‘Shrek Forever After’ comes to UK Region free Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode framed in the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Both 2D and 3D versions of the movie were released theatrically, but here the 2D version is reviewed. We are presented with a very colourful image, with the deep green of our ogre friend standing out like never before and the purple dragon is stunning. Detail is outstanding, particularly in the early shots of Shrek’s home and at the kid’s party with many ankle biters and fairytale characters running around. Donkey’s hair or fur looks better than before as they seem to have found a new way to create it in the digital realm. The fact that the movie was created digitally also means that we have a very clean image with no film grain in sight. Having said that, there is no clinical feel to the picture as a great deal of effort has gone into making it feel natural, if that’s possible with a fantasy. Contrast is excellent throughout and we are treated to some nice deep blacks in the night shots. There are quite a few darkish sequences in the film, which makes me wonder how this will fare on 3D when that version comes to Blu-ray, with the polarising glasses to darken it even further. In short, it looks great and really can’t be faulted.
The audio on ‘Shrek Forever After’ comes in a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround mix which is of demo quality. There is some directionality to the dialogue within the wide front sound stage with surrounds being used for discrete spot effects such as things being dropped or keys being jingled off camera. That’s not all though, the surrounds are also used to provide a seamless surround effect for occasions where the dragon flies around or when Shrek is taking on the witches who fly past on their broomsticks. The sound steering is absolutely precise and the extra two rear speakers help fill in the gap behind you. The subwoofer adds real dimensionality too with the various thumps, rumbles and crashes in the movie. The music track brings the stereo pair to life with Karen Carpenter’s warm voice over an excellent montage sequence while other performers provide the audio backdrop at various other points. This is a superb soundtrack.
The version reviewed here is the 2 disc UK Region free set which has the Blu-ray movie and extras on Disc 1, while disc 2 is a DVD of the film. The extras include:
Animators Corner – A Picture in Picture track that plays along with the movie, where the team of four animators explains how they worked their magic, backed up by storyboards and animatics of scenes as they appear on screen.
Shrek’s Interactive Journey: IV - This feature opens with a map where viewers are invited to click on any location on the map to see artwork that helped inspire the creation of Shrek’s world. Areas such as Shrek’s Swamp, Crone’s Nest Carriage Park, Ogre Camp, Dragon’s Keep, the Village and Rumpel’s Palace are included. It’s interesting to see the images that formed the canvas for the animators. Getting out of this feature caused a bit of head scratching and I eventually ejected the disc.
Spotlight on Shrek (HD, 14 mins) – This short looks back over the lovable ogre’s career with clips from the four movies and input from Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Producer Geoffrey Katzenberg, the CG effects guys and many more. They all love each other in this bit of PR puff.
Deleted scenes (HD, 6 mins) – The clips are introduced by Director Mike Mitchell and it’s interesting to note that some scenes were removed as they showed the fairytale characters being mean to their friend Shrek. Some scenes are in storyboard form as they were cut prior to final animation and rendering – such as the Ninja Gingerbread Man and the Emperor’s New Clothes sequences.
Filmmaker’s Commentary - Director Mike Mitchell, Head of Story and voice of Rumpelstiltskin Walt Dohrn together with Producers Gina Shay and Teresa Cheng provide us with some production details as the film plays. They tell us who animated which sequence, who storyboarded them and mention the 3D version quite a lot. As Commentary tracks go, it’s all a bit self congratulatory with little focus on how things were actually done, so no animators tricks of the trade here. It would be great if we knew the people they talk about. Animators tend to live in their own wee world.
Conversation with the Cast (HD, 9 mins) - The cast are lined up in canvas chairs on a stage and invited to reflect upon the success of the Shrek films. All the stars are there. It looks like a Press launch type of affair in front of a seated audience.
The Tech of Shrek Forever After (HD, 8 mins) - As it says on the tin, we get a look behind the scenes at DreamWorks Animation and much is made of the work done to present it theatrically in 3D with discussions around lighting, hair etc using the latest techniques.
From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek the Musical (HD, 8 mins) - Cameron Diaz opens this short about the stage musical and the producer’s explain the differences that were made to ease the transition from the cinematic medium. It’s all about conveying the spirit of the characters rather than photocopying the film. Might be fun to see it all told through song.
Shrek’s Yule Log (HD, 30 mins) - This would be good to have playing on a loop on a cold night as mostly it’s a shot of a crackling log fire with the occasional fairytale character wandering in and doing something funny for a few seconds.
Donkey’s Carolling Christmas-Tacular (HD, 5 mins) - You can choose to play this with on screen Sing-along lyrics in case you feel inclined to join in with Donkey, Shrek, family and friends in their own versions of Christmas songs. The kids will love it as there are some rude lyrics.
12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book (HD, 2 mins) - Shrek tells the 12 Days of Christmas as a bedtime story to his kids using a pop up book. It’s quite amusing for adults in places too.
Donkey’s Decoration Scramble - In this interactive game you have to help Donkey fix his Christmas decorations which are all in pieces. Using your remote, you need to choose the pieces you think will correctly repair each decoration, further complicated by less time being allowed for each. If you mess it up three times, you have to start all over again. Deep joy.
‘Shrek Forever After’ makes its appearance in time for Christmas on UK Region free Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode framed in the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image quality is superb in terms of colour, contrast, detail and sharpness while the digital source means an absence of film grain. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround audio provides a seamless soundstage for the various fly pasts by dragons and witches while the dialogue is clear and crisp throughout. A fine brace of featurettes, a filmmaker’s commentary and some deleted scenes make up the extras in this package which also includes a DVD version of the movie. Shrek goes all ‘alternate reality’ in his voyage to discover what’s really important in his life with the voice talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. A fitting final chapter to the Shrek story.
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