- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2004

Dreamworks’ animated adaptation of William Steig’s ogre Shrek has maintained pop culture icon status since his introduction to movie audiences in 2001. Now he’s back in a fun sequel.

His fame can be partly attributed to an avalanche of McFarlane Toys action figures, video games, a cutting edge digital video release of the film, and — from the greatest tribute of all to any cartoon or film character — a theme park attraction found at Universal Studios (https://themeparks.universalstudios.com) in both Orlando, Fla. and Hollywood, Calif.

Dubbed Shrek 4-D, the immersive experience that has been available since the middle of last year gives fans of the friendly green goliath a chance to enjoy his exploits in a multiple sensory overload.

Victims — oops, I mean park-goers — are first sent into Lord Farquaad’s torture chamber where they’re entertained by an irritable human guide and the Magical Mirror while watching the suffering of the Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio and Gingerbread Man.

They also learn that the pint-sized ruler of Duloc has returned to his kingdom in the form of a ghastly green apparition and is looking to snatch his former bride, Princess Fiona, from her new love, Shrek, just as they are about to celebrate their honeymoon.

As the pre-show concludes, guests are ushered into a theater with seats that move and are covertly equipped with tubes that deliver air bursts and water sprays. Once seated, and securely wearing OgreVision glasses, they enjoy a 12-minute smorgasbord of stimulation.

The awesome film that follows offers all of the actors’ voices from the original film (Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow) and does a dazzling job of bringing a creepy cemetery, flowing waterfall and stone dragon to eye-popping life.

For those unable to visit the theme park, the 4-D effort has been pared down to 3-D, and has just become available on digital video as part of a Shrek, DVD two-pack ($16.95). Dreamworks Home Entertainment offers the Universal Studios Florida film in both 2-D and 3-D formats, with four pairs of cardboard glasses thrown in to enjoy the effects. Fans can then watch the Oscar-winning animated film, put on a separate disk in the pack.

For those without a DVD-enabled computer or home entertainment center, Dark Horse Comics has put out three issues of a Shrek comic book (priced at $2.99 each), which just so happens to devote the first issue to covering the Universal Studios Florida film.

The second issue finds Shrek and his donkey taking on the roles of Hansel and Gretel when they encounter a nasty witch. And issue No. 3 has the gassy ogre battling wits and might with the troll who caused a flood in his humble abode.

All three are written by Groo the Wanderer scribe (aka Mark Evanier) with faithful re-creations of the characters coming from illustrator Ramon Bachs.

Homage to the ogre

So “Shrek 2” has arrived in movie theaters? Surely junior will appreciate some of the following items to replay fond memories about a smelly behemoth and his bride:

• Wise Crackin’ Donkey (Hasbro, $29.99, two AA batteries included). Children can now hear their favorite animated animal speak when spoken to through an 18-inches long (from snout to tail) interactive plush doll. Owners can speak to the donkey and depending on what’s said, it will either react as a buddy or offer a smart alecky response. I’m sure scientists came up with better uses for voice-activated technology. But until I can come up with a few ideas to send their way, I’ll just ask a pile of fake fur to tell me a knock-knock joke.

• Shrek Operation (Hasbro, $16.99, requires two AA batteries). The classic board game which has an unlimited number of players vying for cash by successfully performing surgery on an ailment-filled fellow gets an update in time for the “Shrek 2” release. This version still features an annoying buzzer and red light-up nose which goes off when tweezers touch metal instead of an organ. But it also has youngsters trying to extricate 12 Funatomy items such as toe jam, Pixie bites, ear wax, humongous fungus and heartburn from a cardboard cavity of their favorite green ogre.

Shrek Chess (USAopoly, $34.99). A centuries-old challenge is translated in the lands of Duloc through a very affordable chess set. The objective of capturing a king stays the same but players get to use 32 hand-painted character representatives of traditional pieces that include the Three Little Pigs as pawns, Lord Farquaad as a Bishop, the Fairy Godmother as a Rook, Princess Fiona as a queen and Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas in the new “Shrek 2”) as a knight.

Puss in Boots (Hasbro, $7.99). Despite parents hesitancy in buying a product that proclaims on its package “I stink,” their offspring will still enjoy 6-inch action figures honoring “Shrek 2.” Although not as detailed as the McFarlane’s Toys line from 2001, Hasbro’s figures still succeed through strange extra stuff and durability. In the case of the 4-inch, swashbuckling feline assassin, that means a way to shoot a hairball at opponents by cramming a projectile down his throat. It comes with a soft plastic cape, hat, rapier, three blind mice, and a sour-puss Gingerbread man who smells like the spicy baked treat .

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, email jszad [email protected] or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, washington D.C., 20002.

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