A smelly green ogre returns to home theater screens to celebrate his first film and entertain a new generation of fans in Shrek: Anniversary Edition (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated PG, $19.99, 93 minutes).
This animated blockbuster from 2001 gave rise to a mighty pop-culture franchise of films, video games and even a theme-park ride featuring hilarious characters plucked from a child’s bedtime stories.
Specifically, the tale finds the evil Lord Farquaad attempting to relocate all of the fairytale creatures from his lands of Duloc and woo a princess named Fiona. The grumpy Shrek gets caught in the middle of the mess and must help his new pals and save a damsel-in-distress from a fire-breathing dragon and overbearing suitor.
Along his journey, the ogre meets up with many legends such as the three blind mice, seven dwarfs, Big Bad Wolf, the Pied Piper, three bears, three little pigs, Pinocchio, gnomes, Merry Men and some fairy godmothers
A top-notch voiceover cast brought the characters to hilarious life, starring Mike Meyers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as his buddy the talking Donkey (yes, remember Mr. Murphy), Cameron Diaz as Fiona and John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad.
The full screen (1.78:1-aspect ratio) digital transfer highlights some gorgeous, cutting-edge animation and character model design.
Viewers will admire details such as our hero’s gassy and bubbly personality let loose in a nearby bathing hole, the accumulating cookie crumbs in a frightening torture scene featuring an unfortunate Gingerbread Man, the hair bristles on Lord Farquaad’s 5 o’clock shadow, the globules of spewing lava from a molten moat, and the pink lipstick on the ferocious female dragon, just to name a few eye-popping moments.
The equally potent 7.1 Dolby TrueHD sound mix allows the appreciation of some slick alternative pop-music tunes such as “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett, and “All Star” and “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth.
Overall, the Academy Award-winning “Shrek” is as wildly entertaining for children as it is for adults.
A generous supply of extras, culled from the previous 2010 release, as well as the coveted digital download code (to watch the movie forever on mobile devices and computers) makes the package worthy for purchase for those who do not yet own a copy in their library.
Let’s start with the Animators’ Corner that offers a picture-in-picture presentation in the lower-right corner of the movie. It pops up and displays storyboard sketches of near every scenes, conceptual art and interviews with the actors (including Mr. Meyers and Mr. Murphy), digital artists and key production personnel.
It’s a welcomed as well as an information-packed addition reminding me of the days when this type of bonus content was often standard for Blu-ray releases.
The next extra worth listening to is an optional commentary track with directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and producer Aron Warner.
They all hum the opening theme of the film to set the tone for the fun discussions to follow. All dive deep into the story and visuals and never bore as they enthusiastically talk nearly over all of the action.
For budding artists, I recommend perusing through “Shrek’s Interactive Journey,” which allows them to click on six map locations to look at screens of concept artwork.
Rounding out the extras, viewers get 4 minutes on the 30 fairy-tale legends seen in the film, an 11-minute tribute to the amazing Donkey (with plenty of words from Mr. Murphy), three music videos and the “Dreamworks Animation Video Juke Box.”
It contains snippets of popular tunes from “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Over the Hedge,” “Kung Fu Panda” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Bee Movie.”
Finally, another insert in the package offers a code to stream four animated shorts — “A Tale of Two Friends: The Art of The Quest,” “Far Far Away Idol,” “The Ghost of Lord Farquaad” and “Puss in Boots: The Three Diablios” — from the “Shrek” universe. It’s a limited-time viewing offer and is browser-based only.
It’s also a very lame way to watch the content and should have been tied to the cloud-based Ultraviolet initiative that allows owners to permanently add movies to their digital collection.