Sunday, 20 June 2010

Cinema Review: Shrek Forever After

Dreamworks' animation spin-off company Dreamworks Animation opened it's doors in 2004, so far releasing thirteen computer-animated films. Undoubtedly competing with the brilliance of Pixar, Dreamworks are often a hit-and-miss. Smashing with films such as How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda, but tragically falling flat with Shark Tale. Still, this year sees the return of our favourite, now jolly, green ogre in the third, and final, sequel, Shrek Forever After.

Married to the once-cursed Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and a father to three troublesome mini ogres, Shrek is ashamed to admit he wants more. His days are full of taking care of the children, maintaining the house his family resides in and overall pleasing those around him. The once feared ogre has grown into an everyday man - something which Shrek doesn't like. Stumbling into the devious Rumplestiltskin, his infamous contracts become increasingly apparent to Shrek once he unwittingly signs away the day he was born to relive his glory days, awaking to a disgruntled world. No children; no friends; and Fiona, an unloved, now-turned warrior, leading the resistance against Rumple and his evil band of witches.

Thriving on the uniquely plotted storylines, the classic fairytales are once again spun on their side, providing an undeniably fascinating, and more entertaining, look into the lives of the characters after the inevitable 'Happily Ever After'. The vibrantly cast of characters - voiced primarily by Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas - all join vocals once again in a film which technically retreads the plot of the first which captivated audiences worldwide back in 2001. Similar situations/places will hit you like a ton of bricks, but everything is revamped -- beginning with Shrek disregarding Fiona's need for a saviour and her one true love --, therefore working as a catalyst in the upheave of advertently inspirational events which unravel and progress throughout.

Adding to the villainous cast of characters is Rumplestiltskin (Walt Dohrn). While the writing doesn't equal to the likes of Lord Farquad or Fairy Godmother, he remains persistently scheming; a perfectly detestable, sly and wily man with certain repugnance that will unarguably feel mutual throughout audiences. Still, like the previous foes, the comedic principle isn't absent. Rumple's need to vary his wigs to match his mood is genius, and Dohrn's crafty tone is a match made in heaven; one of the film's many highlights is the talanted Dohrn, working on the acclaimed franchise since the first sequel in various departments.

Consistently - and rather astonishingly - moving, writers John Klausner (Shrek the Third, Date Night) and Darren Lemke work tremendously in capturing the essence of Shrek's earlier adventures, but flourish with adding an entirely new element containing a surprisingly deep message of unappreciating those which are most important in life, and only appreciating such things once they're non-existent. A message which, unfortunately, may not provide the desired effect with the younger audience, but those who have fallen prey to such problems will feel an instant connection.

Franchise regulars Donkey (Murphy) and an overly-obese Puss-in-Boots (Banderas) are on top form, provided with some of the most explosively funny one-liners in the film, and Fiona -- now a fully-fledged badass -- is equally as enjoyable, written wonderfully with our hero. It still astounds me how two computer-animated characters can sometimes contain more chemistry than two real-life actors.

While Shrek Forever After may be no competition for Pixar's Toy Story 3 this summer, it's an almost perfect conclusion to a much-loved franchise (bar the painfully dire third entry), bidding farewell to the characters which have defined a new generation of fairytales. Ending on a particular high note, this final chapter is both memorable and respectful of the originals which planted it firmly in animated history. What are you having in the morning? Waffles, of course.


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