Shrek is a bit tired of family life and the routine and while he loves his family he needs a bit of a break. Enter Rumpelstiltskin, after a failed attempt to swindle Far, Far, Away from Fiona’s parents around the time Shrek saved her from her tower. Stiltskin just so happens to roll up on an angry Shrek and offers him a day in the life of the good ole days in return from one day in Shrek’s childhood. Shrek is whisked away through space and time and ends up in a world where he never existed and Stiltskin is in charge of Far, Far, Away; as Shrek wasn’t born and in turn could never save Fiona.
Obviously, Shrek must track down Fiona and get his life back from Rumpelstiltskin and his path and arc as he comes to grips with what he is losing in the real world has a nice punch of poignancy and heart. In fact, the early scenes are well played and inspired storytelling that sucks you in and reconnects you to these characters that are admittedly easy to love. The added spin on the re-courting of Shrek and Fiona gives the film enough of an original spin that as they retread similar troupes and themes you don’t mind all that much.
Like I mentioned earlier the attempts to use pop music for humor fails at every turn and of the seemingly endless string of pop songs they use, only a couple don’t feel woefully out of place. Other than this I don’t have too many complaints, but it would have been nice to have a bit more originality in the picture. The 3-D worked quite well, and while a couple scenes were a tad contrived to utilize the 3-D, the finale uses it to great effect and DreamWorks is quickly showing they know what they are doing with this 3-D stuff. It might not match the amazing moments in How to Train Your Dragon, but Shrek Forever After definitely trumps every other 3-D effort besides Coraline, Avatar, and the afore mentioned Dragon.
The action in the film is also where most of the films creativity comes into play and while a scene might seem like it is there strictly for the use of 3-D the animation team more than makes it interesting. The finale actually is quite the action spectacle with all hell breaking loose and a creative fight for or heroes to get out of. The ending even managed to have an emotional effect on me as I was happy to see these great characters get an ending they deserve.
The voice work in the film is solid and as good as one can expect as it should be old hat to most of these guys who have been around for multiple films. John Hamm and Craig Robinson supply some nice humor to the ogre clan, but Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin really brings the weird. Beyond his voice, Dohrn creates an odd and bizarre villain that while never menacing is off beat enough to keep us on guard while we can still laugh at him, good work all around by him.
In the end, Shrek Forever After is a solid sequel and learns from the many pitfalls of the previous Shrek effort. While things feel familiar at times there is enough new to enjoy and plenty of fun action to get wrapped up in. I really hope this is the end of the Shrek series, the universe will be revisited in Puss in Boots, as I think the film is a solid a fitting end to the series. The 3-D is worth your dime as well as this is one of the best uses of the technology so far though the heart and story the picture evokes through its characters is the real worthy price of your admission.
Shrek Forever After is a B