Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shrek Forever After: 2-Disc Combo Pack Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Dec. 7th, 2010
Disc Size: 40.7 GB
Film Size: 22.8 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A
The Video
Shrek Forever After’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. I had high expectations for the video presentation and final product does not disappoint. Animated films almost always impress on Blu-ray and ‘Shrek Forever After’ is no different.

Technically, ‘Shrek Forever After’ is the most impressive looking of all the Shrek films. With time technology has improved and the improvements and changes are definitely clear. Detail benefits nicely from the high-def presentation; we get an incredible sense of texture and clarity that will wow viewers of all ages.

Colors are rich and vibrant throughout; blacks are perfect and free of any crushing. The film will release on Blu-ray 3D for consumer purchase in 2011 (although available now if you purchase a Samsung 3D television or glasses bundle), but the pop found on this 2D presentation is very impressive.

‘Shrek Forever After’ is one of those films that have to be seen in high-definition. Everything about the presentation shines in high-def, there are more than a few moments where I found myself in awe (you know, the awes you had when you first experienced a Blu-ray release).

I had not even the slightest issue with the presentation. This is definitely one of the best looking films on Blu-ray to date, with detail and clarity that compares to the best of Pixar productions. ‘Shrek Forever After’ will make anyone a high-def believer. 10/10.

The Audio
An English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track is the lossless option included. French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are included, as well as an English Audio Description track. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD included on this release was a nice surprise, especially since the 2D Blu-ray release of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ from Dreamworks only included a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track. The 3D Blu-ray release of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ includes a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track as do all the Shrek films in both the 2D and 3D releases (3D exclusively with Samsung 3D glasses).

The film was released in theaters with 7.1 surround sound which was quite the audio experience. 7.1 generally features some fantastic surround use moments, going in my expectations were high, particularly since it is an animated film and they can place effects with even more ease.

The 7.1 mix included is truly fantastic, there are so many active moments that really impress. Everything is well placed and very fitting, I was immersed into the experience the entire time. Clarity was perfect and everything was robust.

‘Shrek Forever After’ is one of the most impressive audio mixes this year. Everything was impressive audio-wise, there is really nothing bad I could say about it. This track is an example of a 7.1 mix done right. 10/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):

The Animators’ Corner (PiP)
A picture-in-picture commentary track is included which is also available in audio-only form. This video commentary allows us to see the filmmakers’ watch the film, mixed with sketches and interviews from the film.

Shrek’s Interactive Journey: IV (Images)
Click on a location on the map to see artwork that helped inspire the creation of Shrek’s world.
  • Crone’s Nest Carriage Park
  • Shrek’s Swamp
  • Ogre Camp
  • Dragon’s Keep
  • Village
  • Rumpel’s Palace
  • Candy Apple
  • Far Far Away
  • Fiona’s Tent
BD-Live (Internet Connection Required)
Stream holiday clips from Shrek and Madagascar. Also listen to songs from the Dreamworks Animation Jukebox.

Spotlight on Shrek (13:46) (HD)
This feature puts spotlight on Shrek and Mike Myers and the progression throughout the films.

Secrets of Shrek Forever After (3:58) (HD)
This feature shares some of the ‘secrets’ from the film, which discusses the voice talent (Some which you may not have recognized) as well as pointing out tributes to the other Shrek films placed in this final film.

Deleted Scenes (5:44) (HD)
Three deleted scenes are included and include introductions by Director Mike Mitchell.

Filmmakers’ Commentary
By Director Mike Mitchell, Head of Story Walt Dohrn and Producers Gina Shay and Teresa Cheng. Optional English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are included for the commentary.

Conversation with the Cast (9:19) (HD)
The cast has a group discussion on working on the Shrek films for the past 10 years; some newcomers also join the conversation.

The Tech of Shrek Forever After (7:33) (HD)
This feature goes behind-the-scenes of production with the crew as they show how the technology has changed since the first Shrek film.

Shrek the Musical (HD)
From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek the Musical (8:13)
“Who I’d Be” (3:57)

“Darling I Do” Music Video (4:01) (HD)
By Landon Pigg and Lucy Schwartz.

Shrek’s Yule Log (30:18) (HD)
This high-def video presentation turns your TV screen into a fireplace visual which plays for 30 minutes, characters from the film occasionally pop up to keep things interesting.

Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-Tacular (5:11) (HD)
This bonus Christmas short is presented in high-definition and includes optional sing-along lyrics.

12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book (2:18) (HD)
This is a high-def pop-up story which runs just a little over 2 minutes.

Donkey’s Decoration Scramble (Game)
Donkey wants to throw a stylin’ and inspirin’ Christmas Party, but his ornaments are all scrambled up! It’s going to take more than all the King’s men to put these pieces together again. Use your remote to select the pieces you think correctly repaid each decoration.

Cookin’ With Cookie (4:54) (HD)
Cookie shares some of his favorite recipes, including baked chimichangas, ogre orange slices and more.

Previews (HD)
See previews for ‘Megamind’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda 2.’ Also see trailers for ‘Shrek the Musical’ and Shrek video games.

Disc 2 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film.

The extras included on this release are very enjoyable; I especially loved the video commentary track included. Donkey’s Christmas short (which is advertised as a DVD 2-pack) is included here as well and everything is included in high-definition. I wish more features were included for adults, but the kids will enjoy a few of the extras included. 8.5/10.

The Movie
‘Shrek Forever After’ is the fourth and last film in the very popular Shrek series. I remember Shrek in theaters a couple of times in 2001 and here we are now almost ten years later and the Shrek films are just as popular.

I have always enjoyed ‘Shrek’ and still do today, the humor at times is too childish throughout the series, but there is a touching story and memorable characters to be found. ‘Shrek 2’ was a fantastic follow-up story which introduced us to a few new faces that stayed for the remaining outings. I have to admit, I really didn’t like ‘Shrek the Third.’ The story just felt very rushed and almost like direct to video material.

Going into ‘Shrek Forever After’ my expectations were quite low, especially since it follows ‘Shrek the Third.’ Fortunately, I was very surprised by the fourth film, which manages to give the series the strong ending and comeback it deserved.‘Shrek Forever After’ starts off where the third film left off. Shrek is married to Fiona, they have three children together and they are living their happily ever after, well not exactly. Shrek has become tired of the same routine each day, constantly being woken up by the kids and the attention pattern required in raising them.

Shrek is basically having a mid-life crisis which goes from bad to worse at his kids’ first birthday party. He goes to seemingly good Rumpelstiltskin who tricks Shrek into believing things will be all better once he signs a contract with him.

The story is by no means a smart film, but it remembers how to properly mix humor and an actually good story. I think ‘Shrek the Third’ was a disaster in comparison to the other films, but thankfully ‘Shrek Forever After’ does not follow in that aspect.

‘Shrek Forever After’ makes for a great family film and can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. I love the new characters added into the film, even those with minor roles such as ‘Cookie.’ ‘Shrek Forever After’ is definitely one of the best animated films this year, which while not as incredible as ‘Toy Story 3’ or ‘How To Train Your Dragon,’ it brings plenty of humor and a heartwarming story. 8.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
‘Shrek Forever After’ is a great ending to a very enjoyable series. The Blu-ray release is top notch, with a dazzling video presentation and incredible audio mix. The extras are great, but I wish more adult-targeted extras were included, the kids should enjoy them though. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Highly Recommended’ to all.

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