Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shrek Forever After (Single-Disc Edition) (2010)

Shrek Forever AfterIn the fourth and last installment of the Shrek franchise, Shrek (Mike Myers) finds himself becoming tired of his "domesticated" life when the routines of married life and fatherhood meet with the constant bombardment of fame and somewhat annoying friends. After storming out of his son's first birthday party Shrek runs into Rumplestiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who learns of Shrek's desires to be the ogre he once was and offers him a magical contract that would allow him to be an true ogre for a day, in exchange for one thing. In that exchange, though, Shrek gets much more than he bargained for.

When the first Shrek came out it was a brilliant anti-fairy tale fairy tale. Openly lampooning Disney movies and theme parks, Shrek was a fresh take on the animated fairy tale where the main characters didn't live happily ever after as picture perfect prince and princess, but as ogres, typically the scourge of any fairy tale. Since then two other Shrek movies have come out, and rather than embracing the counter culture of the first film, the franchise bought into it's own hype and into pop culture and lost the spirit of the original. While not bad films, they were unnecessary and even sapped some of the brilliance of the original. Now with the finale of Shrek in theaters, how does it stand up?

More-so than it's predecessors Shrek Forever After tries to come back home to more of the feeling of the first film. Even the plot of the film of Shrek's desire to go back to being a lone ogre on the outskirts of society seems to echo what the filmmakers were desiring to accomplish in picking a premise that allowed them to nearly replicate some of the situations of the first movie. That's one of the strengths of the film is that you get to re-meet the characters in a new fashion and in slightly new characterizations than previous which amps up the fun of this film compared to the previous films.

Reaching into an alternate universe has allowed the writers, and the actors, to revision the characters adding to the freshness of this installment in the series. Fiona is now a warrior, leading an ogre rebellion against the king. Donkey, while still the over talkative, funny if slightly annoying sidekick he's a little more wary and a bit brighter than he was in Shrek's real world. Puss has let himself go, and won't even chase a mouse that's sharing his milk. The real surprise here is Walt Dohrn, a writer/storyboard artist who makes his vocal film debut as the voice of the film's baddie, Rumplestiltskin. Everyone does a great job with their vocal work, but Walt and his character steal the show.

But for all the good, you can't go home, and Shrek doesn't quite go home either. Compared to the first film this one feels a little tame, sterile. First off, the premise makes this almost seem like a remake of the first film, causing it to loose some of it's freshness. On top of that there's a moral that really stands out, which is something I don't recall being aware of while watching the first three Shrek films, even though it was there.

All in all, I would highly recommend this film. Easily it's the second best of the four Shrek films. Each of the three sequels were unnecessary, but this was definitely a higher note to go out on than the last two films. If they had to go through sequels, I'm not sure they could have asked for a better film to go out on. If you've watched the last couple of Shrek films and found yourself to be disappointed give this a try, it doesn't quite capture the magic of the first film but it gets closer than the other sequels.


"Shrek Forever After" (if that is its real title) achieves exactly what it wanted to achieve simply by being a fun animated comedy with characters we've come to love. Still, for something so heavily promoted as being the final chapter, I'm surprised at how small and ordinary it seemed. Movies like this should end with a bang, emotionally and physically; they should not go from beginning to end on a slow and steady burn. By the end, most will feel as if they've been entertained. I felt that way. At the same time, some may feel that, in all likelihood, this movie didn't have to be made. I felt that way, too. Perhaps it's no longer a good sign that we can be so easily amused by unnecessary films. Are they no stories left to stimulate our imaginations and broaden our horizons at the same time?

In this film, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) finds that he's dissatisfied with his new life as a domestic ogre. As a husband and father, he has absolutely no free time. Villagers no longer fear him. He can't take a mud bath without being invaded by swamp tourists. Knowing he's desperate for a change, the disgruntled Rumpelstiltskin (voiced by Walt Dohrn) offers Shrek a chance live one day as his old ogre self. The catch, as I understand it, is that one day out of his past will be erased from time give a day to get a day, according to Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek agrees and signs a contract, although he fails to specify precisely which day he'll let Rumpelstiltskin have. Bad move; he's transported to an alternate Far Far Away that's ruled by Rumpelstiltskin and has fallen into ruin.

There are other changes. At Rumpelstiltskin's bidding, ogres are hunted by wicked witches and forced into slavery. Shrek's best friend, Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), now a lowly cart puller, has never met Shrek and is afraid of him. Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) is now an obese housecat and owned by Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), no longer Shrek's beloved wife and mother to his children but rather the iron-clad leader of an underground ogre resistance. Like Donkey, she has no idea who Shrek is. Stranger still, she's back under the curse that factored into the first film. In this new Far Far Away, it's as if Shrek had never been born. If he's to set everything right, he must turn to that most reliable of fairy-tale clichés: Receiving true love's kiss before the following sunrise.

What are Rumpelstiltskin's motives? I leave it to you to find out. I will say that his reasons are about as good as they can be for a fairy tale. I liked this character; big of ego and short of stature, he's villainous in a childish, sniveling sort of way, making for a great deal of fun when he loses his temper.

Many of the previous film's more memorable side characters are used far less frequently in "Shrek Forever After," making for a film that feels oddly condensed. The appearances of Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, and Gingy the Gingerbread Man, for example, are reduced to mere cameos, which is a missed opportunity for some great comedy. I'm especially fond of Gingy, with his iced legs and candy eyes and grating voice. In the alternate Far Far Away, he has become a battle-scarred gladiator who fights for the amusement of cheering crowds; the fact that his opponents are animal crackers and that he uses a broken lollipop as a weapon is, in my warped way of thinking, inherently funny. Maybe it's because foods of such childish innocence have become violent. Or maybe it has something to do Gingy being one tough cookie.

It seems that the film's biggest draw, aside from being the last in the series, is its release in 3-D. I've championed certain 3-D films (Disney's "A Christmas Carol," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Avatar"), but now that it's back in the mainstream, I'm coming to the realization that, generally speaking, it's an overrated marketing gimmick. For this particular film, I suggest you save your cash for a traditional (and less expensive) 2-D experience. I'm quite certain the overall quality will not be affected.

The bottom line: The story is funny and exciting and sweet, and I had a pleasant time watching it. But "Shrek Forever After" is not the grandiose finale the ads have claimed it to be, and I find that a little disappointing. My recommendation relates not to its worth as a successor to the previous "Shrek" films, or even to its status as the last in the series; it relates to the belief that audiences will enjoy it on its own terms. It's a light, good-hearted animated comedy, and as such films go, it gets the job done. I can only hope the filmmakers don't treat it like a horror franchise, some of which are known to produce sequels even after a "final chapter" has been released. At that point, I don't think there will anything good left to say about Shrek and his magical misadventures.

Buy Shrek Forever After (Single-Disc Edition) (2010) Now

I have always enjoyed watching the Shrek movies with my family. The fourth movie was no exception. The problem is that the Shrek universe it getting rather stale. The same type of jokes just don't work as well the fourth time around. The Final Chapter finds Shrek unhappy with his friends and family and wishing to go back to being a scary ogre for just one day which can be supplied by an evil Rupelstiltskin. But if you are aware of the myth of Rupelstiltskin you know that every contract has a price. Shrek gives up one day of his life to get his one day of freedom. That one day though causes the entire world to change and Shrek is stuck in an alternate universe in which he never existed. The alternate characters are fun at first, especially the chubby Puss in Boots, but they all revert quickly to the characters you know so it doesn't work all that well. The best part of the movie is the introduction of the Rupelstiltskin character who is a fun bad guy. The movie's plot however is very similar to the Christmas Special in which Shrek doesn't appreciate what he has until it is gone. I like the series, but the story is best to end now.

Read Best Reviews of Shrek Forever After (Single-Disc Edition) (2010) Here

Dreamworks continues its popular, yet waning Shrek franchise with a fourth installment. I've always been a big fan of the original Shrek. It was something different, quirky, unexpected and just downright witty. The plot was simple yet complex enough to keep me interested while poking fun at traditional fairy tales. It was an innovative and fun concept. Sadly, the franchise continued past the first film into a second and third. Each of these entries were okay, but never captured the greatness of the first Shrek film. With the fourth entry into the series, it becomes even more apparent that the franchise is getting tired. Shrek's running out of steam and just doesn't have it anymore. It's time for our dear ogre friend to retire.

Shrek Forever After semi-follows the traditional "what if I was never born" plot. When Shrek finds that he misses his days as an ogre, he makes a deal with the notorious Rumpelstiltskin to trade a day in his life for a day to be an ogre again. Rumpelstiltskin, of course, tricks Shrek and takes the day Shrek was born, thereby creating an alternate universe where he rules Far Far Away, ogres are outlaws, and Fiona was never rescued from the tower by Shrek. Shrek soon discovers his mistake and must figure out how to get things back to normal.

On one hand it was really fun to see the beloved Shrek characters in the alternate universe -Fiona is the leader of the ogre resistance against Rumpelstiltskin, Donkey works any job he can get, and Puss has become an overweight lap cat. On the other hand, the concept felt tired and much of the plot seemed like a retread of previous ideas, themes and events. Mostly, it seemed redundant to have Shrek win Fiona's love again and really showed that our poor ogre really doesn't have much plot left in him.

In general the movie is entertaining, funny and enjoyable -great for families, but the 3-D aspect doesn't really add much. I'd suggest saving the extra money and just going for this movie in traditional 2-D. It was still fun to get another glimpse into the lives of these fun characters and into the wacky world of Far Far Away, but I think it's time to hang up your torches and pitchforks and call it a day.

Want Shrek Forever After (Single-Disc Edition) (2010) Discount?

This fourth intallment of Shrek, SHREK FOREVER AFTER, is, IMHO, the best of the Shrek films. The fun is back (minus the juvenile potty humor that invaded the 2nd and 3rd films), the story is delightful, and the message is clear. My kids (13 1/2 and 5 1/2) both loved this movie, as did my husband and I.

SHREK FOREVER AFTER is based losely on the story from "It's A Wonderful Life." Here, we find that our favorite ogre is confused by his new role in the kingdom. He used to live a solitary life, scaring people and doing whatever he felt like doing; now he has a family, responsibilities, and is viewed as a folk hero. In a fit of frustration, Shrek wishes that he could be a regular ogre and live his former life, just for a day. Rumplestiltskin overhears his wish and tricks Shrek into trading his "ogre day" for the day he was born. Shrek finds that he never rescued Fiona, he never had a family, never met his friends, and that he will diappear at the end of his ogre day. But there is a way out of his contract with Rumplestiltskin. Can true love still conquer all and save the day?

SHREK FOREVER AFTER is cute, fun, and charming family entertainment. The animation is beautiful, vibrant, and vivid, the story is engaging, and all our favorite voice actors are back. The message of being happy with what you have is perfect, and is understood by children of all ages.

SHREK FOREVER AFTER has heart, and should not be missed. If this is the final installment, then SHREK FOREVER AFTER is truly the perfect way to end the franchise.

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