How many of us have thought about how things would be have turned out had we made a different choice? It’s a rhetorical question, of course — we all have at one time or another (you’re only lying to yourself if you say otherwise). And so, seeing as it makes a great plot (made famous via It’s a Wonderful Life), our favorite green ogre wonders aloud, in Shrek Forever After, how it would be to not live such a monotonously dull life and become the feared ogre of the swamp he once was.
Unfortunately for Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), Rumplestiltskin (voiced by Walt Dohn) is more than willing to make this alternate reality a reality and as soon as Shrek signs on the dotted line he is whisked away to a very different Far Far Away than he imagined (remember boys and girls, ALWAYS read the fine print). The land he finds himself in is policed by witches and is in a most decrepit state. And, if that wasn’t enough salt to rub in the wound, it is all ruled by — you guessed it — the mastermind behind it all, nasty Mr. ‘stiltskin himself! Rumplestiltskin, ain’t interested in relinquishing his new found power either, so he does whatever he has to do to ensure a “true love” kiss, the out clause in the contract, never happens between Shrek and Princess Fiona.
You’d think this shouldn’t be such a difficult thing to accomplish (even though we know it HAS to happen) since, even though the cast of characters in Shrek Forever After remains the same, they have changed. Considerably. Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) is now a fierce ogre warrior at night who, upon meeting Shrek, abhors him; Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) is a fat, uninspired cat; and Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) lives a life of hard labor and is deathly afraid of the big, green monstrosity who claims to be his best friend.
Aside from the scenario change, which frankly had to happen (what else was there to do with the franchise?), Shrek Forever After follows the same formula as its predecessors — keep the whole fairy tale thing edgy and hip with gross out gags, sarcastic puns and relevant pop culture jokes to keep all in attendance amused on some level. A great many of these “grown-up” sets miss the mark but a few of them really knock it out of the park. And of the ones that work, it’s all thanks to Puss in Boots and Donkey — if not for these two characters remaining fresh (Banderas’ and Murphy’s voices are perfect for these roles), this movie series would have lost its mojo long ago.
On the other end of the spectrum, it also uses the same “dated” animation as the previous installments too. It still looks impressive as hell, mind you, but with all the advancements in CGI since Shrek debuted in 2001, you’d think that the exterior could have gotten at least a spit shine. Sure, this installment comes with that nifty feature called 3D, but I’d recommend saving the extra cash for a box of Raisinettes since its implementation doesn’t add much to the feature (other than an inflated ticket price tag).
DreamWorks Animation claims Shrek Forever After is the final chapter in their highly successful franchise. Whether this is a true statement or not remains to be seen, however, as it stands now (i.e., this being the last film), it is good the lovable ogre went out on a relatively high note — too many times I’ve seen a studio run a well received character into the ground just to squeeze out a few dollars extra.