Shrek: 20th Anniversary Edition: A Timeless Animated Classic for All Ages (4K/Blu-ray)
It's hard to believe that it's already been 20 years since the original "Shrek" was unleashed. I remember loving it from the first time I saw it in theaters as a teen, and only appreciating it more and more over the course of multiple subsequent viewings. It just felt so different from other animated films that had come and gone up to that point, not only in its remarkable style, but also in its irreverent sense of humor that successfully targeted both kids and adults. With its 20th anniversary happening this year, Dreamworks is celebrating by giving the film a special 4K/Blu-ray release, so lets take a nostalgic look back at what has made this such a special and enduring classic.
"Shrek" tells the story of the titular ogre (Voice of Mike Myers), who lives a mostly quiet life in his swamp (that is, when he's not being attacked by a mob of villagers). One day, he happens to rescue a talking Donkey (Voice of Eddie Murphy), who is extremely grateful and decides to stick with Shrek, even though the latter clearly prefers his life of solitude. Shrek's world is shaken even further when a large group of fairy tale creatures appear in his swamp, having been sent there by Lord Farquaad (Voice of John Lithgow), a small man who dreams of being a king and wants to "clean up" his kingdom. Shrek tries to get Farquaad to move the creatures elsewhere and ends up making a deal to rescue a princess, Fiona (Voice of Cameron Diaz), whom Farquaad intends to marry in order to become king. And so, Shrek sets off with Donkey on a wild adventure in hopes of ultimately reclaiming his home.
If you had to pick out what elements of "Shrek" have made it such a remarkable and timeless classic, one would inevitably have to start with the screenplay (adapted by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, and Roger S.H. Schulman from the book by William Steig). The story within is wildly entertaining, wickedly humorous, and endlessly quotable, and that's all on top of fully-realized characters that you can connect to and come to care about. It's hardly a surprise that it earned a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars (only the second animated film to do so after "Toy Story," and the only non-Disney/Pixar film ever to get one), while actually winning the same category at the BAFTA Awards (where it also earned a nod for Best Film).
The other main area that would have to be mentioned is the absolute perfection in the vocal cast. While it's interesting to note that Nicolas Cage was offered the role, and Chris Farley was originally hired (even recording most of the part before his death), it's hard to imagine anyone doing as stellar a job as the titular ogre than Mike Myers. The comic chops, the depth of feeling, and the ability to hit all the right notes of the character come so naturally from him. Then, of course, you have the talents of Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow rounding out the ensemble, giving you a cast of not only marvelously written characters, but unforgettably performed ones as well.
One could go on and on about how it excels in other areas as well, including its stunning CG animation (which was still a little new at the time, but looks fantastic) and the aforementioned split-level of humor that both kids and adults can appreciate, but really it's the story and characters that have made "Shrek" an animated classic that stands in the upper echelons of its genre. Disney/Pixar may get most of the credit for great animated films of the last few decades, but "Shrek" is easily just as good, if not better, than most of their work.
Aside from the recognition for its screenplay, it was also chosen to compete at Cannes for the Palme d'Or, got added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, became the first recipient of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, and was the first animated film to be nominated for the Producers Guild of America's top honor. The film is truly a timeless classic, one that anyone, of any age, can pick up at any time, and thoroughly enjoy, whether it be for the first time or the hundredth. Revisiting the film for its 20th anniversary only reiterated this fact, and the fact that it will go on entertaining many generations yet to come.
The 20th Anniversary Edition of "Shrek" comes to 4K/Blu-ray in UHD HDR10 and 1080p High Definition transfers, respectively, of excellent quality. The film's animation has always looks fantastic, but 20 years later, it still looks as stunning as it did upon its first release. Likewise, the DTS-X (4K) and 7.1 Dolby True HD (Blu-ray) audio tracks are flawless, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music in outstanding quality. Overall, this edition of the animated classic is simply exceptional in both departments.
Filmmakers' Commentary: An informative commentary with directors Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson and producer Aron Warner.
The Animators' Corner: An intriguing featurette that runs during the film, featuring interviews with the animators and tons of behind the scenes footage.
Shrek's Interactive Journey: A collection of concept art for various locations in the film.
Spotlight on Donkey (12 Minutes): A featurette focusing entirely on the character of Donkey.
Secrets of Shrek (4 Minutes): A brief featurette that takes a look at the film's various references.
Deleted Scenes (8 Minutes): A collection of three deleted sequences, with storyboards and pitches.
Plus a bonus Blu-ray disc featuring ten shorts and five episodes from "The Adventures of Puss in Boots" TV series, totaling over four hours.
20 years later, "Shrek" remains a timeless animated classic thanks to its exceptional, highly-entertaining story, which comes packed with a multitude of amusing moments, and marvelous, fleshed-out characters that have you engaged every step of the way. When you add its talented vocal cast and beautiful animation, it's not hard to see why it's been a favorite of the genre for the last two decades, and why it will continue to endure for many more after.
Available on 4K/Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
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