Friday, 31 May 2013

Shrek 4-D

If I’m going to write reports on whatever short I see at the Ghibli museum – and I fully intend to – it only makes sense to write about the Shrek short seen as part of the ‘Far Far Away’ world at Universal Studios, Singapore (also screened in every other Universal park. After cute theming based on the puns and deadpan delivery of silly fairytail ideas that characterise the Shrek films and go entirely over the heads of most of the audience at Singapore, the audience is shown into a pre-show featuring the set-up of several minor characters having been captured by the ghost of Lord Farquaad – which largely involved people who don’t speak English, or don’t speak English well enough to understand the exaggerated accents of Shrek, to shuffle, walk out, or in the case of large groups of mainland Chinese, elbow their way forward when they realised they would be going through some doors to the movie theatre proper. There, a surprisingly long, rollicking tale of Shrek and Donkey once again rescuing Fiona from Farquaad (whose voice made me crave Third Rock from the Sun episodes), and somehow ghosts being susceptible to a puff of dragonfire (eh, with fantasy you can make up the rules), it is inelegant but likeable enough. An update with Puss in Boots and other characters from the sequels might be welcome.

Being ‘4-D’, the film came with the usual gimmicks that justify claiming that step above 3D – sneezes and droplets of a waterfall being rendered by little sprays of water, chairs clunkily thundering along in a way that made me miss the comforts of D-Box technology, ghosts causing a little chill of cold air about the nape…and rather better than those, a silly little prop fairy crash-landed into a speaker and thick air about the ankles for creepy spiders. Having been released back in 2003, before the 3-D gimmick went into full swing, this seems to have been a little ahead of its time in terms of polarizing for each eye and avoiding too much ghosting, but now suffers from the oversaturation of the effects and the obvious use of its gimmicks – no longer special enough to warrant having attention drawn to them in such a way.

The film has apparently been released on DVD, both in 3-D and 2-D, but both would seem to me likely to suffer from how blatantly several moments exist purely to make use of the gimmicks of the 4-D theatre. It unashamedly exaggerates these moments, and without the accompanying effect, I can see them coming over as pointless or even bewildering.

There have now been numerous Shrek shorts and if I ever write impressions of them, it’ll probably be all together. But purely for being in the context of the park, I felt this one should have an entry. 

1 comment:

  1. I believe I saw this short when my friend and I went to Universal Studios here in California many years ago. Since you said the short came out in 2003, that's probably around when we saw it since I remember it being new at the time. I barely remember the story or anything since it was so long ago and I haven't been to Universal Studios in a long time. But I recall it being at least amusing and the 4-D effects being fun. Though my favorite of these types of "4-D" movies I've seen (which isn't many) is the one they used to have at Disneyland, Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Kinda sad they took it away.

    BTW, I didn't know there was a Universal Studios in Singapore. Did you go there for vacation or something? I'm surprised they didn't dub the short into Chinese.