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Animated antics, characters soar in beloved sequel

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Most students are familiar with the typical fairytale. A princess is taken and locked in a tower guarded by a ferocious dragon. It is the duty of the honorable, perfect rescuer, Prince Charming, to slay the dragon, rescue the princess and win her heart. The original “Shrek” took a slightly different route, with the princess being rescued by an ogre, and his sidekick falling in love with the dragon. Those twists from the ordinary were a big reason for the original film’s charm and success, both at the box office and with critics.Well, “Shrek 2” begins with Prince Charming finally arriving at the tower to rescue the fair princess. Needless to say, he is a little irked to find her missing, having already been rescued by someone else. And then the scene is set for the rest of the movie.While a lot of sequels are content to star the original characters in an uninspired plot, “Shrek 2” continues in the vein of the first by consistently being original and fresh for the viewer. The characters include everything from an assassin cat to a 100-foot Gingerbread Man named Mongo. All of the original characters return, so fans of the original will not be disappointed. Since the first movie established the main characters, and the roles that they play, it was the job of the sequel to place the characters into new situations that would shake up their roles. This is done very well as all the returning characters are given a chance to shine in humorous situations that keep “Shrek 2” fresh and distinct from the original.This keeps the movie from getting stale, and falling into the typically bad sequel realm. However, this movie keeps the same formula as the first; meaning if you didn’t like that one, this one has little to offer.The picture quality on this DVD is excellent and is one of the finest transfers ever released on DVD. With the entire film generated completely by computers, the film is of the highest clarity. Typical hard points to animate, such as water and hair, are done with ease within “Shrek 2.” The movie is beautiful, and could be seen for that reason alone. The sound is also very good, with all of the audio coming through clearly. However, the sound doesn’t play evenly on all the speakers. There appears to be an emphasis on the front speakers. But that should only bother the harshest of DVD critics, not the average Notre Dame student.The special features mirror those found on the original’s DVD, with commentaries, behind-the-scenes documentaries and specials. The commentaries are a little flat, as they consist of people talking about the technical aspects of the film. None of the stars participated in the commentaries, although they did make appearances for some of the interviews. In response to the first film’s inclusion of a karaoke snippet starring all of the characters from the movie, “Shrek 2” has “Far, Far Away Idol.” A parody of a certain popular television show and starring the notorious Simon Cowell, this one is pretty humorous and gives the audience a chance to listen to the characters within the movie sing their favorite songs.”Shrek 2″ is a great movie, filled with parodies and humor. No fairy tale is spared, nor any piece of pop culture. It would almost be impossible to watch and not enjoy it.