May 24, 2010

[Movies] Shrek Forever After (2010)

Shrek Forever After (2010)As bad as sequels are in general, animated sequels tend to be major tankers in terms of a film studio's budget. Animated movies that act as sequels tend to get released directly to video instead of having a big screen release like all the others, something we get a lot from the likes of Disney.

The the pattern remains - with every additional sequel, we find ourselves scratching our heads in terms of trying to figure out why the heck did they decide to add another chapter to the story. Naturally the studios want to just push potential ticket sales and generally just generate more revenue.

It's only in recent times that certain animated movies manage to break the mold and release their sequels in theaters. Of course it's not your traditional Disney tripe productions but more the kind of animated features that target both young and old markets. I guess that tends to up their market value and thus their subscriber / viewer base and thus they feel a theatrical release is a bit enough risk given their revenue goals. Ugh, this is starting to sound too technical somehow.

Shrek Forever After is the fourth and supposedly last movie following the crazy adventures of the ogre Shrek (Mike Myers), his ogre wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their three lovely ogre children. Yes, for those who came 9 years too late, this is a CGI-animated movie where the protagonists are ogres. After all the ups and downs of the past movies, Shrek has now settled down into a comfy routine life filled with time for the babies, keeping their home in the swamp operating and the eventual play dates with the half-donkey, half-dragon babies of, well, Donkey and a female dragon, haha. But this is not the life of an ogre and soon Shrek begins to long for his past life as a monster and how much simpler things were.

He eventually crosses paths with the ever clever Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who offers Shrek exactly what he wants - a contract that allows him to live a single day as if it was like the old days as a monstrous ogre feared by all. While Rumplestilskin asks for something in exchange, in this case a "random" day from Shrek's childhood, Shrek eventually agrees to things and thus the story begins. The world gets stripped away and Shrek finds himself in an alternate reality where Ogres are still hunted and feared, Rumpelstiltskin is king and no one seems to remember who Shrek is.

As the last movie in the Shrek franchise, there were a lot of promises of this somehow tying up the entire run, and I think I saw that to some extent. Certainly we got to see a number of past characters but their participation in the movie was somewhat minimal. This may not be too much of a bad thing since the past movies got a little distracted in that regard and we lost track of the more important things. This movie felt a lot more focused on the core cast and given the whole alternate universe angle allowed us to take the story back to its roots.

Sure the parallelisms between the first movie and the last are pretty obvious, I felt they were very timely and well done. I'm not sure if this really tied things up since it would have been to capture other major characters like Prince Charming and Arhur from the third movie. The movie was a bit heavy-handed in terms of its message / moral this time around, but of course that's understandable given the history of these films.

But at least the movie was funny, and that's what really matters. Whether or not you take it as a sequel and instead think of it as a standalone movie, the humor really works. Call me shallow, but I'll never get the term "ri-donk-ulous" out of my head, hehe. And that's the best reason to go see the movie - to enjoy yourself for an afternoon and laugh your head off.

Best moments include (1) who wicked it is to see all those witches flying around, (2) how effective Rumpelstiltskin was as a "villain" of sorts, (3) and the better use of 3D this time around. Most movies tend to limit their 3D use to giving depth to the environment but forget how blatant 3D use was in the beginning for campy moments of objects leaping out of the screen towards the audience. This sequel had a lot of moments like that which were a LOT of fun. I mean come on, that's what we're supposed to do with 3D!

While we're sure to see more of Puss in Boots in the future, it's sort of good to know that they've finally decided to wrap up the Shrek franchise to keep things fresh. As much as I've enjoyed these movies, there is the principle that too much of a good thing can be bad. Thanks for the good laughs Shrek.

Shrek Forever After was an entertaining way to end the series and a good use of the 3D medium for campy gimmicks. It gets 3.5 origami contracts out of 5.

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