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Three years later, we got the second installment in the 'Shrek' franchise. With the first movie's heavy pop-culture references and jokes, 'Shrek 2' could have gotten pretty dumb, pretty fast. Instead Dreamworks took the high road and, like 'Toy Story 2,' was able to create as good of a movie as the first. This was surprising, because in my experience, sequels usually find themselves mired in a string of unfunny jokes, superfluous characters, and ridiculous plotlines. This usually happens if the sequel is rushed out the door in order to capitalize on the popularity of the first. It seems that the three year gap helped Dreamworks create another original tale that had just as much adult-oriented humor as the first.
This time Shrek and Fiona have married and Fiona's royal parents have invited them to their kingdom of Far Far Away for a celebration. Shrek isn't too fond on the idea of going. He's afraid their ogre-ness will scare her parents off. Shrek is tired of being discriminated against anyway, and wants to just sit back and relax in his swamp with his new ogre wife.
When Shrek and Fiona finally arrive at Far Far Away, they find themselves in a war with the king and queen. The king is angry that his little girl is an ogre, married an ogre, and will have ogre children. Shrek is angry because the king is angry. So, who better to help out the situation than a kind, loving Fairy Godmother, right? Wrong.
The aspect of 'Shrek 2' that I find the most appealing is the switching of roles the filmmakers have done with storybook constants like Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother. Here they are villains. What a nice change to the old stereotypical feelings we have about those characters.
It wouldn't be a sequel without the introduction of new characters, most prominently Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas). 'Shrek 2' doesn't introduce too many more main characters so the introduction of Puss is hilarious and never feels like it overwhelms the characters we've come to know and love.
I love 'Shrek 2' as much as the first and find its action and humor exciting to watch. The end action scene, played out to the song "Holding Out for a Hero," is one of the very best sequences of the movie. Gotta love Mongo.
Like the first one, I could watch this second installment over and over and never tire of it. It's fun for parent and kids. Watch it again and you'll quickly remember how much you loved it the first time you saw it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Paramount Home Entertainment offers 'Shrek 2' to 3D Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. Sitting comfortably on opposing panels, the first is a Region Free, BD50 while the second is a Region 1 locked, DVD-9 containing all the special features. The Blu-ray disc commences with a trailer for 'Puss in Boots' before switching over the standard main menu selection with full-motion clips and music. Despite what the packaging reads, this release comes only with a 3D version of the movie; no 2D alternative available.
This sequel in the 'Shrek' franchise rides onto 3D Blu-ray with similar results as its predecessor. By this, I'm referring only to the quality of the 3D picture. If we're comparing the two, however, this 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 encode wins hands down, offering the finer presentation overall, especially because it doesn't display any of those distracting artifacts which were visible in the first movie. Still, part two does come with one or two problematic moments, such as ringing around a few objects, likely caused from the boost in contrast to compensate for the tinted glasses. There's also a teensy-weensy amount of banding in scenes with blue skies. None of these anomalies are enough to shock and dismay, but perceptible nonetheless.
Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the rest of the picture shows amazing fine object and textural details, significantly better than its predecessor. We can see every threading and fiber of Shrek's shirt, make out individual hairs on the bodies of Puss and Donkey, and discern each speck of fairy dust when it floats in the air. No matter what scene we're looking at, everything remains beautifully defined and distinct. Contrast and brightness is right on the money, making the smallest bit of background information in the distance perfectly visible. Meanwhile, blacks are pristine with excellent shadow delineation in the several dark sequences, further adding to the dimensionality of the image. The color palette is even more resplendent than before, providing the movie with lots of enthusiasm and energy.
The 3D aspect of the transfer, however, is not quite as overwhelming and immersive as we'd expect from such a well-made CG-animated motion picture. Don't get me wrong, it often looks pretty spectacular and on par with the first movie, but those spectacular moments seem to only happen on occasion rather than consistent from beginning to end. This is a very subtle 3D presentation where the image penetrates deep into the screen but never protrudes into your face. Characters frequently appear to move within a genuine three-dimensional space, but many scenes tend to look a bit flatter than others. The most effective moments are action sequences, like Fiona's first encounter with the Fairy Godmother or the large commotion inside Godmother's potion factory.
The transfer doesn't disappoint, that's for sure, but it misses that extra pinch of 3D magic to completely wow viewers.
As with its predecessor, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack is identical to the previous Blu-ray release, and like the first movie, the music and pop songs take command of the entire soundscape to suck fans into the movie. In particular, Fairy Godmother's grand entrance at the beginning is a gaudy piece of showmanship. While her hilariously satirical send-up of more recent Disney songs fills most all the speakers, items pan and move about the room effortlessly, encircling the listener in a highly effective manner. Ambient effects are also employed in equal measure, filling in the silence with satisfyingly immersive soundfield.
In the front soundstage, dynamic range maintains as sharply detailed and expansive presence, cleanly differentiating the large variety of sounds. Off-screen effects are superb and amazingly convincing, while vocals remain clear-cut and perfectly intelligible amid the many loud segments. Movement between the three front channels is flawless with incredible fidelity and acoustics, creating a highly enjoyable and entertaining image. The low-end is decidedly responsive for the song selections with a pronounced punch when required, such as Mondo's march to the castle. It's not quite earth-shattering or overwhelming, but deep and precise with every step of the gingerbread monster.
Just like the first movie, this 3D Blu-ray edition of 'Shrek 2' carries over the same assortment of supplements.
Featuring the same voice talents as the first movie, 'Shrek 2' continues delivering laughs and enchantment by having our swamp-owning green hero meet the parents. Poignant and clever cultural references abound once again while also expanding on this fairytale universe with the introduction of a couple new characters. The 3D Blu-ray arrives as a two-disc combo pack, featuring an excellent audio and video presentation and carrying over the same set of supplements as before. Those hungering for more 3D material will not be disappointed. Recommended.