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HTF HD-DVD Review: Shrek the Third


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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted November 16 2007 - 04:17 AM

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Shrek the Third (HD-DVD)

Studio: DreamWorks Animation Home Video
Rated: PG (For crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: VC-1
Audio: English, French, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH
Time: 92 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL HD-DVD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date:2007
HD-DVD Release Date: November 13, 2007


DreamWorks Animation really hit on a swell concept several years ago by taking the story of an ogre and his quest for love and throwing in a bunch of modern jokes. The ogre, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) finds love in the form of an ogre-in-hiding Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) with the assistance of his smart-aleck donkey sidekick, suitably named Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy). The first picture poked fun at an array of fairytales finding humor in even the most minor of characters, such as the paranoid Gingerbread Man, while the second continued the tradition introducing the scrappy Puss’n’Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas).

This third picture, Shrek the Third finds our ogre in Far Far Away about to inherit Fiona’s father’s kingdom, or, it could be given to a long lost child, Arthur. Shrek has no taste for the kingdom, so he, Donkey and Puss set off on a quest to find Arthur and drag him back to his new kingdom. Prior to departure, Fiona tells Shrek she is with ogre, leaving the daddy-to-be quivering on the deck of his ship. Once they find the lad at a very modern sounding high school, they discover the nerdy Artie (voiced by Justin Timberlake) has no interest in being king. Shrek won’t have it any other way, so he kidnaps Artie to bring him back. Artie escapes only to find his old teacher, Merlin (voiced by Eric Idle), who uses some magic to send the group back to Far Far Away, in the process causing a little identity mix up for Donkey and Puss.

But the disgruntled Price Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett) has his eye on Far Far Away and he’s willing to use force and the power of musical theater to attain his goal. He also wants Shrek to pay for making his quest so difficult. As the characters all wind up back together, the quest for the throne is riddled with wacky hijinks and mishaps to make young and old alike laugh.

Except, I didn’t, and it really ticks me off. The first two Shrek pictures took ages old stories and gave them new lives infused with modern talk and references. I enjoyed the gingerbread man’s constant worrying over the Muffin Man, Donkey’s wise guy diatribes and Puss’s adorable eyes. I laughed at Myers Scottish brogue coming out of the ogre’s mouth. I applauded the creativity of the writers to meld today’s media references with these old tales. In this third outing, I laughed maybe twice and I was left with the “been there, done that” feeling at the end. Many of the jokes in this one fall flat and the attempt to bring in new characters such as Captain Hook just seem forced. While I’m sure I’m not the target audience for the picture, and I’m sure the little ogres out there will really enjoy the humor, I was able to appreciate the thought that went into the story and jokes of the first two. The overriding themes of parenthood seem to have dulled the sharpness of the humor, much like any family sitcom you watch on TV. Note to the Shrek team: next time, hire Brad Bird to help you out.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Toshiba XA2 player and a Denon 3808CI as a pass through switcher, utilizing the HDMI capabilities of all three units. The Toshiba is outputting a 1080p/24 signal.

The picture is framed at 1.85:1, and it is encoded in VC-1 at 1080p. Since I was less than impressed with the story, it did allow me time to stare at the gorgeous picture. Computer animation is now known for producing some of the finest HD images, and this title is no different. The picture is absolutely pristine and clear with no dirt or noise in it. I noticed no compression artifacts, aliasing or edge enhancement. Color fidelity was excellent showing a wide array of colors in every scene. I was struck by the depth of field with many of the scenes looking 3-D. Black levels are excellent for the few there are as most of the picture is set in the daytime. It amazes me more and more how quick computer animation evolves as we see a new level of realism in colors, movements, set construction and costumes. I kept staring at the clothes on the characters seeing little bits of weaves and richness in the patterns. Faces show blemishes, warts and other “human” imperfections. This is a truly excellent video presentation.


Audio:
Note: The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track was attained by the HDMI connection of the Toshiba to a Denon 3808CI.

Much like the main feature, the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track left me wanting more. While there is nothing wrong with it, it lacks anything more than a very basic sound mix, and the DD+ enhancement really doesn’t seem to add much to the experience either. Regardless, the mix provides a good soundstage with most of the sound coming from the front channels. Voices and effects come through crystal clear as there is no hiss or distortion noted. The surrounds come up during the few action scenes, but otherwise only provide ambience. LFE’s too only engage during the action scenes and almost seem a bit weak.


Bonus Material:
With the advent of HD-DVD, we are faced with several different audio and video codecs being used on each disc. Due to this, I have begun adding the encoding details as part of the explanation of bonus features when applicable and relevant. For this release, the extras are in MPEG2 encoding with Dolby Digital Plus unless otherwise noted.


The Animators Corner: during the feature you can choose this feature and have a small window be open on the bottom of the screen showing the storyboards for each shot.

Shrek’s Guide to Parenthood: Donkey, Gingy, Puss and Pinocchio provide a list of five parenting tips for Shrek and Fiona

Meet the Cast (10:41): the voice actors, writers, producers and directors talk about just how great it is to work on Shrek the Third.

Lost Scenes (25:50 total) (MPEG4-AVC): there are four lost scenes- The Fauxly Grail, Hot Lunch, Cyrano de Artie and Doppelgangers, which can be played separately or together. They can also be accessed during the feature when you see the Shrek head pop up. The “scenes” are the writers pitching the scene to the rest of the team accompanied by the storyboards; they are not completed scenes. I always enjoy seeing how much work initially goes into making an animated film in these initial stages, and the pressure these artists must feel.

Tech of Shrek (9:54) (MPEG4-AVC): the directors and some technologists talk about how much the computer and rendering technology has grown since the first picture. As I noted above, I was very impressed with the computer rendering in this picture, so I was glad to get some information on this here.

Donkey Dance (:31) (MPEG4-AVC): as the title says, Donkey does a dance set to The Safety Dance.

Big Green Goofs (1:55) (MPEG4-AVC): computer rendering gone awry!

In-Movie Menus: this option allows you to choose between several menus themed to a certain character. Once you choose, the movie starts so when you hit the pop-up menu button, you see that character.

DreamWorks Animation Jukebox: this feature allows you to pick songs from several of your favorite DreamWorks animated titles. It then plays the song with accompanying animation from the feature. Six tunes from six pictures.

Theatrical Trailers, not for Shrek the Third but for Bee Movie and Kung Fu Panda.

DWK: choosing this feature accesses Merlin’s Magic Crystal Ball (an interactive gave ala a magic 8 ball), Learn the Donkey Dance (a short where the Donkey shows you how to bust his groovy moves from the earlier video), and How To Be Green (a PSA on recycling and living a green life).


Web Enabled Features: Once you hook up your player to the Internet via the Ethernet port, you can access the following features:

Shrek’s Trivia Track: this track features over 300 behind-the-scenes fun facts from Far Far Away. Once the download is complete, the film begins and these fun facts are overlaid on top of the feature. It’s fairly basic information that has probably been covered on the other docs at some point.

The World of Shrek: this feature gives you the inside scoop on your favorite character by hitting the A button on the remote to turn it on and off. Once you jump to the feature, you see a window with the choices of the lead characters or the supporting characters. Once you choose, you’ll get a biography and fun facts about the character. For Shrek, for example, you get his favorite foods, hobbies, idol, etc.

The Donkey’s Digital Coloring Book: color your favorite Shrek character with digital crayons (COMING SOON)


Conclusions:
While lacking in the story and audio department, this disc has an amazing video presentation. The extras are fairly shallow, catering as much to the little ogres as the big.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted November 17 2007 - 10:48 AM

After reading all of the reviews, I'll be skipping this one as it doesn't seem to hold up compared to the other 2 films. Here's to hoping that the first 2 will make it onto HD DVD soon.
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