[Picture of projector]

Laramie Movie Scope: Shrek 2

Shrek 2 a rare quality sequel

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

May 30, 2004 -- “Shrek 2” is that rare sequel that is as good as the original. It is well-written, funny, touching, has great characters, and the animation is even better this time around. Most sequels are crap, so it is very surprising, almost historic in fact, to see a good one, especially one based on original material.

Most of the original characters are back (the dragon is a notable exception) and one major new character has been added, Puss In Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas). A new villain has also been added, an evil fairy godmother (voiced by Jennifer Saunders). A minor villain is Prince Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett). The plot involves a scheme to break up the marriage of Shrek and Fiona (voiced by Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz, respectively). Also appearing are Fiona's mother and father, the king and queen. The voice of the king is provided by veteran comic star John Cleese. The voice of the queen is provided by veteran singer/actress Julie Andrews. Of course the donkey is in the thick of things (voiced by Eddie Murphy). As in the first film, there are plenty of good sight gags and movie and fairy tale in-jokes. The message of the film is uplifting without being heavy-handed. It is all about inner beauty versus the seduction of make-overs, and to be true to yourself. The “Kingdom of Far Away” where most of the story takes place, is very much like Hollywood, which gives rise to a lot of sly movie industry jokes.

The animation is even more lifelike (or fairy tale-like) this time around due to advances in computer animation. Skin and hair detailing is more intricate and lifelike, complete with skin blemishes. This Dreamworks production is as good as anything being done these days, including the Pixar stuff. The visual imagination shown in the film is stunning. It is a fully-realized alternate reality. The soundtrack is also very strong, with such songs as David Bowie's “Changes,” the energetic “Funkytown,” and “Holding Out For A Hero” from the film “Footloose.”

The characters are very charming, and just as strong as they were in the first film. The new character of Puss In Boots really steals the show, however. He is a great combination of feline agility and cunning, with a hefty helping of Latino romantic bravado. He is the best cat character I have seen since the black cat character in “Red Dwarf.” Dog people may not like him, but cat people will definitely love this dashing character. Most cat characters in films are weak, sneaky, duplicitous, deadly, cowardly creatures. This Puss In Boots character is is both brave and noble, traits seldom seen in cinematic felines. This feline-friendly film has definitely clawed its way to the upper echelon of 2004 films. It rates a B+.

By the way, I saw this film at the Star Cinema in Stayton, Oregon, where I used to watch movies as a kid. The theater had been closed for a time recently, but has been reopened by very competent, innovative local owners Jeff and Robin Mexico. This great old theater (built in 1949) has been upgraded with comfortable seats and a modern surround sound system. A prize drawing is held after every show. The staff is also very courteous. I highly recommend the place.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2004 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)