So much for third time lucky - the Shrek Franchise has stepped it up a notch from its humdrum predecessor. With mesmerizing 3D effects and subversive script, it is impossible not to be captivated by the fourth offering from DreamWorks productions.
In an attempt to become a real ogre again a vulnerable and naïve Shrek (Myers) signs an illusive contract with evil magician Rumpelstiltskin (Dohrn), allowing him one day to go back to his life as an intimidating, haughty mud dweller with an almighty roar. Needless to say, Shrek is in swampy ground as his plan backfires leaving him far far away from his family and in desperate need for some more time to break the contract.
Before you can say waffle eating donkey, the bright fantasy which so many of us love goes dark. The forest becomes a menacing place full of flying witches and cronies of whig wearing Rumpelstiltskin sent to seize Shrek. A Pied Pieper emerges making a spellbinding debut, without ever uttering a word. The directors have stepped outside their comfort zone and put great faith in their audience.
Through a rollercoaster of emotions Shrek not only struggles to find his wife (Diaz) and children, but also inner happiness. To aid this mission we are reunited with the hilarious and adorable Donkey (Murphy) and a rather plumper and less nimble Puss in Boots (Banderas) who never ceases to provide a giggle or two. The duo remain two of the most endearing and engaging characters in the realm of animation. Although the Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon, a co-director of Shrek 2) temporarily steals the show with his miniscule role as a gladiator fighting animal crackers making for a delicious gag.
Due to Shrek’s (non) existence, Fiona had to rescue herself from the tower and now clad in armor and sporting some fierce weaponry, she is the leader of the underground ogre resistance against leprechaun looking Rumpel and his witches. The only way Shrek can defeat the villain, restore his life, save Far Far Away and get his family back is to find one thing by sunrise. You guessed it: true love’s kiss. But we must hand it to the script writers, this new approach of a feminist and fiery princess-turned-ogre is quite refreshing from the typical heroic stunts of Shrek.
Have we heard some of this before? Sure. But as with the best fairy tales - the ones that bear repeating again and again - the enchantment in Shrek Forever After is not in the tale but in the telling. All in all it’s a decent adventure that will hold the kids' interest while chucking a few identifiable references toward their folks. Shrek and his crew are some of the most memorable animated creations of recent years. A decade since the first screening of Shrek in 2001, it’s about time everyone lives happily ever after (again).