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‘Shrek’ Delivers DVD-ROM Goodies

TIMES STAFF WRITER

DreamWorks’ double-disc DVD of “Shrek” ($20), which arrives in stores Friday, is loaded with goodies. In fact, 11 hours’ worth. But be forewarned: Unless you have a DVD-ROM, several of the features are unavailable, including one that enables you to substitute your voice for that of a character in the movie.

A delightful, computer-animated, fractured fairy tale, the movie features the voice of Mike Myers as a Scottish ogre, Shrek, who teams up with a wisecracking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) to rescue beautiful Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a fire-breathing dragon so she can become the bride of evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow).

Thankfully, there are still enough goodies for those without a DVD-ROM to enjoy. Besides including both wide-screen and full-screen versions of the comedy--which has grossed $266 million domestically to date--there’s also an extended ending, which features the various characters singing more songs. Shrek performs “Just the Way You Are.” Princess Fiona trills “Like a Virgin.” The executioner wails “Feelings.” Robin Hood and His Merrie Men get very merry with a new version of “YMCA.” And Donkey leads the gang in a rendition of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music.”

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The first disc includes an interesting behind-the-scenes featurette on how the characters came to life. Children can enjoy their own section of the disc, which features such games as “Ask the Magic Mirror” and a character morph that allows one to mix and match the body parts of Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey and Lord Farquaad.

The wee ones can also access their favorite scenes from the movie and enjoy funny interviews with Shrek, Fiona and Donkey, who talk about their experiences making the film.

Disc 2 features freewheeling comedy with directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jensen and producer Aaron Warner, a featurette on the technology used in the film, a fascinating look at the animators pitching storyboards of scenes to fellow animators and the directors, several amusing “technical goofs,” a peek at how “Shrek” was dubbed into several languages and still shots demonstrating the evolution of the characters.

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Get out your hankies! Walt Disney’s 1941 animated classic “Dumbo” is back in a new, beautifully restored and remastered 60th anniversary edition ($23 for VHS; $30 for the DVD). At only 64 minutes--the shortest of all Disney’s animated features--"Dumbo” is considered by some critics as the greatest animated film ever made.

Beautiful in its animation and simplicity, “Dumbo” tells the heartbreaking story of an adorable baby elephant with big ears who, with the help of a mouse named Timothy, discovers he can use them to fly. The classic songs include the Oscar-nominated “Baby Mine,” “Casey Junior” and “When I See an Elephant Fly.”

The charming DVD features a music video of Michael Crawford performing “Baby Mine”; a sneak look at the made-for-video sequel “Dumbo II” (currently in production); the original Walt Disney introduction to “Dumbo’s” presentation on the ‘50s TV series “Disneyland”; a wonderful “Celebration Dumbo” featurette that recalls the history of the project; a look at creating the voice of Casey Jr., which is excerpted from the 1941 Robert Benchley short “The Reluctant Dragon”; and two Disney animated shorts that are precursors to “Dumbo”: “Elmer Elephant” and “The Flying Mouse.” There is also a “Dumbo” art gallery, two sing-alongs, an interactive storybook for the kids and informative commentary from the soft-spoken animation historian John Canemaker.

With its violent terrorist plot, the thriller “Swordfish” (Warner, $23) is a bit of an uncomfortable watch these days. John Travolta, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and Don Cheadle star in this rather mindless action thriller. The pedestrian DVD includes passable commentary from director Dominic Sena, an HBO “making of” documentary, three alternative endings with commentary by Sena, trailers and talent files. The best extra is a short but entertaining documentary on one of the movie’s most spectacular special-effects sequences.

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With the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor rapidly approaching, Universal has released two mediocre World War II dramas on DVD, “Midway” and “MacArthur” ($25 each).

“Midway,” from 1975, boasts an all-star cast including Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Robert Mitchum, Hal Holbrook, Glenn Ford and Robert Wagner. “The Midway Collector’s Edition” features an extensive documentary on the making of the film, including interviews with producer Walter Mirisch, director Jack Smight, editor Frank K. Urioste and Heston. There is also a short interview with composer John Williams, who talks about his score, and a brief look at Universal’s audio format Sensurround Sound, which enhanced the sounds of gunfire, bombing and explosions. Sensurround was first used for the 1974 film “Earthquake.” In addition, the DVD includes some scenes that were shot for the TV version, photos, production notes and the trailer.

“MacArthur” (1977), which stars Gregory Peck as the controversial military leader, only includes a trailer, talent files and production notes.

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Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that dancer Michael Flatley has put Irish dancing on the map. And according to the Guinness Book of Records, Flatley, who came to fame in “Riverdance,” has the quickest feet in the world. Those feet are on ample display in “Michael Flatley Gold” (Universal, $20 for VHS; $25 for DVD), which his fans will probably devour. “Gold” combines an interview with Flatley, performance footage from “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance,” lots of behind-the-scenes footage and a photo gallery. It’s also fun to watch how many times Flatley’s hair changes color.

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A&E;, which has released all the episodes of the classic British comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” is offering a new compilation set, “Monty Python Live!” (VHS, $30; DVD, $40), starring those irreverent cutups John Cleese, Michel Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle. The set features the 1982 “Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl” concert film; the wonderful 1998 reunion, “Monty Python Live at Aspen,” which originally aired on HBO; and the enjoyable tribute “20 Years of Python Parrot Sketch Not Included,” hosted by Steve Martin. Also included is the rare “Fliegender Zirkus #1,” an episode from 1972 that was done for West German TV.


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