Fortunately the clever Donkey (Eddie Murphy) knows one or two things about exit clauses in Rumpelstiltskin's seemingly impenetrable contracts, and helps Shrek to find one chance at restoring things to the way they were. Turning the first film's premise on its head, now it is Shrek who must obtain "Love's True Kiss" from Fiona, but to do so, he has to get her to fall in love with him. This is no mean feat considering they've never met and Fiona is a bit preoccupied battling Rumpelstiltskin and trying to keep her ogre friends out of captivity.
Perhaps the funniest bits of the film come from seeing our beloved ensemble of supporting characters as they might have been: "Puss in Boots" (Antonio Banderas) has softened into a pampered fat cat (literally) without the energy to even get up from his bowl of milk to chase mice. The gingerbread man (Conrad Vernon) has become a sort of gladiator, destroying animal crackers with a broken lollipop as his weapon, as raucous villagers place their bets on the sidelines. And Fiona has become the fiery-haired warrior princess we always knew she could be after that fight scene in the forest in the first film. Can Shrek rally the troops, and convince Fiona he is her one true love in time to save the kingdom (not to mention his very existence)? We certainly hope so as the director Mike Mitchell and writers, Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke have managed to inject enough originality and earnestness into the tale to make us care how it all turns out.
The film's animation style seems a bit dated, is spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that it's blown up onto the huge screen in IMAX 3D. But "Shrek Forever After" does present a unified look with the previous films which will hold up well for fans who may hold 4-part Shrekathons. Dreamworks has previously announced that they will be re-releasing the three earlier Shrek films in 3D on Blu-ray 3D Disc later this year, so we wouldn't be surprised by a 4-film boxed set.
The 3D effect here in the fourth film is actually fairly subtle, giving characters heft and substance, and imparting the locations and backdrops a more exaggerated sense of space and depth (as in a flying dragon ride over the countryside which may not play well if you're afraid of heights). Sure there is the occasional projectile weapon coming at ya, but for the full 93 minutes, I never once thought "that was cheesy" -- well at least not about the 3D effects. The story does border on schmaltzy -- understandable given its theme -- but mostly in a good way, culminating with a welling of emotions as the heartstrings are tugged in the (fairly predictable) conclusion. If you can see the film in IMAX 3D, then do, as it will certainly heighten your immersion in the bizarro fantasyland that is Shrek and Company's present reality.
Overall, "Shrek Forever After" may not be as clever or original as the first film, but it offers enough laughs, excitement and adventure to provide a fitting final chapter for the beloved animated series.
|Movie title||Shrek Forever After|
|Summary||While not as compelling or original as the first film, this fourth and final chapter provides an amusing and enjoyable conclusion to the animated series.|