Sunday, June 13, 2010
Movie Review: Shrek Forever After
It's been out a few weeks already, but I did catch Shrek Forever After a little while back with my niece, in which I got to take her to her first 3D movie. She loved the film and I found it to be a much better turn this time around than the third installment of the series. Shrek 4, for abbreviations sake, was much closer tonally with the second film, not quite managing to over top the magic of the first movie, but retaining enough humor for both adults and children to enjoy equally.
Shrek 4 sees the main cast of the film return. Mike Meyers as the vice of the ogre Shrek, Cameron Diaz as his wife, the once cursed Princess Fiona, Eddie Murphy as Shrek's best friend, the maniacally cheerful Donkey, and Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots. They all fit in very comfortably and have a great rapport as each character. I also think one of the great bits of Shrek has been the quality of the voice acting, from the main characters to the supporting cast, like the Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, and the Three Little Pigs, each has a very unique voice and plays really well of each other.
The film starts out with Shrek entering a serious mid life crisis. He's forgotten why his family and friends make him happy, succumbing to the endless repeating of teh same stress filled days. He longs for the days when he was fear as an ogre and just wants to have a bit of freedom, away from his crying infant children and the constant pressures of being a celebrity (for his heroic actions) Everything comes boiling to a head at his triplets first birthday party, where the stresses just get to him and he snaps at everyone. After storming out of the party, he gets into another fight with his wife Fiona and yells at her that he wishes things were the way they use to be before he met her. She leaves him, saddened, and Shrek storms away. Meanwhile, Rumpelstiltskin (voiced by writer Walter Dohrn) overhears Shrek's pleas and conspires to get revenge on Shrek> Years earlier Fiona's parents were willing to sign their kingdom over to Rumple in order to break the curse on their daughter, but seconds before they signed, news reached them of Shrek freeing the Princess. Falling on hard times, Rumple believes this to be his big break and tricks Shrek into signing a contract with him. In exchange or granting him a single day to be the ogre he use to be, Shrek agrees to give up a single day from his childhood. Little does Shrek know that the single day he gives up is the day of his birth.
At first Shrek enjoys his time, scaring villagers and living the carefree lifestyle, but when Shrek realizes the enormity of his problem, he sets about to confront Rumple and reclaim his wife and friends, who no longer know who he is. After confronting Rumple, he and Donkey escape slavery to join up with Fiona and her ogre resistance force, which is dedicated to stopping Rumple who has now taken over the kingdom thanks to Shrek's failure to save the Princess. With no Price Charming to save her, Fiona had to save herself and has become embittered about the thought of love. Shrek finds out the one loophole in Rumple's contract is that he has one day to make Fiona, his true love, fall in love with him again or he ceases to be. The question is, can he make someone believe in love who doesn't anymore.
Overall the film does find a nice balance of comedy and drama, really bridging a nice gap with the series and righting the ship a bit for the franchise as a whole. Myers brings his usual charm to the role while Murphy continues to churn out a better comedic performance in these films than in most of his live action ones. I wish we had a bit more of the supporting cast though, other than the introduction of Rumple, many of the characters that they have developed over the past 3 films kind of fall to the wayside here and they don't really bring in anyone new. I'm sure Puss in Boots, arguably the break out star of the previous installments, has a lot on tap for his own planned feature next year, but I'd have liked to seen the Gingerbread Man or one of the other characters accelerated.
One of the things you cannot question is the films look. The animation is spotless, you can really see the smoothness and the texturing in this film is on a whole new level in comparison to earlier installments. They also did a great job with the 3D. While not the best 3D film to date, I like that they used 3D to enhance the picture and didn't add a bunch of sequences to highlight the fact that it was in 3D. Nothing felt forced or wedged in like I have seen in other 3D adaptions. Dreamworks has really established itself as a potential threat in terms o animation quality with the likes of Disney, though everyone is still chasing the masters at Pixar.
it's certainly hard to match the quality of storytelling in a sequel, especially when one compares it to the source film. Very few films get better as they are sequeled and even more get worse after that. It was nice to see a film improve after having such a lackluster third installment. While Shrek Forever After may or may not be the swan song for every one's favorite ogre, it is a much more fitting chapter to end the series on if it does. Though i still believe there are more tales to tell in this world, Shrek 4 is one of the few films this year to not disappoint. I had a good time with the film, and while I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, in a struggling cinematic environment like the one at the box office today, it is a fitting use of your money and will deliver on the promise of a few laughs. If you liked Shrek 2, then you'll like Shrek 4. Thanks for reading!
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