DreamWorks Review: Shrek

DreamWorks Animation's 5th feature length film
DreamWorks Animation’s 5th feature length film

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My Opinion right after watching movie

My opinion right after watching Shrek is that it is great. Great story, likable and developed characters, a great but confused soundtrack. I do not like pop-culture references and there are many in here (some I do not like), and the jokes in this movie are not as funny as I remembered or as other people say. The dark humor is great though.  The CGI has definitely aged, but it is a pretty film. Shrek is one of the best DreamWorks films, but DreamWork’s best is nothing compared to WDAS’s or Pixar’s best.

Production

When this company was founded, John H. Williams brought a book from his kids to the company and it caught Jeffrey’s attention and decided to green-lit the project. Steven Spielberg originally was going to produce the film in 1991, and the film would have been in hand-drawn animation. It would have starred Bill Murray as Shrek and Steve Martin as Donkey. Production in the CGI version that it is today started on Halloween 1996 , meaning production was more than 4 1/2 years. It was originally going to be a stop-motion picture, but it was unsatisfactory, but then they decided to go with live-action, but that did not work either, so they decided to go with CGI.

Chris Farley was originally cast as Shrek and recorded part of the dialogue before his death in 1997. Then, the role was given to Mike Myers. Shrek’s “air quotes” in the film apparently is a homage to Farley, whose character Bennett Brauer used air quotes also. Apparently, Cameron Diaz was very active with Fiona’s kung-fu scene since she was filming Charlie’s Angels at the same time. Originally, Robin Williams was asked to be in the film, but if anyone knows what happened with him and Katzenberg in the production of Aladdin, you would know that Robin Williams and DreamWorks will not ever mix. Mike Myers recorded his lines without an accent, but him and the company thought that it did not sound right, so he re-recorded it with an accent. The animation team for Antz moved straight to Shrek after production for Antz was finished. Apparently, the company was afraid of getting sued by Disney for not-so-subtly insulting them. Also, Katzenberg and Murphy promised one another to work on an animated film together since the 80s in the beginning of their film careers.

Story

The story opens in a fairy-tale book with Shrek (Mike Myers) reading what I assume to be Sleeping Beauty, and he rips a page of the book to wipe his a$$ and says that it a load of shit.

Disney diss#1
Disney diss#1.

The song “All Star” plays over Shrek living a normal day of his life, showing how gross and ugly he is. This day includes scaring off mobs by either being an ogre, his nasty mouth, or both.

Wouldn't you run away from that nasty mouth?
Wouldn’t you run away from that nasty mouth?

It switches to Donkey and a bunch of other fairy-tale creatures being sold to the palace guards and an old lady tries to sell Donkey (Eddie Murphy) because he is a talking donkey, but could not prove it as Donkey refused to talk. Fairy dust fell on him  and he started to fly, revealing to them that he can talk and fails at trying to make a flying escape.

Shrek2001

He manages to escape and bumps into Shrek. He uses the ogre for protection, and the guards leave him alone. He follows Shrek to his annoyance. Donkey continues to ramble on about pop-culture references (that is not funny). He follows him to his swamp and convinces Shrek to stay there for a night, but Donkey is not allowed from coming in the house.

His humor has definitely worn off over the years. He is sympathetic though.
His humor has definitely worn off over the years. He is sympathetic though.

It is night-time and Shrek goes outside to see a bunch of fairy-tale characters (a good amount designed like the Disney versions), and flips out because they are all in his swamp where he wants privacy. They tell him that Lord Faarquad (John Lithgow) sent them there because they did not fit in with the lord’s dream of an ideal kingdom. Shrek and Donkey (to his chagrin) goes to his castle to get the creatures to leave.

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The scene changes to Faarquad torturing the Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernin) to find out where the remaining fairy creatures are. This is disturbed by his magic mirror (Chris Miller) being delivered to him. We do not know why he wants the mirror initially. The mirror tells him that he needs to marry a princess to become a king.

This is just pure torture. Poor thing
This is just pure torture. Poor thing.

He parodies a dating show with Snow White, Cinderella, and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) as the contestants. He chooses Fiona. Shrek and Donkey show up to the kingdom the next morning. After another Disney diss.

Haha Disney. Kiss my ass.
Haha Disney. Kiss my ass.

They go and confront Faarquad, who is holding a tournament to see which knight is going to fetch him Fiona. Shrek ends up beating them up and Faarquad sends him to fetch her in promise that the fairy-tale creatures will leave.

After Shrek goes on about how him and onions have layers and some Murphy humor, there is a montage of the two travelling day and night while some 50’s song plays over (I don’t understand what the rock era has to do with this movie or scene).

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They get to Fiona’s tower which is surrounded by lava, and Donkey wimps out of walking across the weak bridge. Shrek tricks him into crossing over by doing this:

Yes because swinging around like this will not make it break in real life. This shit can only happen in movies.
Yes because swinging around like this will not make it break in real life. This shit can only happen in movies.

The two decide to split apart (Donkey go for the princess and Shrek defeat the dragon), but the opposite happens, with Donkey being stuck with the dragon who has a crush on him.

Like I said, shit like this can only happen in the movies....... more specifically this one.
Like I said, shit like this can only happen in the movies……. more specifically this one.

Shrek goes to Fiona, who is trying to have her cliche meeting going on, but Shrek grabs her up and tells her there is no time and to cut the fairy-tale crap.

Look at her; you know she does not look so innocent and naive to not not plan every detail. She is a thinker
Look at her; you know she does not look so innocent and naive to not plan every detail. She is a thinker

After they trap Dragon and get Donkey, the three make it out of the castle and onto a safe land. Fiona wants to see her knight’s face and demands him to take off the helmet. She says that he must be her true love, and they laugh in her face (this showing that she should stop with her type of thinking). He takes it off and she does not like what she sees.

I don't know how she did not know he was an ogre until ajust now. His green hands were visible, and she could see some of his face, where there was green. Oh well.
I don’t know how she did not know he was an ogre until just now. His green hands were visible, and she could see some of his face, where there was green. Oh well.

They are on their way back to Duloch (Faarquad’s kingdom) and when she finally realizes that it is going to take more than a day, she tells them that they need to rest, so she can hide herself from turning into an ogre from them. She locks herself in the cave for the night.

1

After the sun sets, Shrek tells Donkey about some ogre tales through the consolations, and tells him that he is going to build a wall around his swamp and Donkey asks him why. Shrek responds that he is sick of people looking at him like he is a monster so he wants to avoid that and to be left alone.

We are shown Farquaad asking a disgusted mirror to show Fiona while he is in his bed, so he could…….. ummmmmm…..

Disgusting..... DreamWorks is ballsy around this time in their films though.
Disgusting….. DreamWorks is ballsy around this time in their films though.

The next morning, Fiona wakes up and sings to a bird, and ends up killing it with her high note so she can take its eggs to cook.

I know this is another "Haha Disney" moment, but this shos a lot about Fiona's character. It shows how she is very resourceful, and uses any alnd all of her skills to benefit her, even if it is used abnormally.
I know this is another “Haha Disney” moment, but this shows a lot about Fiona’s character. It shows how she is very resourceful, and uses any and all of her skills to benefit her, even if it is used abnormally.

After they eat, they continue on their journey, and both show that they have bad manners. Shrek says that she is not what he expects and she responds saying you should not judge people before you get to know them; one of the main messages of the movie. Robin Hood and his men take her so they can screw her, but she soon whoops their asses.

They do address how she can do this, but it is not really realistic as to how. Maybe her parents taught her before they shipped her off to that tower.
They do address how she can do this, but it is not really realistic as to how. Maybe her parents taught her before they shipped her off to that tower.

They send Donkey off, so they can spend time with one another and do a bunch of weird and gross things together that make them fall in love. The trio are almost at Duloch and it is sunrise, so she quickly locks herself up in the windmill for the night. Donkey hears weird stuff and goes in that windmill to find out her spell.

I have to say, I think she looks better as an ogre than a human.
I have to say, I think she looks better as an ogre than a human.

She explains to Donkey about her spell and about why she needs to be married off. Shrek approaches the tower to give her flowers and hears the part that she is saying she is disgusted and ugly, but thought that she was talking about him. She makes Donkey promise not to tell Shrek as she will tell him the next morning.

When she is about to do so the next morning, he blows her off and brought Faarquad to them to get her. They are both mad at one another and as she accepts in anger and leaves with Faarquad, he snaps at Donkey.

This is a very tense but good scene.
This is a very tense but good scene.

Both Shrek and Fiona are miserable, which is shown during the song “Hallelujah”. Donkey shows up saying half of the swamp is his, since he helped rescue Fiona. Shrek tells him he heard his conversation with Fiona the previous night and Donkey says she was talking about someone else, and Shrek apologizes to him, which he accepts. They decide to crash the wedding via Dragon.

1

The vows were said and they were about to kiss when Shrek barges in and confesses his love for her, which Faarquad is disgusted by. The sun starts to set, causing Fiona to turn into an ogre.

1

Faarquad is disgusted by her new appearance, so he orders her to be imprisoned and Shrek killed (since he is a king now), but he whistles for Dragon, who quickly eats the new King.

That is a harsh death.
That is a harsh death.

Shrek and Fiona get married there and they kiss, which causes her to become a permanent ogre. They have another ceremony at the swamp with all the fairy tale creatures there, and they run off in their carriage to their honeymoon, while the rest of them have a party, thus “I Believe”.

For 3 years, and another 3, and another 3.
For 3 years, and another 3, and another 3.

Characters

Shrek is such an atypical protagonist for animated films. He is not happy-go-lucky, good-looking, feels sorry for himself, has a goal right at the beginning, and is an anti-hero and negative, which is usually found in the antgonists.
Shrek is such an atypical protagonist for animated films. He is not happy-go-lucky, good-looking, feels sorry for himself, has a goal right at the beginning, and is an anti-hero and negative, which is usually found in the antagonists. They do not rub in his grouchiness and negative traits to the point that he is unlikable, and that is pretty surprising; he is very likable and complex in his emotions and feelings. He does not have much of a back story, but we know more about him that the protagonists in The Road to El Dorado.
Princess Fiona is an interesting case. She has all the traits aroun
Princess Fiona is an interesting case. She has all the traits of a typical fairy-tale princess, and she has planned to an exaggerated level, which is pretty funny. She is insecure of herself and is pretty bad-ass as she taught herself to defend herself. She has a bigger back story then Shrek does and her princess-like mannerisms is slowly tossed to the side as the movie goes on.
Donkey is a happy-go-lucky, annoying, talkative, and sensitive donkey; the typical Eddie Murphy character.
Donkey is a happy-go-lucky, annoying, talkative, and sensitive donkey; the typical Eddie Murphy character. He was being sold by an old lady fr being a talking donkey and then bumped into Shrek. He grew quickly attached and while he serves some purpose in the story, he is mostly comic relief. Even though he is known to be funny, I don’t think he is that funny.
Lord Farquaad is one of those comedic villains instead of those threatening and bad-ass villains.
Lord Farquaad is one of those comedic villains instead of those threatening and bad-ass villains. He wants to marry a princess only to become a king, and he is kind of horny (which is kind of disturbing to watch: especially in one scene). He does get in the way of Shrek and Fiona’s relationship, so we root against him at a point.

Animation

I found some stuff on the animation that was mentioned above, and the others were way too confusing. They used a lot of the techniques they used in Antz since both were in production at the same time for a while. Like I said about the animation in that movie, the animation in Shrek is aged, a lot. You could tell that there was still tiny kinks, but it is not that noticeable. They did not have the good animation Pixar did at the time. The CGI is not Chicken Little bad, or bad at all. It is nice, but the character designs are not that creative.

Music

220px-Shrek_Soundtrack

The soundtrack did well on the Billboard 200; it reached #28. The soundtrack has a bunch of pop songs and pop covers, with some music composed and written by Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell that is fairy-tale like. Katzenberg wanted the ending to be changed  to “go out with a big laugh” with the song “I’m a Believer”, which Eddie Murphy covered. So, they added a bunch of pop music and fairy-tale like scores which I do not really understand. The music is nice, but which way do you want to go? The pop music is why the soundtrack is so successful, so who am I to judge.

Reception at Release

This film was a MAJOR hit when it was released. On May 18th 2001, it topped the box office (the first for DreamWorks Animation), and closed in December 6th, 2001 with grossing $267,665,011 domestically, and $216,744,207 overseas, for a worldwide total of $484,409,218. It is the 4th highest grossing film of 2001, only behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Monster’s Inc. This film got massive critical acclaim, with the critics liking it for its adult humour, satire to fairy-tales, good characters and a nice story. This film got many awards. It won the Academy Award fr Best Animated Feature (which was created thanks to Chicken Run), beating Monsters Inc…… It’s good but it ain’t that good. Anyhow, it also won 8 Annies. It was nominated for another 12 Annies and 6 BAFTAs. This film showed DreamWorks that CGI and more pop-culture references is the way to go. This was their very first huge hit, and because Katzenberg is a money-grubbing whore, he created 3 more sequels, squeezing every thing of the franchise.

Reception Today  

Unlike what I have said for the previous reviews, this film is not only a DreamWorks classic, but an animated classic. You see, a DreamWorks classic is any film that is a part of the franchise. This film is known for putting DreamWorks on the map and beating Disney (Atlantis: The Lost Empire was its competition). It is seen as a huge film and a must to children. It started a franchise which was ruined by the last two sequels. It’s reputation is big and I have nothing else to say about it. You’ve already watched it. The Shrek characters are at every Universal Parks available, and a Broadway musical started in 2008 that is still running today.

Final Score

Story = 8.5/10

Characters = 9.5/10

Music = 7/10

Animation = 7/10

=32/40=  80% 

Next Time……

Review:
Review: August 21st, 2013
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19 thoughts on “DreamWorks Review: Shrek

    1. Thank you for your support and interest. I absolutely understand your point of view, and I was shocked with some of the adult content in this movie. I think that is why it won Best Animated Film over Monster’s Inc in 2002.

  1. I don’t like the movie. I have a very basic problem with it: It pretends to subvert the classic formula, but in truth, it copies it. The lovable underdog finds true love with a smart mounded princess. That’s a mix of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast in reverse. That in this case Fiona doesn’t change back is NOT a powerful message, because they basically turn her visually into a perfect match for Shreck. And the humour is mostly very, very hateful and not appropriate for kids at all, even though it is pretty childish and in your face most of the time.

    1. I had a feeling that you would not like Shrek. I do agree that I does not really change animated films much and it is not that strong of a satire film. I never thought of it being a mix of BatB and Aladdin but it does make sense now.

      I think that was Fiona’s entire character arc though. When she was her fairytale self, she was looked down upon by the writing, Shrek, and Donkey so it seems like she changed for him. I am sure you agree with me that Monsters Inc should have won Best Animated Film instead of this movie. Thanks for commenting.

      1. Oh yes, I soooooo agree with you! Even if I would consider Shrek a good parody, a good parody can only work if it stands on the shoulders of other (in this case better) movies. Monsters Inc. stands on its own feet.

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