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Shrek 2 (U)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

1-DISC DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: The animated spoof Far, Far Away Idol. Technical goofs. Commentary with directors Conrad Vernon and Kelly Asbury. Commentary with prroducer Aron Warner and editor Mike Andrews. Meet Puss In Boots. Meet the Cast of Shrek 2. The Tech of Shrek 2. The Music of Shrek 2. Scene index. Help menus. Previews of Madagascar, Shark Tale and Lemony Snicket. DWK: This Way To Play. Shrek's Music Room. Access favourite scenes. Set top games. DVD-ROM activities.

A MOODY green ogre and his fast-talking donkey look set to continue making an ass out of the competition at the Box Office this Summer, thanks to this wonderfully inventive sequel to the hit movie, Shrek.

Reuniting the vocal talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz, Shrek 2 furthers the adventures of the not-so-jolly green giant, as he contemplates married life and meeting the in-laws for the first-time.

The ensuing mayhem is supremely enjoyable stuff, matching - and, in some cases, bettering - the original, without ever feeling like a simple retread.

Obviously, many of the components which helped to make Shrek such a success are back, including support characters such as The Gingerbread Man and The Three Blind Mice, but the introduction of several new characters goes a long way to heightening the enjoyment - not to mention the improved quality of the animation, and the slickness of the jokes.

When Shrek (Myers) arrives at the Far, Far Away home of his beloved Princess Fiona (Diaz), against his better judgement, the welcome he receives from King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) is far more hostile than even he could have predicted.

Far from understanding his daughters feelings, King Harold resolves to get rid of the ogre and, with the wickedly scheming help of The Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), sets about replacing the giant with the real Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), thereby restoring the natural order of fairy tales.

Harold’s plan goes awry, however, when the assassin he hires to dispose of Shrek - the swashbuckling Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) - ends up siding with the heroes, as they, in turn, bid to ensure that true love conquers all.

The beauty of Shrek 2 lies in its ability to poke fun at the whole fairy tale genre, while also remaining emotionally satisfying to boot.

Hence, audiences can laugh along at in-jokes at the expense of Disney and co, while also identifying with many of the themes it represents, from accepting people for who they are, rather than how they look, and friendship, loyalty and love.

What’s more, adults can sit back and enjoy the slightly racier jokes, safe in the knowledge that their kids will be laughing at them for a whole different reason. The writing team behind Shrek is that good.

There is so much to admire about the film, in fact, that second and third viewings are virtually guaranteed, just to fully appreciate everything that happens in each scene (in the foreground and background), and the sheer volume of the gags, both visual and verbal.

A Mission Impossible-style rescue sequence, involving Pinocchio and cohorts, rates as one of several set-piece highlights (all of which work on a grander scale than the original), while a tongue-in-cheek parody of US reality TV show, Cops, is virtually guaranteed to bring the house down.

But there are also neat little asides at the expense of arch-rivals, Disney (Captain Hook is seen playing the piano in a bar for cartoon villains), while Spider-Man, the Lord of the Rings and Meet The Parents all get comic nods in some way.

Of the new characters, Saunders does extremely well as the evil fairy godmother, tapping into her bitchy Absolutely Fabulous persona perfectly, while Cleese makes a suitably engaging king.

But it is Banderas who steals the show, carving out a character so rich in humour, that he has virtually presented audiences with the feel-good creation of the Summer - much as Johnny Depp did with Pirates of the Caribbean last year.

But then he is merely the icing on a cake so well-made, that you won’t mind coming back for more, several times over.

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