, this is appreciated.
From Swamp To Stage: The Making of Shrek The Musical (8:26/HD): Here's a look at the Shrek musical and how the film has been adapted for the stage.
Shrek's Yule Log (30:18/HD): Probably the most pointless extras we've seen in, well, ever. Essentially it's a fireplace burning and every couple of minutes a Shrek character will walk past, or do something on-screen. Fortunately you can chapter skip to each characters segment.
Deck the Swamp: 12 Days Of Christmas Pop-Up Book (2:18/HD): A pretty cool little story presented in pop-up book fashion with some cute visuals. Would have been pretty spectacular in 3D actually.
Donkey's Decoration Scramble (/HD): A small Java based game where you need to find the right pieces to suit the puzzle.
BD-Live Jukebox (HD): Various songs from Dreamworks movies are available for download.
Review By: Dave Warner