June 6, 2010

Shrek Forever After

shrek42_large2001 saw the arrival of Shrek. It was Dreamworks latest foray int feature animation and it proved to be a big hit and the animation division could finally contend with Pixar (who was and continues to be top dog in computer animation). It told the story of an ogre trying to find some meaning to his life and finding love with a princess held captive by a dragon. It exists in a fairytale land and features all manner of recognizable characters. Three years later we returned to the land of Far Far Away to find Shrek and the Princess married, home from their honeymoon. Then came Shrek the Third in 2007, this time we get to witness Shrek play king.That brings us to now, the fourth and supposedly final film of the franchise. Where does he go now?

Well, I will say that this is a step up from the third film, but that doesn't say much and it isn't by a whole lot. Seriously, that third film was dead on arrival. I don't care how much money it made, the film was half baked and failed to do what the first two had done. They got away from the fairytale base and tried to make it too "real." I swear, that's not what I wanted from Shrek. Yes, I recognize that it is not my call or anyone in the audience to decide what the movie is about, but I do think the creative team need to play by their own established rules or at least have some sort of explanation for the shift.


The route they went down in the third film carries over to Shrek Forever After. Gone are the fairytale trappings that were the early hallmark of the series. The characters are still their, but their reason for being is quite different, more employees of the story than an organic part of it. Replacing the fairytale elements are more domestic concerns. This new movie picks up the Shrek/Fiona marriage after they have been together for awhile, they have their routine with their kids and you can see that it is having an affect on their relationship.

Everything comes to a head at their children's first birthday party. Shrek has hit something of a mid-life crisis, longing for the days when he was a real ogre and the townsfolk feared him. Instead, he is a domesticated monster that can be called upon to perform at will.


These feelings built to a breaking point where he snaps at Fiona and heads off alone. He bumps into Rumplestiltskin, the sneaky little fella offers him a chance to be a real ogre again. This leads to no good, of course. Rumple uses the contract to get Shrek out of the way and take over Far Far Away. Shrek is now charged with getting his life back, learning lessons along the way.

That about sums what happens in this film. It is not really fun. It is not particularly exciting. The laughs are few and far between. I just was not enthralled with the story. It felt dark, serious, and more heady than a film that is ostensibly for children should be. The series always had a quotient that was there for the adults, but the pendulum swung a little too far in that direction this time around. As heady and insightful as it wants to be regarding maturing relationships and the changes and conflicts that go with it, it doesn't have anything new to say. So, they robbed the series of its fun and replaced it with something wholly different and, dare I say, unwanted.


The biggest thing I learned about the franchise from this movie is that I do not care about he characters at all. I do not feel any affection towards them and I do not really care if I ever see any of the Shrek movies again. They are a product of their time and the passing of time has not been kind to them or my memories of them.

Bottomline. If you are interested in this, you have probably already seen it and could probably care less about my criticisms. Be that as it may. This is a small step up from three, but that does not make it good. Hopefully this will actually be the last of the series. In the meantime, skip this.

Not Recommended.



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