Shrek 2
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By Dreamworks Pictures
Produced By Dreamworks Pictures
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Shrek 2 takes off right from where Shrek ended. Shrek and Fiona are now married, and our first images are the camcorder-style glimpses of their honeymoon, the two of them larking about in total married bliss, having a wonderful, romantic time.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon is over, the two of them return to the foreboding image of married life as the film opens, with Donkey having house-sat for them, and done absolutely nothing save make himself at home. If the piles of unopened letters, dust-covered furniture, and dead plants were not enough, a messenger arrives at the door, to proclaim that the King and Queen of Far Far Away ? Fiona?s parents ? would like to meet Shrek?

From a plot standpoint, it is just as twisting and convoluted as the first film, perhaps marred only slightly in that there is no single, over-arching plotline to deal with. Instead, Shrek 2 deals with solutions to married woes, and the new in-laws, along with assassination attempts and carriage-chases. Fun enough, but not ground-shattering. Almost exactly like a more normal life in the Shrek world.

Graphically, it has moved on from the original. The graphics of Shrek were great, but Shrek 2 came out in 2004 ? over three years had passed since the original was released. Technology had moved on ? and it shows. Just like the original, every leaf, every blade of grass is modelled individually. Unlike the original film, the landscape really pans. You can see much further into the distance, and see many more, grandiose shots.

Remember the cornfields of Shrek? Now, we get sweeping landscapes

Perhaps the greatest sign of change is the inclusion of weather, something largely lacking from the original film. Yes, there were storm clouds near the castle, and the occasional fluffy in the sky, but no sign of actual weather conditions, really taxing the computational power.

Of course, back in 2001, Shrek was taxing enough for the poor mainframes, but in Shrek 2, we are introduced to sweeping deluges which pound spray in all directions, fragmenting visibility as the light diffuses through the rain, creating glowing halos around objects moving through it, and actually changing the way the ground reacts to passing vehicles.

On top of that, we get blizzards, show piled high, near-burying the characters, and again radically altering the landscape. Snow is not pure whiteness, it reflects, and changes the ambient lighting conditions. It is hard to gain traction on, and tends to scrunch away underfoot, moving and changing with each footprint, and tyre tread.

Let us not forget the fast-moving action pans, offering shaky glimpses from camera views of fleeing fugitives, racing through the underbrush, and half-concealing trees as the camera flails about, trying to get, and keep, a lock on the targets.

Rain changes everything

Shrek 2 is a masterpiece in many respects, not least for showcasing just how far things moved in just a few years ? going from close-in shots of great detail, to grand, sweeping visages with the same amount of detail. Just as funny as the original, and if anything, more realistic, Shrek 2 is a must for any shelf.

It truly advertises and advocates the type of virtual environment interactive virtual reality is striving for.