Thursday, July 01, 2010

Shrek Forever After


  • Released Internationally on 20/05/10
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 02/07/10 (also in 3D)

Preview (first published 30/06/10 in VIDA magazine)

In a nutshell

Everyone’s favourite green ogre (Shrek, or Fiona, depending on your tastes), is back for the fourth and final adventure. They have a new nemesis, and he’s short with red hair.

Why we’re hyped?

The third instalment may not have set the world alight, but it had a tough job topping the first and second parts of this alternative fairytale, which remains one of the freshest and funniest franchises around. In less than a decade, Shrek has firmly established himself in popular culture, bringing with him a barrage of quotes and jokes, and giving rise to numerous imitations. Along with Pixar’s stellar output, Shrek is largely to thank for the constant output of smart, hilarious and spectacular computer animation we get to enjoy today. So it’s fitting that he is sent off with a bang, in what the filmmakers have promised will be the final chapter. Something tells me this won’t be a simple sentimental ‘happily ever after’ type closure.

Who’s in it?

The four main stars return. Mike Myers’s faux Scottish accent has become synonymous with the titular ogre, despite no rational reason for it being there. Cameron Diaz continues to sound better than she looks as his blushing, verdant bride. Eddie Murphy, the highlight of the original chapter, is still stomping around as the ever-faithful sidekick, Donkey, and Antonio Banderas once again lends his silky voice to the star of the second film, Puss in Boots, who now has a motivation and weight problem. Voice actor Walter Dohrn is the new major addition as the fiendish Rumpelstiltskin, whose infamous tantrum has now developed into a larger, more anti-social problem. Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine) also joins the cast as Cookie the ogre, and the wonderful John Cleese and Julie Andrews reprise their roles as Fiona’s entertaining parents. It’s curtain call time for possibly the best original character of the past decade.


Review (01/07/10)

Green and unamused

You'd think Shrek of all creatures would know that the grass is always greener on the other side. But he doesn't, and as his new life with Fiona and the triplets starts to settle down into a routine of burps, nappies, lack of sleep and not a moment of quiet, he starts to miss the time when he was a feared, secluded ogre with nothing to keep him from taking relaxing mud baths all day. So, in a moment of frustration, he says some regrettable things to Fiona, and storms off for some time to think. Enter Rumpelstilskin, a fiendish little redhead with an old grudge and a disturbing pet. He pounces on Shrek's moment of weakness and offers him an apparently simple deal - twenty-four hours of his single, villager-chasing days in exchange for some other day from his life - such as some day from his baby years which he doesn't even remember. Shrek doesn't sleep on it, and signs, which is never a good idea.

Fiona, warrior princess

What follows in a wonderfully inventive and entertaining Shrek adventure in what could be described as an alternate universe - what the kingdom of Far, Far, Away would look like if Shrek had never appeared on the scene and Rumpelstiltskin ruled the roost with his cackling army of ashen-faced witches. This idea works, because it allows us to rediscover the beloved characters and locations all over again, without the storyline having to toss in new elements to keep the novelty factor going, as happened in Shrek the Third. So we meet Puss in Boots, who has outgrown his boots and most other garments in sight thanks to a life of lazy pampering. And a ruffled Donkey who lives a hard life carting slaves and has to sing for his supper. Fiona, on the other hand has grown into a Xena-type revolutionary princess, who leads the resistance against Rumpelstiltskin. And none of them have any idea who this Shrek guy is, despite his insistence that he's their best friend.

Cool mule

As Shrek's friends rediscover him, and Shrek learns to appreciate how great his life was before that ill-fated contract signing, so do we. Which makes this fourth and final chapter a joy to watch. Donkey is given his due prominence, and Eddie Murphy does his usual stellar job as he sings, dances, and even tries to introduce 'flip-flop Fridays'. The music often takes centre stage, with Rumpelstiltskin employing the skills of the Pied Piper to smother the resistance, with hilarious musical results. There's even a brief but wonderfully timed Lionel Richie moment that is one of the musical highlights of the show. And when against all the odds everything falls nicely back into place for our thick-skinned hero, we're treated to the expected swamp-party to end all swamp-parties, which appropriately serves as a curtain call for the entire story, including good old Farquaad.

In the end

After a disappointing third outing (but only by Shrek's high standards), the franchise finishes with a flourish. A fitting end to a fantastic fairytale.



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