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Animation and Anime

SHREK Review

I know many people that love SHREK totally and completely. Some that even make TOY STORY 2 comparisons.

I really like the film. I think it’s going to make money like ya won’t believe. I think it is absolutely gorgeous, and that much of the CGI is actually more solid than most of the CGI in THE MUMMY RETURNS, when in SHREK they’re supposed to be a bit cartoony and in MUMMY RETURNS it is supposed to be photorealistic…

Somehow though I felt this film BEING CLEVER… As scenes would unfold I felt the, "Oh it’d be clever if this happened" and there it was… The narrative didn’t seem to flow effortlessly… shot to shot to shot…. Instead, the film felt like an accumulation of quite funny scenes and "SERIOUS PARTS", but for me I never watched the film as a cohesive complete narrative!

Now… It may be that my expectations were so high that they were unreasonable to be reached… Don’t get me wrong, the film is damned entertaining… Well worth my time, and I’ll definitely see it again, this time tics are on me.

I can tell you this though… I’ve seen SHREK and I’ve seen FINAL FANTASY…. Of the two, Cannes has the wrong one.

SHREK is a more successful work of entertainment.

The original cut of FINAL FANTASY I saw was a foreign art film from Japan. However, the cut of FINAL FANTASY that I saw is being edited and changed for American audiences… that might make it more commercial…. But hey, that’s like test screening GHOST IN THE SHELL and cutting out the parts that your cousin Vern and his sister/wife didn’t understand.

SHREK though… Must focus here… Haven’t much time before I leave for Cannes…

SHREK starts off filled with lowest common denominator humor… Fart and ass jokes…. Disgusting snickers and foul chuckles. After an initial barrage of this stuff, the film quickly raises the story and humor bar several notches. Suddenly the humor is more complex and practically funny…. Actually really quite funny.

Eddie Murphy’s Donkey enters the film like tinkerbelle and we’re suddenly off on the differences attract plotline. Here Eddie is far funnier and effective than his stint in MULAN, and Mike Myers is INVISIBLE as SHREK… fine fine voice work. Somehow that accent is just dead on perfect.

In comparing the main character face animation in this and what’s coming in FINAL FANTASY… The character animation in the face of the characters in SHREK provides a greater and more effective range of emotions….. BUT FINAL FANTASY isn’t as broad as this…. SHREK, though a bazillion pixels is still in its heart a cartoon…. A fable….

FINAL FANTASY is/was more about internalized emotions and passive faces and emotional reaction from the characters… As a result of the directed minimalism in the character performances… the characters seem to come across a bit… Japanese, rather than regular American actors… To get what I mean, watch THE ICE STORM…. You’ll see American characters being directed with a very eastern feel to them…. That’s where FINAL FANTASY is…

They are of course radically different films… There are moments in SHREK that just made me lose my cool laughing… Hell it even got riotous laughter from Father Geek, who usually goes 5 years between smiles.

The biggest parallel in film to this movie is SCREAM though. Ok… major genre difference… agreed… BUT wait… I’ll attempt to justify this.

This is a fairy tale like SCREAM was a horror film. Both rewrite the stale genre constrictions to the benefit of their mutual studio’s coffers… The film is self-aware of fairy tales and how they turn out… the characters know they are in a fairy tale…. And knowing that, they know they are not destined for what usually happens in fairy tales… but because ultimately it is a fairy tale it must obey the rules of a fairy tale even if it is trying to rewrite them, because if it didn’t follow the rules it ultimately wouldn’t be a fairy tale.

Ok… now the award for run-on sentence of the month goes to tired Harry person!!!!

Seriously though, SHREK is a major piece of entertainment. It unabashedly sets out to make you laugh and be happy and smile. Which is a wonderful pure purpose, but you don’t walk away with deep thoughts… or any human truths…

Though my fear is that the success of SHREK will breed an entire stock of self-aware fairy tales that wink and nudge and nudge and wink till we all grit our teeth and scream bloody murder. This one is fine… This one is entertaining… But one is enough… If you can see a trend, it is over… SHREK could be a trend… which means those that follow it, will no longer be cool.

Additional kudos go to whoever in digital cinematography decided to create that soft focus lighting effect… I love that! Really really beautiful. John Lithgow is a treasure. The CHICKEN RUN composers should score all DREAMWORKS ANIMATED COMEDIES!!!

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