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Shrek 2 (2004)
USA / English
"In summer 2004, they're back for more.... "
Princess Fiona's parents invite her and Shrek to dinner to celebrate her marriage. If only they knew the newlyweds were both ogres.
Mike Myers Shrek (voice)
Eddie Murphy Donkey (voice)
Cameron Diaz Princess Fiona (voice)
Julie Andrews Queen (voice)
Antonio Banderas Puss In Boots (voice)
John Cleese King (voice)
Rupert Everett Prince Charming (voice)
Jennifer Saunders Fairy Godmother (voice)
Aron Warner Wolf (voice)
Kelly Asbury Page/Elf/Nobleman/Nobleman's Son (voice)
Cody Cameron Pinocchio/Three Pigs (voice)
Conrad Vernon Gingerbread Man/Cedric/Announcer/Muffin Man/Mongo (voice)
Christopher Knights Blind Mouse (voice)
David P. Smith Herald/Man with Box (voice)
Mark Moseley Mirror/Dresser (voice)
Director: Andrew Adamson,Kelly Asbury
Producer: David Lipman,Aron Warner,John H. Williams
Writer: William Steig,Andrew Adamson
A Dream World by DreamWorks
Shrek has now vanquished the fire-breathing dragon, eradicated the evil Lord Farquaad and married his Princess Fiona. But now he is facing his biggest challenge yet – meeting Fiona's parents in the Land of Far, Far Away. Dreamworks' second animated installment in the Shrek series was the surprise of the year for me, because it really is every bit as funny as its predecessor – but perhaps not as original or novel, and therefore not as memorable.

The animation, on the other hand, is perfected this time around. Dreamworks always go all the way in this aspect and the result is top-notch and easily exceeds that of its peers (Pixar, Blue Skye Studios). The greatest showcase for this manifests itself in the beginning of the film as Shrek, Fiona and Donkey set out to the Land of Far, Far Away in a horse-driven carriage and travel across mountains, fields, woods and passes – this journey features such gorgeously striking visuals of its scenery that it just touches me. It is downright aesthetically intoxicating.

Its wide-ranging gallery of eccentric characters have also been paid great attention to – this time gloriously supported by A-list actors (John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett) – both in animation and in story. Although Shrek and Fiona are still largely central to the story they now occasionally take a backseat to the new sparkling creatures like Puss-in-Boots, Fairy Godmother, Fiona's parents and yet more of Pinnocchio, Gingie and their crew in the swamp. The film is having a lot of self-referential fun in navigating its many story lines and inside-jokes and it makes no pretense about it. Shrek 2 is therefore positively peppered with rapid-fire dialogue, deadpan humour, pop-culture references and homages (to Ghost Busters, Blazing Saddles, The Lord of the Rings and MORE). It's a little more brave, and a little less serious.

The most credit is however due to its score. I'll admit that I don't know much about subtle musical scores in films, nor is it something that I always pick up on, but in Shrek is becomes the film. Eels make a great appearance in the soundtrack, as does alternative rock songs and classic songs (Funkytown - Lipps, Inc.) – it's amazingly catchy and thanks to its continuous scoring (music in some form in nearly every scene) it invests the film in a sort of lyrical flow. It all fits perfectly and smoothly with the fluid animation and the fairytale setting. It's a dream world beautifully captured by Dreamworks.

Although its key plot outline of Shrek meeting Fiona's parents and feeling inadequate is well-sketched, it suffers numerous diversions that take the form of jokes, detours and supporting characters, massively straying from the template – all of which you cannot help but feel do not quite belong in the story, and serve only the purpose of blatant humour and homages. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but the film occasionally feels a bit disjointed because of it. Its disorganisation is its fatal flaw but there is another woeful mistake in Shrek 2 – its final, cheesy song-and-dancer number at the end. WHY or WHY do so many films fall prey to this horrible device?!

Granted, the latter is not enough to ruin a film on its own but it does remind me of a rather nasty approach that you occasionally feel it takes. Letting its actors shine. Parts of Shrek 2 thereby acts more as an elaborate excuse to parade the 'fun, quirky' actors behind the characters (Antonio Banderas' Hispanic accent seems to be an endless source of amusement as far as the film is concerned). This approach, combined with its slight disorganisation makes this sequel slightly inferior to Shrek I. It is, however, a very funny film that caters to all ages.

7 out of 10

Seen it:Ja
Nr of disks/tapes:1
Storage device:Divx 4
Imdb rating: 7.6
Musician: Harry Gregson-Williams
Running time: 93 min
Everything else:
Last modified: 2007-07-19 20:27:3