When a green ogre named Shrek discovers his swamp has been ‘swamped’ with all sorts of fairytale creatures by the scheming Lord Farquaad, Shrek sets out with a very loud donkey by his side to ‘persuade’ Farquaad to give Shrek his swamp back. Instead, a deal is made. Farquaad, who wants to become the King, sends Shrek to rescue Princess Fiona, who is awaiting her true love in a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. But once they head back with Fiona, it starts to become apparent that not only does Shrek, an ugly ogre, begin to fall in love with the lovely princess, but Fiona is also hiding a huge secret.

For in-depth thoughts on Shrek, please see my review from the Dreamworks 10-Film Collection from last year. 

Video Quality

Shrek comes to 4K UHD Blu-Ray with a dazzling and vibrant 2160p transfer in 1.85:1. First things first, it is important to note that Shrek is a film celebrating its 20th anniversary. Given its age, it is fair to say that it does not have the seamless qualities that we have come to associate with modern animated films. The film is not a clunky mess, but this 4K upgrade is not going to enhance basic digital animation techniques that make the film slightly dated from a visual standpoint. With this fact in mind, we can still report that the animation is given a nice boost in basic textures and details with this new release. You only need to look at the scene in the field of daisies to see more refined textures. Nearly every element you can imagine from clothing to character models and environments is presented with greater clarity than ever before. Daytime scenes are especially pleasing to witness with an unparallelled visual splendor. These elements may not be photorealistic, but they still suit the story quite well. 

Where this disc really shines is in the implementation of the HDR. The colors present in this transfer are practically leaping off the screen with the wide range of hues permeating the frame. Each color is presented with a bit more nuance so that everything appears a touch more natural. This also goes toward increasing the depth of field by a nice margin. Black levels are very strong with no hint of compression artifacts or digital anomalies of the sort. The white highlights are handled with more stability in a way that never fails to impress. There is some very minor aliasing against some harsher gradients, but overall this is a transfer free of major encode issues. This is a stunning 4K UHD Blu-Ray presentation that marks a pleasing if not earth-shattering upgrade from the Blu-Ray. 

Audio Quality

This release boasts an immersive DTS-X Master Audio track that really packs a punch. There is a significant amount of activity in the low-end due to the various music sequences and other kinetic moments. Dialogue comes through clearly without getting overwhelmed by any competing sound effects or score. The music in the film is very effective in stirring up powerful emotions that make the film feel alive. Say what you will about Smash Mouth, but their tracks really pack a punch and get the party started in this mix. Atmospheric effects are deeply immersive and convey a real sense of depth to the locations. The track engages all of the channels with panning effects and environmental sounds that sell a fully fleshed-out world. The top channels are not a constant source of sound, but the extra texture it provides to the story is definitely appreciated. Universal has delivered a crackerjack audio presentation that brings this story to life quite nicely.

Special Features

4K UHD & Blu-Ray

  • Audio Commentary: Directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and Producer Aron Warner provide some interesting insights into the production from taking the film to the Cannes Film Festival to improv used in the film. 
  • The Animators’ Corner: You can choose to watch the film with a picture-in-picture frame in which behind-the-scenes details are explored throughout the film. There are occasional lulls, but it is pretty consistent with interesting information. 
  • Shrek’s Interactive Journey: Explore the inspiration for the various lands in the film with an interactive map featuring exclusive artwork. 
  • Spotlight on Donkey: A twelve-minute look at the character of Donkey from his development to his evolution throughout the series and what Eddie Murphy brings to the role. 
  • The Secrets of Shrek: A four-minute examination of all of the various fairytales they incorporated into the film and the connections to other Dreamworks Animation properties. 
  • Deleted Scenes: An eight-minute look at three deleted scenes introduced by the creative team and showcased through rough storyboards. Scenes include an unused prologue for Fiona, Lord Farquad explaining his plan to Shrke and Fiona getting the group lost. 
  • Shrek, Rattle & Roll: A selection of videos which features the more musical aspects of the film including Shrek In The Swamp Karaoke Dance Party, music videos from Baha Men and Smash Mouth, a selection from Shrek The Musical and a JukeBox of music from various Dreamworks Animation properties. 

 

Bonus Disc

  • Shrek’s Short Films: Three short films are included here in HD that feature some fun with pop hits, a parody of American Idol and more. 
    • Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Party  (2:51)
    • Far Far Away Idol (9:00)
    • Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos (13:06)
  • Shrek’s Halloween Favorites: Four spooky shorts are provided here in HD which were previously exclusive to the Dreamworks Spooky Stories disc. 
    • The Ghost of Lord Farquaad (12:34)
    • Scared Shrekless (25:30)
    • Thriller Night (6:08)
    • The Pig Who Cried Werewolf (6:49)
  • Shrek’s Holiday Favorites: Three HD shorts that will put you in the holiday spirit, one of which is a fireplace loop with fun little surprises that you can throw on during your Christmas gatherings.
    • Shrek the Halls (28:02)
    • Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-tacular (6:39)
    • Shrek’s Yule Log (30:19)
  • The Adventures of Puss In Boots TV Episodes: Five episodes from the Netflix series are included here in HD. 
    • Episode 1: Hidden (23:04)
    • Episode 2: Sphinx (23:04)
    • Episode 3: Brothers (23:04)
    • Episode 4: Duchess (23:04)
    • Episode 5: Adventure (23:02)

 

Final Thoughts

Shrek was a game-changer in the field of animation as it opened up a world of more off-beat storytelling that both kids and adults could enjoy in various ways. The world of Shrek and Donkey and the rest of the colorful cast of characters is one that never fails to bring the laughter time after time. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray that offers a lovely upgrade to the A/V presentation along with a host of new supplemental features that fans will love. If you are a fan of this series, you owe it to yourself to own this film in the best quality possible. Highly Recommended 

Shrek will be available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray and Digital on May 11, 2021. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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