a critiQal film review Shrek Forever After (2010)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Longing for the days when he felt like a "real ogre" instead of the domesticated family man he's become, Shrek (Myers) is duped into signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin (Dohrn). Shrek suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Shrek and Fiona (Diaz) have never met. Now, it's up to Shrek to undo all he's done in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his One True Love.

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  • ...ends the series with the same solid mix of good storytelling, spot-on sense of humor and touch of heart in which it began.

After seeing Shrek the Third (2007), we didn’t really know what to think when yet another sequel was announced. Was another sequel really advisable, or was Dreamworks just getting greedy? We hoped for the former – but expected the latter. So, when Shrek Forever After opened last week, we were hopeful, but decided to hang back and see what others said before shelling out the big bucks for ourselves.

When nothing but positive reviews came back to us, however, we decided to check it out for ourselves this long Memorial Day weekend. Would our friends be right, and this latest sequel was something really worth seeing? Or would we be sadly disappointed for the second time in a row by our favorite ogre and his friends?

The original cast is back for a 4th time, and viewers will be glad to have them back. Honestly, at this point, having someone else voice them would just be plain ludicrous. Viewers expect to hear Shrek sound like Mike Myers, Donkey like Eddie Murphy, etc. and anything else would be incredibly off-putting – unless a change in voice fit into the storyline. The cast, old hands at these characters by this point, don’t disappoint at all, and voice the characters with the same gusto as they have since the beginning.

While the plot has always looked good on paper, Shrek the Third (2007) proved that the execution of that plot is sometimes lacking. Thankfully, Shrek Forever After takes it’s cue from the rest of the series instead of it’s immediate predecessor, and brings the plot to life with style.

Still, it’s probably a good thing that this is supposedly the last film in the series (although a spin-off, Puss in Boots (2011), is rumored to be in the works). While the idea of someone duping Shrek into signing up for something without understanding the full ramifications, then having to get back to Fiona, isn’t exactly new (see Shrek 2 (2004)), the way the film tells that story helps it stand clearly on it’s own.

The film also has a surprise in store – there are plenty of ogres in and around Far Far Away – an omission that never seemed to be so glaring until now. Of course there are other ogres! Never have the films ever even hinted that Shrek was the only ogre around, instead, the viewer assumed it to be the case without even really thinking about it. It comes as a bit of a shock at first, but will, in hindsight, make perfect sense.

While the plot does seem to be a bit of a retread of Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek Forever After, it also gives the series a chance to radically change the characters viewers remember – at least on the outside. But, whether the change is an out-of-shape Puss in Boots or a “Xena: Warrior Princess” Fiona, the film let the character’s true self show through – and viewers recognize their old friends are just in a different shell. Unlike a lot of animated films, this series has been able to manage that right from the start (Fiona’s radical transformations in Shrek 2 (2004)), and they showcase that talent once again to wrap things up.

Oh, and that odd look that they gave Shrek in Shrek the Third (2007)? That’s gone, and instead viewers are left with a more normal-looking Shrek and pals, albeit much more detailed than they ever seemed to be previously. Thankfully, the rest of the special effects are right on par as well, and viewers will appreciate the solid animation as the film progresses.

A definite improvement over it’s predecessor, Shrek Forever After ends the series with the same solid mix of good storytelling, spot-on sense of humor and heart in which it began – and viewers will be glad to have gotten a chance to witness another laughter-filled adventure with Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and the rest.

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