Shrek 2 Review
Shrek 2 is a 2004 DreamWorks animated fantasy comedy film with the voice cast consisting of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Cameron Diaz. It is a sequel to 2001’s ‘Shrek’ and it is the highest-grossing DreamWorks film ever. It is in my opinion the rare instance of a sequel being literally on par with the original, neither worse nor better.
Fiona and Shrek go to Fiona’s parents to celebrate their marriage while Prince Charming tries to find a way to marry Fiona with the help of her mother, the Fairy Godmother. Storywise, this film is more entertaining and more fun than its predecessor but not as well polished or as emotional. I liked its beginning with the meeting of the parents, that was all very well done and the inclusion of the new characters is great as they are all memorable and a nice addition to the franchise. However, the final act or so ruins the movie that could have been quite good but ended up being just solid. That is because the last parts of Shrek 2 are filled with endless musical numbers with modern and annoying music that do not serve any purpose in the story and it just all becomes way too over-the-top and frustrating.
The characters are quite good once again. Shrek is really good this time around and he is a solid protagonist. Fiona was unfortunately not present here as before and gave a backseat to the other characters which is unfortunate. But Puss in Boots is an excellent comic relief and a really nice addition to the team, ingeniously imagined. But it is Donkey who surprisingly steals the show when comedy is concerned with at times hilarious results. He really was the highlight in my opinion, the way he was animated and acted along with his funny lines. The parents are okay and the twist is rather interesting. Fairy Godmother is an interesting experiment that worked in earlier scenes, but later on just became too much of a parody and too over-the-top. Prince Charming is also annoying, but it is again interesting how they make fun of these characters and presenting them in the worst and most opposite fashion possible. As for the fairytale creatures, Pinocchio, Big Bad Wolf and the new addition Doris the Ugly Stepsister all have their moments, but the others are forgettable with Gingerbread Man being really annoying.
The acting is superb across the board. Eddie Murphy is once again hilarious and all of the old actors are great with the new ones also being properly cast with Antonio Banderas being a great fit. As for the humor, this is where the film left a polarizing effect on me. On the one hand, some of the topical humor is well imagined and solid and some characters are hilarious with Puss in Boots and Donkey being the highlights. Also, this is a much funnier film than the first ‘Shrek’ in my opinion as there were a couple of times when I genuinely laughed a lot. However, on the other hand, the pop culture references are once again obnoxious with the soundtrack being the worst, but more on that later. But the thing that surprised me the most and rubbed me the wrong way is their parodying of Disney films and characters. Now, in my review of the original, I stated that exactly the Disney parody is what the movie does best, but here they go way too far with it with sometimes too adult in-jokes and references. And I am not talking as a hurt Disney fan as I am a big fan, but it just genuinely was too much and wasn’t particularly funny. For example, what they did with Pinocchio is just jaw-dropping. Yes, it can be funny to some, but that scene is just done for shock value in my opinion and is just way too mature. It is interesting how this sequel goes much further into mature territory and thus creating a somewhat weird tone and feel to it.
The animation is once again splendid. It is also improved here with the passage of time of course. But the character design is excellent with all of the new characters being very memorable in their depictions. Also, I liked its colorful nature and the attention to detail is once again great. But it just looks more polished and overall better this time around with the backgrounds being especially improved. The animation is a strong aspect here.
As I mentioned before, apart from the Disney parody, the much bigger problems Shrek 2 has are the soundtrack and the running time. The music is just dreadful, they literally picked every popular tune from a couple of past decades and played it out with a bunch of characters. It is again too modern and creates a jarring feel as it does not fit in this world at all. But the big musical number at the end and that whole sequence ruined the movie for me as it was way prolonged and annoying. Speaking of prolonged, the movie drags a lot at certain moments and the running time, already incredibly short thanks to a simplistic story, is just more overblown with stupid musical numbers and bad pacing. It is too short and too simplistic.
The directing in Shrek 2 is solid and, as I said before, the acting is superb. The animation is great with some nice scenery as well and it has a nice detailed approach to it. The tone is okay, but needed more emotional stuff. The dialogue is quite solid with some lines being hilarious. And it is somewhat imaginative and overall a well crafted flick. And although predictable, the ending is nice after all with a great message for children. Comparing it with other DreamWorks films, it is again in the middle and I cannot say if ‘Shrek’ or Shrek 2 is better. They are incredibly similar in quality, what one has, the other doesn’t and etc. But that is a great achievement for a sequel to be that good.
Shrek 2 is more entertaining and much funnier than its predecessor with improved animation, a nice addition of new characters who are all memorable and it is overall of the similar quality as the original, but it once again relies too much on pop culture references with the soundtrack being incredibly obnoxious this time around, the running time is too short and the movie sometimes drags, but it is also too mature at times with some moments being done just for the shock value and its parodying of Disney was not pleasant in my opinion.
My Rating – 3.5