FILM REVIEW: SHREK RETOLD 

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The rise in popularity of the Shrek franchise has reached new heights. Shrekfest, a yearly celebration of the films now takes place and appears to get bigger every time. Only last year’s was different. A Crowdfunding campaign to help recreate the entire first film with over 200 film makers, (mostly comprised of animators) was afoot. Devised by festival creator Grand Duffrin, this was no mean feat. After all, Shrek is love…Shrek is life… 

Fan made reworks of cinema are nothing new, but Be Kind, Rewind with its “Sweded films” brought the premise to a newer, larger audience back in the late 2000s. More recent animated fan collabs include the reimagining of the The Dover Boys, a classic Looney Tunes short, with numbers animators. This feels like the appetiser before Shrek Retold, having a vitality in its variety.

As for recognisable artists there were a few I spotted. Christine W. Chandler (known better as the infamous Chris Chan) has an extended, hand drawn section leading up to Shrek tackling Farquaad’s men. Uncle Joe gets a stint leading up to Shrek getting the arrow removed from his behind in Joe’s typically queasy, CGI mess of a fever dream. The familiar Australian artist Michael Cusack has a minuscule cameo when Shrek and Donkey cross the bridge to retrieve Princess Fiona, barely enough to process on the screen. Anthony Fantano has a bash in one scene and Romanian animator Andrei Terbea carries out a tiny snippet of the concluding wedding scene. 

The now famous music from the film also gets reimagined to great effect. Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star’ becomes a sincere folk number opening the film, in the now mega memed moment when Shrek storms out of his porter potty. ‘I’m a believer’ gets an 80s twist in a funky cover in an end to the film that’s hard to resist. David Liebe Hart certainly gave a unique rendition of Leonard Cohen’s eternal song “Hallelujah”, with bizarre puppets and an all round uneasy vibe throughout. If they get the green light for Shrek 2 Retold, I’d certainly be up for an ensemble rendition of I Need A Hero.

Patience might be required for this Shrek, although you are rewarded with some wonderfully crafted animations, even if they are fleeting. Some live action segments don’t always hit the mark and a vlogging section was trying to be cleverer than it really was. A tonal shift in styles causes vast processing fatigue for the run time, a sort of optical whiplash for the viewer. It still remains faithful to the themes of the original story, tackling conventions and how to make your own destiny. It’s perhaps one of the finest things on YouTube. Though with its viral success and potent meme credentials, don’t expect it to be at your nearest multiplex anytime soon.      

This is one for the curious, lovers of Shrek, fans of animation or those who just like weird online material.  

Absurdly engrossing, brimming with twisted, artistic flair.

★★★★☆

Watch Shrek Retold here.

Photo Credit: Mashable


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