Versus #2: Shrek Forever After

Posted by Nick in Movies, Reviews on July 30th, 2010.

It’s Shrek time. Kilian and I will take a look at the latest Shrek installment.

Nick: Shrek and Shrek 2 are movies I need to revisit. I never liked any of those really, not to the point most people did. Since there is so much love for Shrek, I’m really wondering what I missed.

I did see Shrek Forever After recently and to be honest, I didn’t expect much. Most movies that go beyond three sequels are just unwatchable. I was pleasantly surprised that this move made me laugh quite a few times. Donkey and Puss, who is obesed, are a joy to watch, Shrek, unfortunately, is not all that much fun.
Shrek is unhappy with his life and wants to go back to the time when he was a mean ogre and everyone was afraid of him. Luckily he meets Rumpelstiltskin who tricks a mid-life crisis burdened Shrek into allowing himself to be erased from existence and cast in a dark alternate timeline where Rumpel rules supreme. Guess what, Shrek gets into a terrible nightmare and he would do everything to get things back to normal. What do we learn from this movie? One only knows what he has, if he loses it all. Have we seen this before? I’m sure a 12-year without much movie going experience would definately agree. This idea sums up my feelings about this movie. There is very little new "information" to gain from this experience.

The supporting characters are really the reason to go see this movie, if you are going to see it at all. They really carry this movie. The story is kind of lame and the formula just doesn’t work anymore. Who wants to see a movie build around an old cliche? The 3D on the other was quite nice, though nothing to write home about. It’s just what it is. Overall, I did enjoy this movie a little bit, since there wasn’t anything painfull about it, it’s just old stuff rehashed.

Kilian: I completely agree with you on this one.

I loved the first Shrek, and the second one was better (due to the introduction of Puss). The third Shrek however was a huge mess (that’s what I remembered of it…) and when I found out Dreamworks was making a fourth one, I really dreaded the result.

Shrek never was about difficult plots or epic life questions that needed to be answered. Shrek was about plain, often not so sophisticated, fun. The Ogres were present for the fart humour, and Puss and Donkey were there for the more hilarious jokes. This "formula" is back in the fourth movie, and it succeeds better than the third one in delivering the fun to balance out for the poor story. It isn’t however better than the first two Shreks.

Why is this anyway? Because Toy Story’s third offering was the best in the series?
Probably because the characters or the Shrek universe don’t lend themselves for any deeper stories or emotional developments. The first two movies had the novelty of a princess becoming an ogre, and seeing how the princess (first movie) and her parents (second movie) deal with that. Also the creators had the huge realm of the fairytale kingdom to draw from, which of course worked with characters like the three pigs and puss (and in the last offering Rumpelstiltskin, who IS a great character).
The problem with this is, that to create a lot of succesful sequels, you need new emotional subjects. Shreks personality however could only deal with the more obvious problems in life, the problem of appreciating what you have in this movie, and the movie can’t bring anything new to it.
Where Pixar uses their newly created characters (cars/robots/toys/rat/kid) to look at the adult world and the world in general from a different perspective, Shrek is stuck in the normal perspective, and therefore cannot add anything new.
Also all the parodies on fairytales, that are admittedly funny, can’t add anymore than fun to the story.

How do you look at this problem?

Nick: Well, it isn’t so much that Shrek or the Shrek universe do not lend themselves for any deeper stories or emotional developments, it’s just that the people behind this movie are just lazy. Look at Pixar and Toy Story 3. Pixar brings actually something new to the table, themes that didn’t occur in the first two movies. Shreks works on one level only: take some fairy tale cliche and put it into the green world. There is very little larger than life. There are so many things they could have touched on, but they just didn’t. There is no excuse. Sure, they could have made something more elaborate and more emotional involving, but that would have been too difficult. Besides, they know that someone is going to see whatever Shrek movie coms out, no matter how lame it is. I think that hardcore animation fans are done with Shrek anyway.

I guess to some it up, it was okay, I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. I enjoyed it a bit, Puss and Donkey are quite funny and they make up for the simple plot. If you’ve seen the other movies, you might as well watch this one as well. I’d give it a 6/10.

Kilian: I actually can’t add anything to this…

The movie was better than Shrek 3, and it had Weezer in the soundtrack so I give it a 6/10 as well.

Leave a Reply