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DREAMWORKS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Gary Trousdale
Cast:
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Cody Cameron, Susan Fitzer, Christopher Knights, Gary Trousdale, Conrad Vernon
Writing Credits:
Gary Trousdale, Sean Bishop, Theresa Cullen, Bill Riling, William Steig (book, "Shrek!")

Synopsis:
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Banderas lend their voices to this holly-bedecked continuation of the Shrek saga. It's the night before Christmas and the jolly green ogre is trying to make it the best holiday ever. Unfortunately, Shrek has always been a little slow at picking things up. Nothing goes according to plan as Donkey, Puss in Boots, and Gingy all have wildly different ideas about how the big day should be celebrated - to the consternation of Shrek's family. First broadcast on ABC, Shrek The Halls is a welcome addition to the series of zany computer-animated comedies--as well as a worthy entry into the hallowed tradition of holiday specials.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 28 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 11/4/2008

Bonus:
• Two Sing Alongs
• “Gingy’s Dunking Game”
• “Shrek Carnival Craze” Video Game Demo
• DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox
• Preview


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Shrek The Halls (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 20, 2008)

Cinema’s favorite ogre makes his move into holiday fare with 2007’s Shrek the Halls. A TV special, Halls depicts Christmas in the swamp. Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) doesn’t care about the holiday, but Fiona (Cameron Diaz) wants a happy Yule so he does his best to deliver a warm family Christmas.

Of course, this doesn’t go according to schedule. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) interjects himself into Shrek’s plans and sends things in a different direction. While Shrek crafts a quiet evening with Fiona and their babies, Donkey brings all their pals over for a more raucous festival. Hijinks ensue.

When I first heard about Halls, I suspected it’d offer little more than a money grab to help propagate the Shrek franchise. After all, ogres and Christmas don’t go together very well, so there was no logical reason for the show to exist. I feared a crass piece of fluff would result.

While not a classic, Halls does at least manage to exceed my expectations. On the negative side, it comes with a terribly thin story. It throws us a standard “family is what you make it” theme and loosely constructs a plot around it. Frankly, Christmas isn’t a holiday that connects too well with the Shrek universe. It just seems a little odd to see a religious occasion celebrated in a fairy tale world like this, and the two don’t match neatly.

The special’s positives help overcome this issue, however. I’m happy to see the return of all the major cast members, as I worried a made-for-TV piece like this would toss in substitutes. Granted, Halls leaves out some big-name supporting characters, but the big four of Myers, Diaz, Murphy and Antonio Banderas all show up here, and we also find the less well-known folks who do roles like Pinocchio and Gingy. That sense of continuity helps make Halls feel like an “A”-level piece, not just a cheap spin-off.

Production values remain good, as the animation lives up to the standards set in the films, and the special includes enough amusement to make it worthwhile. Without question, the best part of the show comes from the various versions of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Gingy’s horror story is easily the best, but I like the takes from Donkey and Puss as well. The other aspects of Halls aren’t quite as good, but they entertain.

Shrek the Halls doesn’t dazzle in any way, but then again, it doesn’t really attempt to do so. Despite the presence of its big stars, it provides a rather modest tale. It throws out enough laughs and charm to be worthwhile.


The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Shrek the Halls appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Expect terrific visuals from this transfer.

At all times, sharpness looked excellent. Every aspect of the image came across as crisp and well-defined, without any soft or fuzzy elements on display. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge enhancement failed to occur. Source flaws also remained absent in this clean presentation.

Halls followed the standard Shrek palette, though it may’ve gone a little more green than usual, as it favored that side of the Christmas colors. The hues came across well, as they always appeared vivid and warm. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows seemed clean and well-developed. I felt very pleased with this fine presentation.

Though not as impressive, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Halls was perfectly acceptable for the material. The soundscape favored the forward channels. It offered good stereo delineation for the music as well as a bit of localized speech. Effects cropped up from logical spots and blended together nicely. The surrounds didn’t have a lot to do, but they added some decent atmosphere to the affair.

Audio quality succeeded as well. Speech was concise and natural, while music sounded full and rich. Effects demonstrated good clarity and accuracy, and those elements also boasted pretty nice low-end response; Gingy’s nightmare Santa stomps into the room with real heft. There wasn’t enough “dazzle” on display for the audio to merit a grade above a “B”, but the soundtrack satisfied.

Halls comes with a pretty skimpy roster of extras. We open with two Sing Alongs. These come for “12 Days of Christmas” and “Deck the Halls”. These take characters from Madagascar and dub Christmas tunes over those shots. The visuals aren’t synched to the music; instead, we just get clips from a Christmas short starring the Madagascar penguins with the songs on top of them. Both are pretty much a waste of time, and I have no idea why Madagascar characters appear on a Shrek DVD.

Gingy’s Dunking Game provides a very simple matching contest. It requires you to select the Gingy most like a model. It’s quite easy – and boring, as it presents no reward for success.

If you want to pop the disc in your computer, you can access a game demo for Shrek Carnival Craze. Given the lame quality of the disc’s other extras, I skipped it.

Finally, we get a DreamWorks Animation Jukebox. This lets you see/hear songs from Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, Over the Hedge, Madagascar and Shark Tale. All of this feels like glorified advertising to me.

The DVD opens with an ad for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. No other promos or previews appear on the disc.

Will Shrek the Halls turn into an enduring holiday classic ala A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Probably not, but it’s possible. At least the special provides decent entertainment and charm. The DVD offers excellent visuals and good audio but skimps on extras.

While I enjoyed Halls, I find it difficult to recommend the DVD simply because it’s not much of a value. It retails for almost $20 even though it includes only a 28-minute special and some crummy supplements. I think it’s worth a rental, but I wouldn’t buy Halls unless I could get it for less than $10.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.7333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
55:
24:
0 3:
02:
81:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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