Shrek Forever After is the final chapter in the very popular and well known Shrek series. In my opinion, ever since the first Shrek, the films have been going downhill. The first Shrek was great, and a movie I truly loved. The second and third Shrek films were considerably less enjoyable, thus, I did not have high hopes for Shrek Forever After.
The question that remains is, were the cast and crew of this once beloved franchise able to pull it together for this final farewell to the series? Or does Shrek Forever After get buried in the swamp?
Shrek Forever After sees our protagonist, Shrek living the family life in the land of Far Far Away. Taking care of Fiona and the children is Shrek’s number one job these days. Gone are Shrek’s scary ogre persona and instead of scaring villagers away, he finds himself signing autographs for them. As the family duties build up, and Shrek sees the people around him not reacting the same way towards him as they did before, he starts to long for the days where he felt like a “true ogre”.
Seeing Shrek in this vulnerable state, Rumpelstiltsken, a conniving and cunning deal maker, takes advantage of Shrek and sneakily convinces the ogre to sign an agreement. The agreement lets Shrek go back to a time where he was a real ogre and his adventures never happened. In exchange for this, Shrek must give one day of his childhood to Rumpelstiltsken, the day he gives up is the day he was born. Due to this, Shrek technically never existed and therefore he finds himself in an alternate reality of Far Far Away where everything is twisted. It is here that Shrek begins to realize he has made a terrible mistake by signing this deal. This is where our adventure begins.
On the ranking scale, while Shrek Forever After is nowhere near as good as the original, I did enjoy it more than the third film. Shrek Forever After is like an old car, running on its last breath. The series is becoming tired. It shows signs of old age throughout the film. Good thing this is the last Shrek film because the series is ready to end.
It tries to entertain us and send us away with good memories of everyone’s favorite green ogre, but ultimately it gives out in the end and leaves us disappointed and underwhelmed. Adding to the frustration is the 3D. Shrek Forever After is being shown in 3D and like most 3D films that have come out recently, the 3D does absolutely nothing for the movie. Part of the problem is the dark color palette used for the film. It is obvious this was used to tie in with the darker, more sinister feeling of this twisted, alternate universe. The dark tones leave little to be desired in the 3D effects. There are not many eye popping colorful scenes that will dazzle you like there were in Avatar and none of the 3D effects really do anything at all to enhance the film.
The film was clearly made for the fans, going into this film without having seen any Shrek films will just serve as a disservice to yourself. The inside jokes that only Shrek fans will understand pop up everywhere and all the fan favorites show up in this desolated version of Far Far Away. We see the return of the Gingerbread Man, Puss, the Three Pigs etc.
Part of the reason that Shrek Forever After does work on some level is because of the premise. Fans get to see their favorite characters, in a familiar location, but in an alternate reality. Reminiscent of the recent Star Trek reboot, there is a certain intrigue in seeing what all our favorite characters are up to in this alternate take on the Shrek universe.
The film has also switched gears by turning itself into a more adult oriented film. Out of all the films in the Shrek series this is surely the least child oriented. Not to say that kids won’t enjoy it, but it is clear, that writers Klausner and Lemke are hoping to hit the more mature funny bones in the audience in hopes of laughter.
Speaking of laughter, there is not much to be found in Shrek Forever After. While you may find yourself laugh out loud at two or three parts, there is not enough to carry the film. I laughed out loud maybe twice in the entire film, and the laughs the movie did provoke from me were considerably less than side splitting.
The jokes that are here are simply not as funny as with previous entries and they feel forced. Through the humor, we can see this franchise is fizzling out. Donkey, while a great character, can only remain funny for so long, and honestly, how many times have they used the “Pinocchio just lied and now his nose grew” gag? I mean a lot of the stuff, while maybe funny the first time, is tirelessly rehashed in a last ‘hurrah’ by the writers to evoke laughter from the audience.
Aside from the forced laughter, the narrative also gives way to its shaky legs as the story starts to fall apart near the end. With scenes like the “ogre dance” scene, and others, it is visible that there really is nothing more they can do with the series. Shrek, while once a great franchise, has sang its last song.
As with the previous three entries in the series, Shrek Forever After boasts a great soundtrack. Using well known songs, the music is is often used to boost comic effect and does work in this regard.
The voice acting is pretty well done and doesn’t disappoint. All the characters are infused with wit and personality and are all likeable. Of course, as per usual, Donkey and Puss (Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas) steal the show, but the others do a good job as well. The addition of Glee’s Jane Lynch and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm don’t do much for the film but are welcome nonetheless.
When all is said and done, and when Shrek has given his last roar, the film amounts to nothing more than a valiant effort to redeem glory to the ogre who once stole our hearts. Shrek Forever After isn’t terrible, it’s not even bad, it’s just mediocre. Mediocrity rears its ugly head in almost every aspect of the film. It’s a shame we had to say goodbye like this, gone are the magic and charm that captured our hearts in the first one, but everything has to come to an end eventually. At least Shrek Forever After was better than the previous entry in the series. Here’s looking forward to the recently announced ‘Puss’ spin off.
Shrek Forever After is a very mediocre affair, with crummy 3D and a real lack of laughs.