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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Shrek: Special Edition (2001)

Shrek: Special Edition (2001)

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Released 19-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-HBO First Look: The Making Of Shrek
Trailer-Sneak Peek:Spirit-Stallion Of The Cimmaron;Theatrical Trailr
Biographies-Cast & Crew
DVD-ROM Extras-ReVoice Studio; Learn To Draw Shrek; Gingerbread Hangman
DVD-ROM Extras-Soup Slam; Fairy Tale Lanes; Bugs and Slugs; Charming Dragon
DVD-ROM Extras-Coloring Pages;Color A Scene;Ogre Masks;Pin Tail On Donkey
DVD-ROM Extras-Fire Donkey; Shrek Pinball
Featurette-Shrek In The Swamp Karaoke Dance Party; Technical "Goofs"
Game-Mirror, Mirror On The Wall; Shrektacular Trivia; Xbox Hints
Production Notes-Production Notes; Gallery-Progression Reel (9)
Featurette-Favorite Scenes (15); The Tech Of Shrek; Dubbing
Music Video-Best Years Of Our Lives-Baha Men
Featurette-The Making Of The Baha Men Video
Music Video-I'm A Believer-Smashmouth
Game-Rescue The Princess;Char Morph;Dress Up The Gingerbread Man
Audio Commentary
Multiple Angles-Storyboard Pitch Of Deleted Scenes (3x2)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 86:23 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:12)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Andrew Adamson
Vicky Jenson

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Mike Myers
Eddie Murphy
Cameron Diaz
John Lithgow
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Harry Gregson-Williams
John Powell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, the Karaoke Dance Party plays after the credits.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Shrek is not just another in the long line of CGI animated children's films that try to include a little "something" for the adults as well. It is not the saccharine story that has that extra bit of interest to keep the mums and dads amused while little Johnny and little Sally are kept quiet for an hour and a half. In short, it is most definitely not made by Pixar via Disney. While the Pixar stable are easily able to engage and entertain an older audience, the movies are fairly and squarely aimed at children. Shrek on the other hand, is not. While children have certainly been kept in mind during production, much of the dialogue, the pop-culture references, and even the soundtrack will be beyond them. The result is a film that "older" audiences do not have to be embarrassed about attending - no longer do they need to find a kid to drag along as an excuse.

    At first glance, Shrek does not present itself as anything more than a slightly strange blend of different fairy-tales all combined into the one. Shrek (famously voiced in a Scottish accent by Mike Myers), an ogre, has his peaceful swamp life interrupted when the local lordling, Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), evicts all the fairy-tale creatures from their current abodes and throws them onto Shrek's land. Being the recluse that he is, Shrek sets off with a talking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) who has declared himself Shrek's new best friend, to ask Farquaad to move all the fairy-tale creatures off his land. Before Farquaad will give Shrek his swamp back, he sets a quest that Shrek must complete - rescue the princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a castle guarded by a fire-breathing dragon and deliver her back to him so they can be married and he can become King in truth. And so Shrek sets off, still with Donkey in tow, to rescue the princess and get his land back. Along the way, as well as battling the dragon, Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona encounter a number of fairy-tale characters (including an hilarious French-styled Robin Hood), and Shrek discovers - much to his own horror - that he likes Fiona more than he would care to admit.

    What makes Shrek so special, and so different, is that while it uses the advantages of an animated world to the fullest extent (there is no way a live-action production could feature the fantasy locations used in this film), it plays very much like a high-camp action-adventure movie filmed live-action. The result is that while it is most certainly an animated feature, and never could be anything else, it is more open and engaging to those who think that animation is only for children.

    An added enjoyment in the world of Shrek is that the film serves very much as one long insult to Disney. This works because, despite how revered Disney is, at one stage or another everyone has become just a little annoyed by exactly how nice Disney films are. Almost every convention existing in the generations of Disney animated films is taken and turned on its head (although it is for this reason that the success of the more traditional "values" packed Monsters, Inc. was all the more sweeter for Disney). This less-than-friendly stance has been attributed to Dreamworks (the studio behind Shrek) co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg's less-than-friendly relationship with Disney (they fired him then allegedly refused to pay him what he was owed). What truth there is in that is probably only known to Katzenberg himself, but as this project was his from inception, it is certainly fair to suggest that he had some influence on the tone.

    Shrek is another genre-defining film. Toy Story began the trend - it was a film that parents actually enjoyed taking their kids to. Shrek is a film that anyone can go to and enjoy, but that parents can easily take their kids along to - the tables have turned. This is the second time I have looked at Shrek on DVD, and it is a film that bears repeated viewings well, albeit not as much as some. The largely parody-based humour is still funny, and there are still many laugh-out-loud moments, but the very campy nature of the story (that thing that the children are actually paying attention to) does tend to drag the film at times - and in a film that runs for less than 80 minutes before the credits roll, that is saying something. Shrek will always be a stand-out of the early CGI-animated films, but if it will still be as loved in sixty years time as some of the now sixty-year-old films it makes fun of remains to be seen..

See our interview with Andrew Adamson, the co-director of Shrek.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    As this is a direct-from-the-source-files digital transfer, this is not so much a new transfer than a new encoding to add the DTS track and other extras. However, as the original release is nearly a year old, it is a good opportunity to take a look at the transfer again. The first noticeable thing is that now the lustre of a fully-digital transfer has been overcome, there are actually a few problems with this transfer. They are neither major nor annoying, and the transfer is still nothing short of stunning, but they do exist. Additionally, a note here is that this two-disc set contains both 1.78:1 and 4:3 (open matte + pan & scan) transfers - the important one (the widescreen transfer of course!) is located on disc 2 of the set - disc one contains the squarer version.

    This disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. This is not the original aspect ratio, nor is it the theatrical aspect ratio. In theatres, Shrek was shown at 1.85:1, while it was actually produced at 1.66:1. This transfer, therefore, is slightly cropped at top and bottom from the source files.

    Coming from the memory banks of a computer, this transfer is incredibly sharp. There is no film grain present at all to reduce the resolution, and so every single item on screen is perfectly visible in the most incredible amount of detail. There are many examples - such as at 9:30, 16:10, 22:55, and so on - when the transfer in fact looks hyper-real being so detailed that the image seems to be three dimensional in nature. Shadow detail is also perfect - the filmmakers are at total liberty to show exactly as much or as little as they desire. Being a totally digital transfer, there is obviously no low-level noise.

    Colours are also spot-on. There is no fading, all colours leaping off the screen with the same vivid detail that was originally conceived by the artist that created them. This film paints with such a rich colour palette that looking at live-action movies again is somewhat disappointing.

    There are no compression artefacts at all, nor are there any film artefacts (again, the benefits of staying completely away from actual film are demonstrated). The only problem with this transfer is the aliasing. Although it is almost all minor, it is not at all uncommon. The first time through, the rest of the transfer is so stunning that it can easily be missed (I know - I did not notice it when I looked at this film last year), but it is there. Probably the worst instance is at 24:05 on the rope, but there are many, many times when small detail on the screen is broken by aliasing. The armour of the knights (especially their helmets) and other small lines are the principal cause. The level does reduce significantly once Shrek and Donkey head away on their quest (as there is no more armour around), but it is not banished completely.

    The subtitles are very accurate, being almost word-for-word, are easy to read and are well paced. They are also rendered in a font that is more fluent and rounded than many, being all the more pleasing to read.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change occurring at 51:11 during Chapter 11 (the same place as on the previous transfer, and the same place on the 4:3 version). The change is rather obvious, but does not detract from the movie.

See our interview with Mark Atkinson about the nitty-gritty details of how this title was transferred to DVD in such stunning fashion.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is a very good audio transfer, and although it could never live up to the quality of the video transfer, it is more than sufficient to get the job done.

    There are three audio tracks present for this transfer, being the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps) and DTS 5.1 (a half-bitrate soundtrack), as well as an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (at 192 Kbps). As a side note, the 4:3 transfer on disc one features only the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, further relegating it to "kiddies" use.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, being perfectly integrated into the soundtrack.

    Audio sync is more of a problem. The Dolby Digital track is not too bad - any issues with it can be attributed to the difficulty of matching animated lips to sound. The DTS track on the other hand has more significant problems. There are a number of instances (such as the sequence from 17:38 to 17:45, and many other one-line instances) where the lip movements are not well matched to the dialogue. The difference is not huge, and for an animated movie, it would normally pass without notice, but the fact that the Dolby Digital has fewer issues in this regard points to a minor problem with the DTS track.

    The soundtrack for Shrek is a combination of contemporary music and an orchestral score. The score is credited to Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell and is very immersive and emotive, suiting the movie very well. The contemporary music gives a more direct and visceral link to the world of Shrek through which older viewers will feel more connected to the movie, and younger viewers will simply enjoy.

    This is a relatively active surround soundtrack, presenting good use of the rear channels to carry score, music, and ambient effects. There are only a few instances of directional sound effects, but they are well placed, and used to good effect.

    The subwoofer is also used extremely well, both to back up the score and for the many deeper sound effects within the film itself. There is less bass here than in many other movies of this genre, but the more reserved style suites the movie well.

    The DTS vs. Dolby Digital battle is essentially even, with the slight advantage going to the Dolby Digital in this case. There is no difference at all in the aural stakes, leaving only the slight sync issues to mar the DTS and give the Dolby Digital the upper hand.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Many of the extras presented for this new 2-disc set are present on the original 1-disc set. As such, the extras description is divided into two sections - Disc 1 and Disc 2 - and each section is further divided into two subsections - Returning Extras and New Extras.


    The menus are animated, themed around the movie, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The menu on disc 1 is not 16x9 enhanced, while the menu on disc 2 is 16x9 enhanced.

Disc 1

    This first disc is the more child-oriented of the two, containing the 4:3 transfer, and extras aimed at the younger demographic.

Returning Extras

Cast and Crew Bios
    Returning from the original release, the cast and crew bios are very extensive, and the number of crew for whom biographies have been produced is somewhat scary. Additionally, the cast bios link to the character interviews (also returning from the previous disc) for their character.
Featurette - Shrek In The Swamp Karaoke Dance Party (2:45)
    This is effectively an animated short, and it features the characters from the film performing various "karaoke" numbers - very funny, and well worth a look. This will play automatically at the conclusion of the credits of the main feature, or is available separately from the special features menu. Presented at 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced (yes...even though the movie on this disc is 1.33:1 non-16x9), and featuring Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This feature also appears on disc 2.
Production Notes
    A few pages of details about the idea behind Shrek and where the story originated.
Game: Shrektacular Trivia
    A selection of various questions about the movie. Correct/incorrect responses are snippets taken from the movie. More fun than the mirror, although it would be nice if it counted the number of right and wrong answers.
DVD-ROM - Shrek's ReVoice Studio
    The DVD-ROM content of this release is really more attuned to the children than the adults. This extra was included on the original release and is still one of the more interesting extras to be included on a DVD. It is an application that allows you to record dialogue for your favourite character in certain scenes. The software then does its best to sync your dialogue to the animation. While younger children will love this, it does not hold much interest for the more "grown-up" among us. An additional note to make is that this game requires the InterActual software DVD player to be installed - while this is understandable given the nature of the application, it is nevertheless annoying.

New Extras

Featurette - HBO First Look: The Making Of Shrek (24:33)
    This is a bit more interesting than the typical HBO fare, and it looks at the entire process of creating Shrek from the recording of the voices through all the stages of animation. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.
Sneak Peak (2:03)
    This is the theatrical trailer for the recent Dreamworks animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. It is presented at 2.35:1, is 16x9 enhanced (on a disc of otherwise non-enhanced material), and features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
Game: Mirror Mirror On The Wall
    Not so much a game, as a "press enter to have the mirror give variations on yes or no". In other words, the idea is to sit there, ask the mirror a question (e.g. "Am I The Most Handsome Man In The Land?"), and have it destroy all your hopes (in response to example question: "Hahahahaha...Not a chance!"). The answers are amusing, and there seems to be quite a number of them, but this one is really only for the kids.
Shrek Fun Facts
    Accessible by selecting the Gingerbread Man's gumdrop buttons on the special features menu (but watch out - he'll complain!). Each time, a new fun fact is presented. They are chosen at random, and only one is presented at a time before being returned to the special features menu where the buttons can be selected and a new fact viewed. There appears to be a large collection of facts.
    This disc contains 12 DVD-ROM games in addition to the ReVoice Studio. These games are all shockwave based, but do not require the InterActual player. The games are as follows:
Dreamworks Kids
    This section contains more extras (some repeated from the special features page), these being "for the kids".
Game Swamp
    A subsection of Dreamworks Kids, the Game Swamp contains a collection of games playable through the DVD player. The games are as follows:
Favourite Scenes
    As the name suggests this is simply a categorised list (categories are: action, laugh out loud, gross out, isn't that romantic, and weird animal incidents) of scenes from the movie that people may want to watch separated from the whole and out of context. Certainly one for the kids more than the adults. All snippets (both in this section and in the other games where movie snippets are included) are presented at 1.33:1, are not 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
Shrek's Music Room
    This section contains two music videos and one music video "making-of". Their inclusion in this section and not the main special features pages is somewhat of a mystery.
    Music Video: Baha Men - Best Years Of Our Lives (3:08)
    Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this is a high production quality video of a song innocuous enough that the kids will enjoy it while the parents can at least tolerate it.
    The Making of the Baha Men Video (1:48)
    Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this "making-of" is simply behind the scenes footage inter-cut with the snippets of the video. Not particularly interesting.
    Music Video: Smash Mouth - I'm A Believer
    Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this is the fun video for Smash Mouth's cover of The Monkeys I'm A Believer. A good pop song and a good video.

Disc 2

    This disc is the more "grown-up" oriented disc, containing not only the widescreen transfer and DTS audio track, but the audio commentary, and the more technical extras.

Returning Extras

Audio Commentary - Aron Warner (Producer), Vicky Jenson and Andrew Adamson (Directors)
    This is the same commentary track that exists on the 1-disc version of Shrek (note that my review of the 1-disc version incorrectly states that there are two producers and one director, when it is actually one producer and two directors). It is a very interesting commentary covering a lot of information about the animation and the use of the voice actors. The commentary highlights much of the human emotion behind the animation of the various characters. Very worthy of a listen.
Featurette - The Tech Of Shrek (22:09)
    This extra is a more technical look behind the scenes than the HBO featurette on disc 1. It is very interesting, and very much worth watching. Unfortunately, the same audio sync issues that plagued this documentary on the original 1-disc release are still present and accounted for. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.
Cast and Crew Bios
    These are the same extensive cast and crew bios included on the first disc.
Production Notes
    These are the same production notes included on the first disc.
International Dubbing (2:03)
    A look into the voices behind the characters around the world. This is quite interesting, explaining aspects of the selection process for the voice actors. Presented in both 1.33:1 and 1.66:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.
Featurette - Shrek In The Swamp Karaoke Dance Party (2:45)
    Content-wise, this is the same as on disc 1, however on this disc it is accessed by selecting the "note" icon above the main menu. As with the original single disc release, and the 4:3 version of the movie on disc 1, it will also play automatically at the conclusion of the film (after the end credits).

New Extras

Storyboard Pitch of Deleted Scenes
    This section contains three storyboard "pitches" which is basically the artist walking the directors, producers, etc. through the scene as they envisage it. They have all the storyboards pinned up on a wall, and as they point to each one, they do voices and essentially act out the scene. It is a very interesting look at the way scenes get their start, and is well worth watching. All scenes have two angles - one of the storyboards, and a wider one of the artist themselves. They are presented at 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.
X-Box Game Playing Hints
    This is a few static pages with "hints" on what to do in certain situations in the Shrek X-Box game.
Technical Goofs (2:51)
    This is a short reel of footage that for one reason or another ended up with the characters being deformed, or drawn incorrectly, or different parts of their bodies moving independently. It is funny, but worth the watch more for the short snippets of Mike Myers voicing Shrek with his normal accent. The best place to hear this is from 2:05 to 2:10.
Progression Reel
    This section features a series of still illustrations from the earliest concepts to the final designs for the major characters in Shrek. Those shown are: Shrek, Fiona, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Beast Fiona, Donkey, Farquaad, Dragon, Dragon's Castle, Shrek's house, and DuLoc (okay, so the last three aren't characters).
Theatrical Trailer (2:00)
    Presented at 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, this trailer is of good quality (although it has been taken from a film source, and as such displays some grain), and is very effective at advertising the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    After initially being left out in the cold with a poorer version of Shrek, this new release catches up completely, and is identical to the 2-disc edition available in Region 1.


    Shrek is a brilliant animated movie that is not just "for the whole family", but seems to be more for the older people with kids kept in mind. While it may not go down as a Snow White, it will nonetheless be considered another step in the process of trying to find a movie that can at once hold the same interest for children as for adults.

    The video quality is astounding, even taking some light aliasing into account. There has never been a DVD that looked better, and all this transfer does is make you salivate for an increase in the number of all-digital transfers - bring them on!

    The audio quality is superb, with only a few sync problems in the DTS soundtrack marring an otherwise technically brilliant disc.

    The extras are even more extensive this time, and it can be said that Dreamworks has targeted them correctly. There are hours of games, videos, and entertainment here for the kids (and that is the area in which this new release picks up most compared to the initial single-disc release), but there is also much in the way of behind the scenes information, and commentaries for the more serious film fan. This is something that a certain other "children's" film of late failed to do, so it is nice to see the older demographic (as in the ones who actually pay for these discs) being considered.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Monday, October 28, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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