FILM REVIEW Shrek Forever After
And now, the end is near…
U * 93 mins * 2 July 2010
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Mike Mitchell
Cast: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Walt Dohrn
Like a pilot pulling a plane out of a nosedive at the last minute, this fourth entry in the franchise represents the filmmakers dragging DreamWorks’s most famous character back from the lows of Shrek The Third.
Forever After works because it gets back to the core concept of Shrek – the ogre figuring out some big personal issue, while the world around him erupts in a series of clever gags. This time around, he’s feeling fenced in by his life as a husband and father, itching to be a proper ogre again – more terrifying beast than tourist trap. So he ends up signing a deal with impish magic-maker Rumpelstiltskin to turn back the clock for a day, without realising he’s been tricked. He discovers he’s in an alternate universe where he never existed, and Rumpel is king.
The parallel world idea might be a bit of a head-scratcher for younger tykes, though given that Doctor Who does that and more on a regular basis, you’d hope that all but the tiniest would be fully prepared for such things. It allows the writers to pump up the stakes while resetting the template. We’re following a Shrek who’s trying to win over the woman he knows is his true love, but in this reality she’s the leader of rebel ogres trying to take back Far Far Away, and has no idea who he is.
Sidekicks Donkey and Puss In Boots, meanwhile, do what they do best – keeping the laughs coming, though their screen time is more limited than in previous sequels. Trimming the fat actually helps rather than hurts, as you appreciate them more in smaller doses. Diaz is still the weak link, as her vocal performance remains fairly standard work, but at least Fiona gets to kick ass once more.
It might not hit the highs of the original, but the characters are key again, the pop cultural references are toned down, the jokes are fast and funny, and the 3D never resorts to cheap tricks. What more could you wish for from the final chapter?