I was a big fan of the original Shrek. Ever since I shelled out $800 for a copy of LightWave 3D v.4.0, I have avidly awaited the arrival of new, computer-animated movies. The Disney/Pixar ones are good (A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, Finding Nemo), but often cater just a little too much to the kids for my taste. Dreamworks/PDI (Antz, Shrek) haven’t shied away from a PG-13 rating and I commend them for that. There’s a big difference between sprinkling in a couple jokes to placate the adults who are stuck in the theater with their kids versus writing a movie for adults. My views will likely change if and when I ever have children, but for now I’ll take the adult humor every time.
Shrek came out around the same time as Pixar’s Monster’s Inc., and because they were both computer-generated movies, they invited the typical visual comparisons. Deciding which you like better isn’t easy. Take A Bug’s Life vs. Antz, for instance. You have to take into account that the two studios made stylistic decisions about their movies (i.e., Disney’s pastels vs. PDI’s realism.) Pixar is the easy choice, but I always thought that the original Shrek raised the bar not only in their environmental renderings, but also in character animation. Shrek could have had no plot at all and I would still have enjoyed watching the characters interact in their make-believe world.
Creating a sequel to a movie like that must be difficult. Because your target audience is already familiar with the world, you’re not much able to tamper with the look. Instead of wow’ing everyone with fabulous things they’ve never seen before, you’re instead forced to try to wow them with everything they’re already familiar with. In this Hollywood day and age, it’s almost too much to ask of studios to continue with traditional storytelling devices, like say, character development. But in Shrek 2, that’s not only what they did, but also what made the movie so great. Rare for a sequel, main characters in Shrek 2 undergo significant changes even while new characters are introduced.
Speaking of newly introduced characters, I was thoroughly expecting to hate Antonio Banderas’ Puss In Boots. Perhaps it was because the previews didn’t mesh very well with what I’d heard the critics saying about the character, I don’t know, but I found myself literally laughing myself to tears in the scene where he meets Shrek. In fact, one of the reasons I feel confident that everyone will like Shrek 2 is the way in which it made me laugh. No small feat, considering the mood I was in after putting my wife on a plane out of the country earlier that same day.
Shrek 2 is great, start to finish. I wonder if it’ll even be possible for another summer movie (Spiderman 2? The Village?) to beat it in my insignificant rankings. Oh, and before I forget, make sure you stay through the credits if you want to catch a tiny Donkey epilogue.
Trivial thought: Interesting how some of the best jokes were just background (Stonehenge? Justin? Starbucks? Hilarious!)
What did I find worthwhile about the movie? The animation, the environment, the new renderings. The climatic fight scene (reminded me fondly of the adrenalized escape from the dragon in the first Shrek!) And, of course, Puss In Boots was so cool that I want to create a fan site for him.
Would I recommend the movie? To strangers on the street!
Will I buy it on DVD? The day it comes out!
Overall Summer Movie Ranking
The Day After Tomorrow