After The Cat in the Hat, which can only be described as a complete disaster, Mike Meyers returns to form with Shrek 2, the sequel to the wildly popular 2001 film that finally allowed Dreamworks to throw a sizable punch at its arch rival, Disney. Luckily for Dreamworks, and unfortunately for Disney, Shrek 2 is almost as entertaining as the original, with plenty of jokes that will appeal to people of all ages.
Everyone knows that the smartest children's films are the ones where adults understand more of the jokes; Shrek 2 is that movie. From jabs at recent films like Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings and countless others to hundreds of inside jokes about fairy tales, Shrek 2 has everything that made the first one so popular. The great thing about Shrek - and what is great about Shrek 2 - was that while supporting pretty good special effects and hilarious characters, it relied on witty jokes and dialogue to entertain the audience, instead of the goofy nonsense that Disney has been churning out for years. There just seems to be something about these computer-animated films that bring out the best in writers; far more seem to be employed at Dreamworks.
Shrek 2 also does a good job of not trying to be grander than its predecessor; it is a nice, simple sequel that continues the characters' stories without going overboard. Here, Shrek and his new bride, Princess Fiona, head to her home where her parents are expecting her to arrive with Prince Charming, the handsomest prince in the land that has the power to lift the curse that has been placed upon her. Of course, her parents aren't all too pleased to find that not only is Fiona married to an ogre, but she has become one herself! To make matters worse, Prince Charming's mother is the Fairy Godmother, who will stop at nothing, including the use of magic, to give her son the kingdom he has always wanted. Throw in Puss-in-Boots for good measure, and we've got ourselves one heck of a fairy tale.
The voice cast is terrific. While Cameron Diaz isn't given the chance to be very funny, Meyers is hilarious in the lead. Many people have grown tired of his Scottish accent in recent years (used in The Cat in the Hat and the Austin Powers movies), but Shrek's voice is just slightly different and, besides, he isn't a new character. Once again, Murphy does an absolutely terrific job as the annoying Donkey; he is to Donkey what Robin Williams was to the Genie. Antonio Banderas is also great as Puss-in-Boots; the hairball scene is absolutely hilarious.
One thing that is drastically improved are the special effects, which, to say the least, are spectacular. The original's graphics were good, but, compared to Pixar's work at the time, not nearly as sensational. Now, with several more years of experience under their belt, the designers have created an absolutely splendid world, rich with texture and motion.
Shrek 2 is a hilarious sequel that should not be missed by anyone. Little kids were laughing along with college students and their parents; there are jokes for all ages. This will undoubtedly be one of the best movies of the summer.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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