Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shrek Forever After

You Got A Friend In Me, Again

It was 2001 since the first Shrek burst onto the screen, providing us a mean, grumpy and really green ogre as the reluctant hero counted on to save the day, and within this decade spawned a series of shorts, videos and even an amusement park feature. It's probably - and I say probably because box office receipts dictate whether another feature is worthwhile - the final chapter, and how gimmicky can it get to also jump onto the 3D bandwagon?

Some of you will already know I'm giving 3D films a miss because frankly, I need to conserve funds. Moreover, the downside of 3D films is already widely publicized, coupled with the cheater-bugs who convert 2D to 3D during post production which I say is a poor man's cousin of the real thing. Unless a film really warrants it, 2D in a digital format will suffice, and so Shrek Forever After falls into this category. Which I thought was still nicely done up since the film has no lack of animated detail, though I shudder to think that because of the plenty of dimly lit, night based scenes, that in 3D format it'll prove disastrous.

Anyway, Shrek as a trilogy worked, where we have our protagonists Shrek and Donkey fall in love (not with each other of course) and by the end of the third show, it's happy families all round. But profits dictate that another film be made, and Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke's story seemed to pull out the cheat sheet in now knowing how to move forward with the story, and hence, why not do a little time travel backwards cum alternate universe jig no thanks to the main villain Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohm) harbouring an opportunity to rule Far Far Away back in the first installment, if not for our hero's rescue of Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz).

The story taps on the mundane existence of our every day lives, devoid of adventure which Shrek (Mike Myers) yearns for, becomes something quite unbearable as he goes through the motions of a routine from dawn till dusk, having to perform the same chores all over again, listen to friends Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss (Antonio Banderas) recount their past adventures ad nauseam, and not having that all important personal Ogre time to relax in a mud pool, or have human beings tremble and run at the sight of him, becoming more of a celebrity hero instead.

The themes cannot find the leeway to break out of the formula of learning to appreciate what you have before they're lost, and what true love really means since destiny has it all planned out, no matter how meandering or different the journey now becomes. For Shrek fans, watching Shrek Forever After is like a test of your trivia knowledge, since events and characters start to turn up albeit differently from originally conceived, and fans will likely have a kick out of knowing intimate details on the differences between what's canon, and what has tangent off from the original.

As far as laughter and spoofs go, the film adopts a relatively darker mood and tone, with comedy being void of the physical approach, and the smart-alecky modern day references quite absent in this installment. The objective by director Mike Mitchell seems to be one of reinforcing the themes behind what Shrek and friends stand for, rather than to tell a tale of new adventures with new fairy tale characters. After all, this film is an attempt to milk the trilogy one last time through a rehash of premise and characters, so hopefully, Shrek the Ogre can finally find some much needed rest rather than to become a dead horse who's flogged way past its shelf life.

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