Shrek - Special Edition (U)

Review by Marc Ashdown

DVD FEATURES: Disc One: Shrek's Revoice Studio: Record your voice over your favourite characters' lines and star in one of 12 entire scenes!; Behind-the-scenes featurette; Hidden fun facts; Hilarious character interviews; Dream Works Kids-This way to Play!; "Game Swamp": over 15 interactive games and activities including Shrek Pinball, Rescue the Princess and Soup Slam; Shrek's music room: music videos from Smash mouth, Baha men and more; Favourite Scenes Selection; Languages: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround); Subtitles: English for the hard of hearing; 1.33:1 Full Frame
Disc Two: Filmmakers' Commentary; "The Tech of Shrek"; Storyboard Pitch of Outrageous Deleted Scenes; Technical Goofs; International Dubbing Featurette; Character Design Progression reel; Hints for Shrek Xbox video game only available on this DVD; Languages: English (Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, 2.0 Surround); Subtitles: English for the hard of hearing; 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Three: Soundtrack: Stay Home - Matt Mahaffey, I'm a Believer - Smash Mouth, Like Wow! - Leslie Carter, It Is You (I have Love) - Dana Glover, Best Years of Our Lives - Baha Men, Bad Reputation - Halfcocked, My Beloved Monster - Eels, You Belong to Me - Jeson Wade, All Star - Smash Mouth, Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright, I'm On My Way - The Proclaimers, I'm a Believer (reprise) - Eddie Murphy, True Love's First Kiss.

THE CARTOON fraternity gets all post-modern with the latest animated ground-breaker as Shrek - a thoroughly enjoyable ironic take on the hackneyed fairytale theme - bursts onto the screen.

Boasting the formidable vocal talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow, the latest Dreamworks SKG offering is laced with enough comedy and tragedy to appeal to audiences of all ages. Myers' jolly green giant Shrek has his loner universe shattered when a technicolour collection of Disney's favourite characters descends on his swamp after being banished from Lord Farquaad (Lithgow)'s kingdom.

Intent on getting his disgusting universe back to its (un)natural state, Shrek approaches Farquaad and brokers a deal which leaves him on a mission to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona (Diaz) from a dragon-protected fortress.

After unwittingly enlisting the help of a wisecracking ass (Murphy), Shrek embarks on a journey of self-discovery - with a number of surprises en route - which is by turns hilarious and absorbing.

The simplicity of the whole thing is perhaps the most endearing aspect, but while the story may be straight-forward, it's laced with layers of delightfully observed gags (like an onion, as Shrek would put it) which unravel with increasingly amusing results.

Taking a distorted look at the cartoon industry throughout, it never shies from poking fun at just about everyone involved and is uniformly spot-on with its perfectly measured script, direction and delivery.

It's not quite as seminal as Toy Story was and is instead simply more of the same, only better quality; but the impressive technological advances made in recent years are up there for all to see and the end result is definitely the best yet.

Where its predecessors have succeeded by offering a range of characters so diverse that everyone can find something to empathise with, here pretty much everything is focussed on the central threesome - and a triumvirate triumph they are too.

Although Myers' comic talents are wasted somewhat by playing for sympathy rather than laughs, he still achieves much in making a startlingly enigmatic central character from a starting point of a hideous green cartoon troll and a toned down version of his `Fat Bastard' mock-Scottish accent in Austin Powers 2.

It's Murphy, however, who completely steals the show; spraying one-liners like confetti (and hitting the target with almost every one) while managing to somehow remain loveable rather than annoying.

Making up the three, Diaz gives able support and Lithgow is impressive as the evil lord - though he's criminally under-used for the most part. What elevates it above and beyond though is the Scream-esque comic irony it brings to a genre which could have been in danger of flagging. Self-parodying cameos from the Big Bad Wolf, Three Blind Mice, Snow White and the Magic Mirror are topped off by a delightful torture scene involving the Ginger Bread Man and a glass of milk - which sets the tone and sums up the kind of no-holds-barred thrills on offer. First class.

STANDARD FORMAT DVD FEATURES: Shrek's Revoice Studio (DVD ROM); Record your voice over your favourite characters and star in entire scenes!--A DVD first!; Interactive Games: Character Morph, Decorate the Gingerbread Man, Trivia Game; Hilarious Character Interviews; Filmmaker's Commentary; The Tech of Shrek; International Dubbing Featurette; Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party; Animated Menus; Production Notes, Cast and Crew Biographies; Subtitles: English, German Spanish, Portugese. Soundtrack: English. Click here to buy the no-frills version...