While I liked Shrek a lot, I've got a lot of mixed feelings about it. First off, yes, the story was pretty weak, and I didn't get into the characters as much as I did in TENG.
I liked most of the "subversive" humor in there. True, they used "ass" a few too many times, but the whole thing wasn't quite as mean-spirited as I feared. Shrek's success in light of this gives me hope and makes me worry at the same time. The hope: maybe animation will finally manage to shake the stupid bias of Americans that every single bit of it is just for kids. Damn, that chaps my hide every time something mature is labelled by critics as an abhorration. The worry: this will spawn a lot of bad imitators who think that the more pop culture references and mean-spiritedness you cram in, the better it is (a la Family Guy).
The music I didn't really mind at all. I liked most of the songs, and I know that the filmmakers were trying to go in a completely different direction than the usual Disney musical, so I could appreciate that. (Interesting side note... for Lilo and Stitch, Disney's next effort after Atlantis, Disney has licensed the use of seven Elvis songs. Hmmmmm.)
But I've got to say that I still hate the CGI style... Toy Story did it a lot better. This leads me to another worry... that people will assume that CGI is "inherently cool," and produce a hell of a lot of crap while leaving cel animation in the dust. Don't believe me? Check out this sentence from a review of Atlantis in Entertainment Weekly...
Argh. Just because something is technologically advanced doesn't mean that it's got a better style! Again, Shrek looked shoddy. And while Toy Story looked great, it doesn't replace cel animation... it's just something new and different. Furthermore, it seems a lot of people aren't even noticing that computer animation has lead to great effects in cel movies (The Iron Giant, the props in TENG). But maybe they blend in so well that people don't notice and won't give them credit for integrating them.
Has my eye, seduced by the devious and tactile delights of ''Shrek,'' already evolved in tandem with the technological leaps in computer animation?
You read it... you can't un-read it!