Long before the days of digital 3D televisions there existed a simple yet effective means of creating the illusion of objects bursting from the confides of the screen. Tracing its roots back to 1853, this technique used two color layers superimposed but offset with the main subject centered while the foreground and background shifted laterally in opposite directions. When viewed with red & blue tinted glasses these images produced a stereoscopic 3D effect (meaning your brain was tricked into viewing the picture in 3D).
Well those wizards at DreamWorks were still playing around with this concept as recently as 2003 when they created a little sequel to their now-legendary mascot to serve as a continuation of the tale between the first Shrek film and Shrek 2.
When the first film concluded, newlyweds Shrek & Fiona were singing & dancing late into the night with Donkey and all the fairytale creatures. However before the honeymoon has even begun, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) gets ambushed by Lord Farquaad's henchman, Thelonius. A dizzying and hilarious chase ensures with Shrek (Mike Myers) and Donkey (Eddie Murphy) hot on the trail. More action and adventure, and comedy ensues that picks up right where Shrek left off.
Coming in at a runtime of only 16-minutes, the experience is breathtaking both in terms of visuals and pacing. Part of this is due to the fact that the film is in fact a 3D attraction that opened in Universal Orlando back in 2003 (called Shrek 4D). It became known as Shrek 3D once DreamWorks decided to release it on DVD here in the US.
Bottom line: It works. It’s brisk (as a 16-minute movie should be) but pretty darn funny. Arguably it contains the most movie spoofs of any of the Shrek films (picking on the Blues Brothers, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense and Star Wars Episode IV to mention a few). Heck even MGM’s famous interactive ride Star Tours isn’t spared!
The 3D effects are surprisingly stunning and yes the DVD contains 4-pairs of 3D glasses. Additionally, the option of watching it in 2D exists on the menu (which makes it look just like the rest of the series) for those who don’t wish to experiment with the whole “tricking your brain into viewing a flat image in 3D” thing.
The film is solid in most ever regard except for one: The fact that it comes in at a mere 16 minute runtime makes it very hard to justify at full feature film price. Couple this to some odd marketing on behalf of DreamWorks (for a short period is was available as a bundle with the original Shrek DVD and for whatever reason, it was omitted entirely from the recent “The Whole Story” boxset release as well) and it becomes difficult to find this one/ hard to justify the cost if you do.
However as a fun little romp that extends the story of the first film and sets up the second in style, this one’s pretty tight. Perhaps a redo using modern digital 3D technology is in order.
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