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SHREK 2, 2004
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Rupert Everett
After battling a fire-breathing dragon and the evil Lord Farquaad to win the hand of Princess Fiona, Shrek now faces his greatest challenge: the in-laws. Shrek and Princess Fiona return from their honeymoon to find an invitation to visit Fiona’s parents, the King and Queen of the Kingdom of Far, Far Away. With Donkey along for the ride, the newlyweds set off. All of the citizens of Far, Far Away turn out to greet their returning Princess, and her parents happily anticipate the homecoming of their daughter and her new Prince. But no one could have prepared them for the sight of their new son-in-law, not to mention how much their little girl had…well…changed. Little did Shrek and Fiona know that their marriage had foiled all of her father’s plans for her future…and his own. Now the King must enlist the help of a powerful Fairy Godmother, the handsome Prince Charming and that famed ogre killer Puss In Boots to put right his version of "happily ever after."
I love this movie. I really do. This is a movie that really has a lot of heart to it and a whole mess of character growth that drives the somewhat tired and hackneyed plot. Which is what is so magical. You’ve seen this story a hundred times before, but it has new life this time about. That’s exactly what this franchise is about, taking the old and making them new. And boy did they get it right this time.
The Story: The story, as I stated above, is the tired “in-laws that don’t approve” angle. Which is fine, this is a kids movie after all. The pacing at first is a bit draggy and slow, but very quickly becomes comfortable. Like laying on the couch with a cold drink on a nice evening. By the time Shrek is on his quest you’re right there with him this time. While it’s a kids movie that really walks a road you should know, you are emotionally invested with Shrek. I’m rooting for him the whole time and concerned that he might not succeed. Which is crazy, because my suspension of disbelief rarely gets evoked during a kids movie. They’ve humanized these characters so well that you really feel for them. It’s some of the best writing I’ve seen for a kids film in a good long while.
Acting: Myers and Diaz continue on their steady trend of performance with the franchise with more of the same. Myers does a bit of a better job this time at really giving us a window to Shrek’s emotional side. Eddie Murphy, however, now has some competition. Antonio Bandaras as Puss in Boots became a sensation when this puppy was released in theaters (no pun intended.) While Rupert Everet is a nice addition to the cast as Prince Charming, he’s by no means close to Lord Farquod.
Directing: There’s 3 directors. I really can’t imagine sharing that chair with another person on my own projects. So sharing with two must have been a strong collaboration to get such a solid product. It’s interesting to see how teamwork can really pull out something incredible when everyone does their job and is on the same page.
Cinematography: I enjoyed the overall look of this film more than the first. I had previously complained about the lack of color and contrast in the first one. In the case of Shrek 2, it’s definitely an improvement. Maybe because with the success of the first one they had a bigger budget, or where allowed to put more care into the film or technology improved. Whatever the reason, I liked the look and shot design of this film a lot more.
Editing: Here, again, I take some issue. I say “some” because the overall film itself is quite compact and strong. It’s the same problem as the first film that everything within the scenes individually that lacks some sort of motivation or pacing/flow.
Score: I low on money these days, like most people in our world. When I was done watching this movie, I went on Amazon and got myself the score. That should tell you all you need to know about how great it is.
In closing: Shrek 2 really takes this whole world to a new place…again. The original concept of the first film was taking something we know and making it fresh. This time, they took what we know-we knew, and made it even fresher (if that’s not a word, it now is.) It has heart and fun and comedy and great music. It’s really a piece of great animation work that will always have a home in my DVD collection.