Okay. Let's start with the obvious: Watching "Shrek 3D" in the comfort of your own home ISN'T really the equivalent of getting to see the "Shrek 4D" attraction at the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood and Tokyo. Unless -- of course -- you have friends or relatives who are willing to shake your chair and/or spray mist in your face at appropriate moments as you're watching this DVD.
But -- that said -- "Shrek 3D" is still a lot of fun. A sweet little 16-minute-long movie that basically bridges the gap between the first "Shrek" film and "Shrek II." Revealing what happened to our favorite ogre, Princess Fiona and Donkey after they left the wedding reception.
And I'll say this much about "Shrek 3D" : The folks at Dreamworks really didn't stint when it came to putting together this project for the Universal theme parks. Rather than fobbing this 3D movie off to underlings (so that the A Team could just concentrate on "Shrek 2"), Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted that Dreamworks' top guys actually work on "Shrek 3D." To make sure that "Shrek" 's story would shift seamlessly from the first film to "Shrek 3D" right into "Shrek 2."
This is why you'll find guys like Simon J. Smith -- the Head of Layout on the first "Shrek" feature -- serving as the director of "Shrek 3D." Making sure that the distinct look of Shrek's fractured fairy tale world would stay consistent from the first film right through to the theme park film. And -- to make sure that the characters looked just as we remembered them -- Raman ***, "Shrek" 's supervising animator was brought on board at "Shrek 3D." (And -- as soon as he finished with this theme park movie -- *** began riding herd on these same set of characters again . In his role as Supervising Animator on "Shrek 2.")
The key to this project (at least to Jeffrey Katzenberg's point of view) was consistency. Which was Dreamworks persuaded Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow to all come back and do the necessary voice work for the "Shrek 3D" film. Jeffrey even convinced Harry Gregson-Williams -- the talented composer who did the score for both the first "Shrek" film as well as "Shrek II" -- to do the music for the theme park film.
Why all this attention to detail? Because Katzenberg honestly believes that Shrek is Dreamworks' Mickey Mouse. So -- what with "Shrek III" already penciled in for the Summer of 2006 (And supposedly with a "Shrek IV" due to arrive in theaters several years after that) as well as a "Shrek" musical heading to Broadway sometime over the next few years -- a lot is obviously riding on this character now. Which is why Jeffrey couldn't afford any slip-ups right now. Have some lackluster theme park film undercut any of Shrek's future earnings potential.
Which is why Katzenberg assigned himself the job of producing "Shrek 3D." And -- immediately after taking charge of this project -- Jeffrey then roped in David Lipman, the co-executive producer of the first "Shrek" film, to help this Dreamworks senior exec keep this theme park project on track.
Eventually, Katzenberg assigned Lipman additional duties. Putting David in charge of pulling together a script for "Shrek 3D." This Lipman did with the help of Steve Hickner, who was one of the directors of Dreamworks' first animated feature, "The Prince of Egypt."
Okay. By now, I think you get the idea. Dreamworks didn't just fob "Shrek 3D" off on the folks at Universal Creative. Saying" "Do whatever you'd like with these characters." The crew at Dreamworks Animation / PDI were actually active participants in this theme park project. Making sure that the Shrek you encounter at the Universal theme parks looks, acts and sounds the same as the ogre that movie-goers met in the first film first. And (hopefully) will rush out to their local multiplex to see again when "Shrek II" officially opens tomorrow in theaters nationwide.
Alright. That's enough back-story on the creation of "Shrek 3D." Now let's talk about the film itself.
Like I said earlier: Watching this DVD in your own home, while admittedly fun, isn't quite the same as seeing "Shrek 4D" at one of the Universal theme parks. After all, you miss out on all those great in-theater effects. Plus you don't get to experience this theme park attraction's great pre-show and post-show area.
Particularly in Orlando (Where USF's "Shrek 4D" attraction replaced that theme park's enormous "Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies" facility), Universal Creative and the folks at Dreamworks had the room they needed to tell the "Shrek 4D" story right. The attraction's storyline actually starts out in the queue. Where -- via some cleverly written posters -- we get a quick recap of what happened in the first film. With the most important bit of news being that Lord Farquaad (Who we last saw being eaten by Donkey's dragon lady-friend) has risen from the grave, determined to have his revenge on Shrek and Princess Fiona.
From the outside queue area, we now transition into "Shrek 4D" 's pre-show area. Which is done up to look like a dungeon. In overhead cages, we see that the Three Little Pigs & Pinocchio have been imprisoned. As Farquaad's ghost -- working with the Regent's old dungeonmaster, Thelonius -- tortures them to try get this quartet to reveal the information that he needs. Which is the exact location of those happy honeymooners, Shrek & Fiona.
On an overhead monitor, we see that the Gingerbread Man too is back in the dungeon. But -- before Fraquaad's Ghost & Thelonius can actually get to prying this info out of Gingy -- he runs, runs as fast as he can away. Right straight out of the dungeon. And he urges us to follow his lead.
Unfortunately, we don't listen to the Gingerbread Man. Which is why Farquaad's Ghost -- finally noticing all of us standing there in "Shrek 4D" 's pre-show area -- orders us to enter the dungeon (AKA the show's main theater) for questioning.
So we enter the theater (Which -- sadly -- doesn't continue the queue & pre-show's castle / dungeon motif. It just looks like your standard theme park theater), take our seats ... and this is where the film that you'll see (should you purchase "Shrek 3D") is screened.
Now, what follows is a fairly spoiler filled description of the first half of this Universal theme park attraction. So -- if you don't really want to know what happens during the first portion of "Shrek 3D / 4D" -- now might be a good time to bail out of this story.
Okay. Still with us? Alright, let's continue ...
This 3D movie starts off with a pretty obvious poke at Disney. As a Tinker Bell look-alike flies out from behind the curtain and starts waving her magic wand around over the audience's heads. "Wonderful World of Color" -like fireworks magically erupt as the curtains part. Just then, a frog's pink tongue shoots out -- snagging the sprite. As the giant bull frog swallows Tinker Bell with a satisfied smile, this is your first clue that you're NOT watching a Disney theme park show.
Of course, Tinker Bell refuses to go down without a fight. So -- zooming out of the frog's mouth, even though the fairy is still attached to his tongue -- she now drags the surprised amphibian all over the enchanted forest. Eventually bringing us out onto the road where we encounter Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey.
Now these characters are pretty much as we left them at the end of the first film. With Shrek & Fiona off to begin their honeymoon. With Donkey along for the ride because he's the ogre's "noble steed." Only -- when we meet up with this trio again -- they're not going anywhere fast.
Why for? Because -- as they were making their way to the Honeymoon Hotel -- Shrek somehow made a wrong turn with their enchanted onion coach. And now they're lost.
So -- as "Shrek 3D" officially gets underway -- our favorite ogre is standing in the middle of the road, trying to figure out where he went wrong. He has a map in his hands that lists such fearsome sounding destinations as "The Forbidden Forest," "Death Canyon" and "Dead End Cemetery."
As Shrek continues to look at the map, Donkey tries to noodge him along:
Donkey: Come on, Shrek. Who needs a map when you've got animal instincts? I say we take the 10 to the 305 and then get off at Fairy Tale Falls.
When Shrek refuses to listen to him, Donkey wanders over to the enchanted onion carriage. Where he feeds Princess Fiona weeping.
Donkey: What's wrong, Princess? You shouldn't be this unhappy 'til years into the marriage.
Princess Fiona: What? This is the happiest day of my life.
Donkey: Oh, oh. Let me guess. You're overwhelmed by love.
Princess Fiona: No. I mean yes. I mean. That isn't why..
Donkey: The shrimp platter was bad?
Princess Fiona: No!
Donkey: Wait, Wait. I got it. I got it. You always wanted a puppy. But all you got was toasters.
Princess Fiona: NO! I'm sitting in an onion! This carriage is one big onion.
Donkey: Oh. Why didn't you say so? I'll turn on the air.
Donkey steps on a pedal (or that petal?) on the side of the enchanted onion coach. Its side roll down, exposing the base / interior of the carriage to the open air. Shrek's bride immediately begins to breath easier.
Princess Fiona: Much better.
Donkey: Noble steed at your service.
Shrek -- now consulting a copy of "The Sir Thomas Guide" -- announces that he thinks that he's finally found a shortcut to the Honeymoon Hotel. All they have to do is taking their coach through the Forbidden Forest.
The camera quickly pans to the Forbidden Forest. Which is full of gnarled, evil looking trees. Lightning flashes ominously as vultures wheel overhead.
Donkey: Are you crazy?... That forest could be hexed or voodooed or anything. Uh uh. I ain't going in there.
Shrek: Listen, I'm an ogre. I'm the one who does the scaring. What's there to be scared of?
Donkey: (Gesturing off-camera) That.
The camera turns to catch Lord Farquaad's somewhat loyal henchman, Thelonius, riding up on a dark horse. The horse & rider leap over Shrek, Donkey and the audience before coming to a stop in front of Princess Fiona in the onion coach.
Princess Fiona: Hey, what are you doing?
Thelonius: Sorry, Princess. Honeymoon's over.
Thelonius quickly ties up the Princess. Then -- throwing her on the back of his horse -- Farquaad's henchman takes Fiona off into the Forbidden Forest. Seeing his bride being carried off, Shrek turns to Donkey and says:
Shrek: To the carriage.
The two of them scramble into the coach. Then -- riffing on "The Blues Brothers" signature speech -- Donkey turns to the camera and says:
Donkey: We got a donkey driving a carriage that's made from an onion, it's dark and our horses are wearing sunglasses.
Shrek: Cut to the chase, Donkey. Just cut to the chase.
And that's just what "Shrek 4D" does: Cuts to the chase. While bouncing along in their enchanted onion coach, Shrek and Donkey frantically pursue Fiona & Thelonius. At one point in this chase sequence, the road becomes so bumpy that Donkey actually bounces right out of the coach. Via the magic of 3D, it looks like he's about to fall into the audience's lap. But -- at the last moment -- Shrek grabs Donkey's tail and yanks him back into the coach.
Donkey: (to audience) Wow, this 3D is pretty cool! (To Shrek) I saw into another dimension.
Shrek: Oh, for the love of Pete.
As the chase sequence continues, the Gingerbread Man is just up ahead. Putting the finishing touches on his brand new Gingerbread house. Which involves using a pastry bag to finish writing "Home Sweet Home" on his front door in icing.
But then Gingy hears the hoofbeats of the horses bearing down on his new home. He turns in horror to see Thelonius. Who somehow manages to makes his horse jump over the Gingerbread House with minimal damage to the structure.
On the other hand, Shrek & Donkey take their enchanted onion carriage straight through the Gingerbread House. The collision seems to send a shower of candy corn flying out into the audience. As they emerge on the other side, Gingy cusses them out.
Gingerbread Man: Hey, Shrek! I hope you're insured. That house cost me a lot of dough.
The chase ends suddenly with Shrek & Donkey -- having somehow survived their leap over Death Canyon -- stranded in Dead End Cemetery. As they wander around the fog-filled graveyard, searching for Fiona, they stumble upon Farquaad's tomb. Which depicts the diminutive Regent standing on top of this enormous column as he makes ready to do battle with a ferocious dragon.
Looking up at the statue of Farquaad, Shrek stops to think:
Shrek: I wonder if he's behind all this.
Donkey: Can we get out of here?
Shrek: Sure. Of course. Now you wouldn't happen to have another carriage in your pocket, would ya?
Donkey: Donkeys don't have pockets. But some of us do have wings.
With that, Donkey begins to whistle for his lady love. You know, the female dragon that he wooed & won in the course of the first "Shrek" film? But -- instead -- Donkey's whistling seems to bring the stone dragon on top of Farquaad's tomb to life. As it turns toward Shrek & Donkey and roars, the frightened ass turns to the ogre & says:
Donkey: Uh oh. Wrong dragon.
Shrek: Wrong whistle.
As if things weren't already bad enough, now Farquaad's Ghost appears.
Shrek: What have you done with my wife?
Farquaad: Your wife? Don't you mean your widow?
Donkey: I know I seen you die in the first movie.
Farquaad: You fools! This time, it's your turn to be the entree. (To dragon) Okay, my sweet. Take care of them. Bon appetit!
The stone dragon now steps down off of Farquaad's tomb and begins chasing after Shrek & Donkey. Things look pretty bleak until ...
You don't want me to give away the entire picture, now do you? Well, I know that the folks at Universal Studios as well as Dreamworks certainly wouldn't want me to.
So what happens next? Well -- Given that "Shrek 2" arrives in theaters tomorrow -- you can obviously assume Shrek, Donkey and Fiona survive their ordeal and that this story ends somewhat happily. Except for Lord Farquaad, of course.
But the stuff that I won't get into here (I.E. The mid-air battle with all of its witty "Star Wars" references, Fiona's rescue at Fairy Tale Falls ... which doesn't go quite as well as Shrek had hoped it would, as well as who's waiting for these two when they finally arrive at the Honeymoon Hotel) is just as entertaining as the scenes that came before them. Which do a beautiful job of recapturing the look & the feel of the first "Shrek" film. Not to mention doing a superb job of setting the stage what happens next in the "Shrek" sequel.
Now I won't lie to you, folks. The people who run Universal's theme parks aren't exactly thrilled that "Shrek 3D" is now available for sale. They do feel that -- by choosing to release this film at this particular time -- Dreamworks has really undercut the marketability of Universal's less-than-one-year-old attraction.
But -- at the same time -- the folks at Universal Studios are fairly philosophical. After all, the Orlando studio theme park has its new "Revenge of the Mummy" ride opening this Friday. With Universal Hollywood's version of this attraction due to open a month later. And -- given that this new state-of-the-art attraction was obviously going to become the centerpiece of those theme parks' marketing efforts for the next year or so -- "Shrek 4D" was going to be shunted out of the spotlight anyway ... So why cry over spilled milk?
Besides, Universal is sure to move a ton of these "Shrek 3D" DVDs in the attraction's post-show gift shop. After all, what better way is there to remember an attraction than to bring home your very own copy of the film you just saw. Here's hoping that -- should these "Shrek 3D" DVDs prove to be a popular item in the "Shrek 4D" gift shop -- that Disney follows Universal's lead. I mean, wouldn't be great if we could all finally purchase a copy of "Muppetvision 3D"? To take home with us to commemorate our visits to Disney-MGM or DCA? Paging Chris Curtin -- the Mouse House's main Muppetmeister. If the Walt Disney Company's really serious about trying to make some money of of its recent acquisition of Jim Henson's characters, selling a DVD of "Kermit the Frog Presents Muppetvsion 3D" might be a great way to start ...
Anyway ... As I said at the start of this article: While owning your very own copy of "Shrek 3D" is nice, it really isn't a replacement for getting to see "Shrek 4D" in the theater where it was intended on being seen in. I mean, just to experience all the in-theater physical effects in perfect synchronization with the movie is great fun.
Plus the end gag! Sure, you see Tinker Bell get nailed by that champagne cork at the end of "Shrek 3D." But you don't get to see where this unlucky sprite ends up after that. Audiences exiting "Shrek 4D" in Orlando, Hollywood and Tokyo have been just howling when they see what's become of Peter Pan's pal.
But I'm not going to give that away ...Sorry, folks. But if you want to experience that gag, you're going to have to buy an admission ticket to a Universal theme park.
But if you'd to experience a stripped down version of this attraction (As in: No queue, no pre-show and no post-show shop. Just the "Shrek 3D" film itself), all you really have to do is chase down a copy of this DVD. Which -- according to the folks that I've spoken with at Universal Home Entertainment -- isn't going to be on the market for all that long.
So -- if you'd to bring home a little bit of Universal theme park magic (Not to mention find out what really happened to Shrek, Fiona and Donkey on their way to the Honeymoon Hotel) -- go pick up a copy of "Shrek 3D" today, okay?
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of "Shrek 3D" from Amazon.com by clicking the link to the right.
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is currently selling its "Shrek" / "Shrek 3D" two
pack for 30% off! But -- if you go to that site through JHM -- you
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