Shrek – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Shrek (2001)
Release Date: 2021
Runtime: 90 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format: DTS:X
High Dynamic Range: HDR10
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Amazon Commissions Earned
Release Date: 5/11/21
Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Voice Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassel, Jim Cummings, Chris Miller, Kathleen Freeman, Conrad Vernon
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Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom
“Shrek” was a 2001 CG animated film by DreamWorks Animation. It was the fifth feature film that DreamWorks Animation released. The story was loosely based on a 1990 children’s book called “Shrek!” that was both written & illustrated by William Steig. The screenplay was then adapted by a group of writers including Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, and Rogers R.H. Schulman.
The film was co-directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson. Adamson, who came from a visual effects background, would go on to co-direct “Shrek 2” (2004), as well as direct the films “The Chronicles of Narnia: The, Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005), “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (2008), “Mr. Pip” (2012), and “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” (2012). The other director, Jenson came from an animation background, would go on to direct the films “Shark Tale” (2004) and “Post Grad” (2009), and, as of most recently, she’s set to co-direct the latest DreamWorks Animation film “The Bad Guys” (2022).
The story here takes place in a fairytale world, and the protagonist is an ogre named “Shrek” (Mike Myers) who likes to keep to himself in his cozy and charming little swamp. In fact, Shrek is actually rather fond of his privacy and does his best to keep away from the locals and also keep the locals away from his home. That is, until one day, one “Lord Farquaad” (John Lithgow) who rules the town of Duloc, decides to wage war on all of the fairy tale characters around such as The Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, and The Three Little Pigs. That’s where our protagonist is about to find his new best friend, weird and whether or not he wants him. An old woman is trying to get rid of her talking “Donkey” (Eddie Murphy) but he manages to break free. Donkey ends up in Shrek’s swamp, in fact, the majority of the fairy tale characters eventually do.
Donkey really digs Shrek and wants to live with him in his swamp but suffers a bit of rejection from the bright green ogre who happens to be so very fond of privacy. However, once all the characters show up and he’s informed that Lord Farquaad is up to no good in Duloc, he’s off with Donkey to see what’s up. It’s there he will learn that Lord Farquaad has found a Princess he wants to be rescued. What he doesn’t tell Shrek is that he wants to marry her to keep his kingdom, as he’s not a prince and true royalty. So, he sends our pal Shrek off to do the work and rescue the princess from a dragon. That’s where we will meet the lovely “Princess Fiona” (Cameron Diaz) trapped away in a tower waiting for true love’s kiss and is of course a fan of “sipping Pina Coladas and getting caught out in the rain.” And that sets up the whole story here for this modern animated classic.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Shrek” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is finally presented in the correct original intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That was not the case with the previous (original) 2010 Blu-ray Disc release of the film, which was in an incorrect 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This time around, Universal has cropped the original digitally rendered source material, in turn removing some of the top and bottom, as you’ll see via screenshot comparisons below to achieve that intended aspect ratio. I for one am absolutely fine with this change, as it holds true to what the filmmakers had originally intended. This 4K UHD Blu-ray release features the HDR10 form of high dynamic range.
Now, it is most certainly worth pointing out that this is one of the first CG animated full-length feature films. In fact, this movie is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. So, that being said, you need to realize that this might feel ever-so-slightly dated in comparison to recent CG animated feature films. Yes, I said every-so-slightly and not incredibly or anything of that nature. The folks at Universal have done an excellent job of taking the original digital source materials, upscaling it from 2K, and adding in a high dynamic range pass.
Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-100 (100 gigabytes) disc, 84.75 gigabytes total, and 65.0 gigabytes for the film itself. The movie is running at an average bitrate of around 80 to 90Mbps all throughout and hits 100Mbps every other minute it seems like, and as high as 135.6Mbps I saw this hit as a peak during an action-packed scene. Those specs alone are very impressive.
Moving on. Let’s take a look at the original 2010 Blu-ray Disc release of the film. That release was using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 36.36 gigabytes total, and 27.6 gigabytes for the film itself. So, in comparison, the new 4K UHD Blu-ray is using almost two and a half times the file size for the film itself now. Not too bad at all. “That’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.”
Next, I want to do a visual comparison here between the original Blu-ray and the 4K UHD Blu-ray. Instead of just offering you the still screenshots for both the original 2010 Blu-ray Disc and the new 2021 4K UHD Blu-ray releases, I’ll be [back to] giving you some video slideshow screenshots comparison over on the site’s YouTube channel, as seen below. For those who want the still images, click the text above the video.
Now, looking back at the original 2010 Blu-ray versus the new 2021 4K UHD Blu-ray. This feels like seeing a video game that’s decades-old that has been remastered on a next-generation video game console. That’s one analogy I kept thinking all throughout viewing the film and doing these comparisons. Notice how much more realistic that the shading now appears with an HDR pass, and how much it finally can achieve a truly deep solid black level. It looks very impressive in terms of its visual pop, here in 4K, almost just as much as the fantasy tale itself now with a pass of high dynamic range added. The colors, thanks to that addition of HDR, feel all the more realistic throughout and are able to do some things you never saw them able to do on Blu-ray.
It is certainly enough of a visual improvement to really justice making the upgrade on physical media to 4K UHD Blu-ray for this film, regardless of if it’s a 2K upconversion. I think this honestly is the best the film has ever looked and might ever look. That being said, a film I’ve always considered to be a piece of visual almost reference material has now been upgraded (unconverted) to 4K resolution and I find it to be even more realistic and pleasing to the eyes. I cannot help but give this a near-perfect 4.75 rating for video quality. And, I find the few occasional instances where you feel the movie to show its age to be easy enough to overlook. If you think otherwise, “you’re going the right way for a smacked bottom.”
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“Shrek” makes its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format in DTS:X with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless surround sound core for those unable of decoding the immersive DTS:X mix. It should be noted that the original 2010 Blu-ray, also included with this release, featured a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless surround sound mix. In fact, I have to first admit that the original 5.1 lossless mix found on the original Blu-ray from 2010 is one of my favorite animated surround sound mixes. So, I was a tad excited yet also a bit skeptical about this being put into a DTS:X configuration, with the addition of height channel speakers. It’s important that I start off by stating that upfront, as I’ll come back to that original 5.1 lossless surround sound mix later in the closing part of this section.
I’ll not be focusing on that original 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix, as it’s not included on the 4K UHD Blu-ray, and I will instead, be focusing on the DTS:X sound mix that is.
Things startup here, in DTS:X, using the height channel speakers nicely for the beautiful original score and occasional sound effects. Dialogue is delivered distinct from primarily the center channel speakers unless there’s a pan across the front or rear channels in some instances. The music starts up with the Smash Mouth song “All Star” delivering a hefty amount of bass that you’ll be feeling all around, and most certainly from your subwoofer. That bass hook in the song will leave your room vibrating for a short bit and get things started off with a bang. Even this song has some DJ-type stuff in its mix where you’ll hear it coming out of distinctly the height channel speakers.
There’s a very nice amount of rear channel presence to be found here, used for primarily the sound effects such as yelling (early on). In fact, you’ll hear those yells echo and torches go past you in the rear channels in the very opening of the film and that’s just a sign of that to come. This mix can get very intense, just like the aforementioned surround sound mix. There’s just the right amount of LFE here in Dolby Atmos. There’s a whole lot of scenes all throughout the film that proves to be near “demo material” for an animated film, as was always the case for this, a CG animated classic now two decades in age.
So, it’s safe to say that I found this new DTS:X mix to be downright impressive and even a pleasant upgrade over the previous 7.1 surround mix. This sounds great from start to finish, and all of the music and action are filled with oomph. You’ll find this to get the job done in terms of sound. That being said, Shrek on 4K UHD Blu-ray earns itself a nearly perfect 4.75 rating for audio quality. I do wish they had included that original Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix as an option, in all due honesty. It just felt that it was a tad bit better even without height channels.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
- A Digital Copy of the film is included via a paper insert with redeem code, which is compatible with Movies Anywhere. This means you’ll get the film digitally in 4K on a variety of online video platforms including AppleTV (iTunes), Vudu, FandangoNow, and more. The film redeems as 4K on both iTunes and Vudu with HDR10, however, it does not have the Dolby Atmos sound mix you’ll find here on the 4K disc.
- A Blu-ray Disc of the film is included in this “combo pack” release. This features Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless surround sound.
4K UHD Blu-ray extras are identical to the Blu-ray extras listed below, just housed on the actual 4K disc — with the exception of one feature I’ve noted below.
Blu-ray Disc extras include:
- Blu-ray Exclusives include:
- “The Animators’ Corner” (HD) is a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) feature you can toggle to view along with the film. Once you do, you’ll get insight into what all the animators put into the film while you watch the movie. This feature is NOT at all found on the 4K UHD Blu-ray.
- “Shrek’s Interactive Journey: I” (HD) lets you use a map to go to the locations Shrek’s Swamp, Duloc, Dragon’s Keep, The Windmill, and Sunflower Field. At each location, you’ll get numerous pieces of concept artwork done by the artists who worked on the film. This is just basically an interactive and illustrated gallery you can navigate through, briefly.
- “Spotlight on Donkey” (11 minutes, 38 seconds – HD) gives you a lot of clips of the character throughout the film franchise as well as interviews with Eddie Murphy (Donkey), Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots), Jeffrey Katzenberg (CEO, DreamWorks Animation), Aron Warner (producer), Andrew Adamson (director, Shrek and Shrek 2), Vicky Jenson (director, Shrek), and Mike Mitchell (director, Shrek Forever After), and Ken Bielenberg (visual effects supervisor), Mike Myers (Shrek), Teresa Chang (producer), and Walt Dohrn (Rumplestiltskin).
- “Secrets of Shrek” (3 minutes, 52 seconds – HD) gives you a bit of insight into some facts about the film, such as all the fairy tale references.
- Deleted Scenes (8 minutes, 1 second – SD) features a play all function and a total of three scenes. These feature video introductions by producer Aron Warner and then storyboards of the deleted scenes read by artist David Lowery. It’s nice to have the artist giving us narration to the storyboard sketches and to have the producer describing each deleted scene as well as explaining why they didn’t make it into the final film.
- Filmmaker’s Commentary is an audio commentary track by the directors Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson and producer Aron Warner
- “Shrek, Rattle & Roll” consists of:
- “Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party” (2 minutes, 53 seconds – HD)
- Baha Men – “Best Years of Our Lives” (3 minutes, 8 seconds – SD)
- Smash Mouth – “I’m A Believer” (3 minutes, 15 seconds – SD)
- “Shrek The Musical” – “What’s Up Duloc?” (3 minutes, 57 seconds – HD)
- DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox (10 minutes, 8 seconds – HD) lets you watch clips from other films by the studio like Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon. To access the “play all” function, just click the DreamWorks logo with the moon.
- Previews include one that is related to this release, for “Shrek the Musical” (1 minute, 5 seconds- HD) as other previews for a video game and films that were coming out to home video and theatrically at the time back in 2010 when this Blu-ray was released.
Bonus Blu-ray Disc extras are ALL presented in 1080p HD video with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround sound. The extras on this disc include the following:
- “Shrek’s Short Films” features a “play all” function and consists of the following three shorts:
- “Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Party” (2 minutes, 51 seconds – HD)
- “Far Far Away Idol” (9 minutes – HD)
- “Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos” (13 minutes, 6 seconds – HD)
- “Shrek’s Halloween Favorites” features a “play all” function and consists of the following three spooky shorts & one TV Special:
- “The Ghost of Lord Farquaad” (12 minutes, 34 seconds – HD)
- “Scared Shrekless” (25 minutes, 30 seconds – HD)
- “Thriller Night” (6 minutes, 8 seconds – HD)
- “The Pig Who Cried Wolf” (6 minutes, 49 seconds – HD)
- “Shrek’s Holiday Favorites” features a “play all” function and consists of one short, a TV Special, and a festive screensaver:
- “Shrek the Halls” (28 minutes, 2 seconds – HD)
- “Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-tacular” (6 minutes, 39 seconds – HD)
- “Shrek’s Yule Log” (30 minutes, 19 seconds – HD) is technically just a screensaver but it featured voices and cast all throughout and proves to actually be watching once and not just leaving on in the background during the holidays.
- “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” TV Episodes features a “play all” function and consists of the following five episodes:
- “Hidden” (23 minutes, 4 seconds – HD)
- “Sphinx” (23 minutes, 4 seconds – HD)
- “Brothers” (23 minutes, 4 seconds – HD)
- “Dutchess” (23 minutes, 4 seconds – HD)
- “Adventure” (23 minutes, 2 seconds – HD)
The bonus materials here not only give you the original Blu-ray extras, on both the 4K UHD Blu-ray and included Blu-ray, but also come with the exclusive bonus disc that makes for over 4 hours of extras. This is one excellent set of bonus materials and you also get a 4K digital copy of the film. It would have been nice, since the film is celebrating its 20th anniversary here, to have got a new featurette such as a retrospective with the cast and crew. However, given the time we are living in, it is totally understandable and acceptable that we don’t get any new content here.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“Shrek” was a 2001 CG animated film that turned out to be one major success, both receiving critical acclaim in reviews as well as in terms of its financial return at the box office. The film is said to have been made on a 60 million dollar budget. It would end up grossing 487 million worldwide theatrically. That turned out to be one excellent investment, for the studio, and the film really helped CG animation catch popularity along with two particular films from another studio [Pixar] releasing CG animated films as well at this time. Shrek also was the winner of the very first “Best Animated Feature” at The Oscars (Academy Awards) back in 2002 — a category that was introduced that year.
Shrek would go on to have a total of three direct sequels with “Shrek 2” (2005), “Shrek the Third” (2007), and “Shrek Forever After” (2010). There also was a spin-off film “Puss in Boots” (2011), which is set to be getting a sequel in 2022 — according to IMDb.
In terms of video quality, this makes for one very impressive 2K upconversion of a CG animated film twenty years in age. Sure, some scenes may look a tad bit dated and the animation is a little bit rough around the edges at times, but it still makes for some of the very same “eye candy” to show off a display as it did back in the DVD and Blu-ray days. It’s close to perfect and by far probably the best this film is going to ever look. This 4K release is a definite upgrade visually and the addition of HDR10 makes for some very realistic lighting and more accurate colors as well as even textures.
In terms of audio quality, you get a new sound mix here with DTS:X immersive sound this time around in comparison to the original Blu-ray. Is that a good thing, getting the addition of height channel speakers, and did they make correct use of them enough to do an already impressive surround sound mix justice? Well, that’s up for some debate, but I personally found it to be enough of an improvement to say, yes it’s doing the film justice and was worth being upgraded to the newer sound format. I still do love the original surround mix though, I’m not going to lie, and I wish it had been included here as an option in the Dolby TrueHD format. Sorry, DTS.
Finally, this release comes with all of the original extras you had over on the original 2010 Blu-ray release on both the 4K and Blu-ray. Plus, there’s a bonus Blu-ray which includes a plethora of animated shorts and TV episodes that all feature characters from the franchise. This all totals up to well over 4 hours in runtime and is sure to leave fans of the film busy after they’ve finished watching the new 4K presentation. All and all, “Shrek” in its debut to 4K UHD Blu-ray makes for a recommended upgrade.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.75 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials