SHREK FOREVER AFTER
Shrek produced several sequels with Shrek 2 (2004) and Shrek the Third (2007). The original film felt like a breath of fresh air. It has an enormous degree of enthusiasm and fun to it and its humour felt naturalistic and warm. By even the first sequel, this had collapsed into self-congratulatory audience-winking. By the third film, everything that the first film had been was fed through the grindstone of modern movie marketing to become yet another formula kiddie franchise.
Shrek Forever After arrives on cinema screens feeling wholly unnecessary. I felt completely unenthused by any of the trailers or advance information. For one, it had a thoroughly lame concept any continuing series that is reduced to including scenarios where we meet different versions of the regular characters is by definition a series that has run out of original ideas. Secondly, Shrek Forever After was packaged as yet another animated film in the increasingly tiresome and unwelcome fad de annee of 3-D where films that were never designed as such see Alice in Wonderland (2010), Clash of the Titans (2010), The Last Airbender (2010) and My Soul to Take (2010) were offered up to audiences in the 3-D format in the hope that everybody was still so awe-struck after the success of Avatar (2009) that they would rush out and pay an extra three dollars per ticket without even thinking about what they are watching. Audiences are not that stupid and will eventually only prove that Real-D was a fad that caused the expensive retro-fitting of numerous theatres worldwide, only to see the potentially worthwhile process ground into tedium by people trying to jump aboard the trend and bilk audiences for more money with films that were not even designed as authentic 3-D. The sole novelty that Shrek Forever After offers is being the first 3-D film to fire a stream of urine into its audiences face (as Shrek changes one of his kids diapers), which is surely deservous of all the contempt it can be. In a refusal to encourage this fake retrofitting and overpriced gimmick, I waited several weeks after Shrek Forever Afters premiere until it wound its way to some of the cheaper theatres in town and could be seen flat. Even so, I still felt like it was a film that was designed with no more purpose than to steal $12 from each audience members hands and give back nothing at all.
Directed by Mike Mitchell who previously made such unexceptional live-action fare as Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo (1999), Surviving Christmas (2004), Sky High (2005) and the subsequent Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011), the live-action sequences in The Spongebob Movie: Out of Water (2015) and Trolls (2016), Shrek Forever After is about as processed a piece of sequel-generating as it is possible to get. The story is often contrived in order to get all the familiar figures into the story. Even when reunited, the characters go through tiresomely familiar routines and nothing new Donkey acts sassy and streetwise, Puss in Boots does his eye-widening thing again, Shrek is curmudgeonly but redeemed by his pure-hearted love of Fiona. Like the second film, Shrek Forever After is wall-to-wall with pop culture gags and in-references Star Tours of Shreks swamp, the palace turned into a witchs nightclub, while The Pied Piper has a setting on his flute that causes the witches to breakdance. The soundtrack is lazily full of pop tunes Im driving and Im in charge of the music, one of the witches complains as they drive the cart, whereupon we see Donkey pulling it and being forced to sing familiar tunes at whip point. There are tiresome cookie cutter action sequences with Shrek racing around the palace on a witchs broom and swinging a gigantic ball.
The plot is no more than a tedious rewrite of Its a Wonderful Life (1946) schmuck feels dissatisfied with his life, is granted the opportunity to enter a world where he was never born, is persuaded as a result of this to the conservative realisation that he needs to appreciate more the simple things that are under his nose (ie. the frequent fantasy theme that implies that any desire to change ones lot in life is hubris and brings unhappiness). Some of the films publicity called Shrek Forever After Shrek The Final Chapter. It is about the only thing that one can applaud about the film like star Mike Myers other series Austin Powers, it is one franchise that has well and truly been milked beyond the point of originality and reduced to a creative bleeding stone. All of that said, DreamWorks promptly announced a spinoff film with Puss in Boots (2011).