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Shrek Forever After
What the Shrek Just Happened?
Once upon a time in the land of Far Far Away, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) was cursed since birth. As the legend foretold: "By night one day. By day another. This shall be the norm, until true love's first kiss you shall take true love's true form." Her parents unsure of what to do with her predicament, locked her away inside a tower guarded by a fierce fire breathing dragon. With every pursuer dying in their feeble attempt to rescue the poor damsel in distress. That is until the mighty ogre, Shrek (Mike Myers), rescued the princess along with his faithful but annoying friend, Donkey (Eddie Murphy). And they lived happily ever after.....or did they?
It has been several years since Shrek and Fiona married each other, and raised three beautiful ogre babies together. However, it seems Shrek misses his old bachelor life, as he's now stuck in a typical routine marriage full of responsibilities. Kind of similar to how Bob Parr felt about his life when having to give up being a super hero to become a full time normal working dad, in "The Incredibles." Needless to say with Shrek's life turning tragically routine everyday, and becoming a public spectacle, as he's now a celebrity within the fairy tale community. After all, he was once king of Far Far Away in the last movie. Thus, Shrek is now not only having to deal with the responsibilities of fatherhood, but he's having to deal with celebrity status as well. Something that makes Shrek yearn for the days when he felt like a real ogre, as even some of the villagers claim he's not even a real ogre anymore due to no longer striking fear into others. Indeed, Shrek isn't happy with his life anymore, and it is at this point he meets a man by the name of Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn).
Like all stories about this devious character, Rumpelstiltskin is a bit of a con artist, who preys upon those when they are at their weakest. Swindling people into deals that may seem heavenly at first, but are nothing more than generic scams. Sadly, Shrek gets swindled by this little man, as he tricks him into signing a contract that would allow Shrek to live like a real ogre again for one whole day. Where people would fear and hate him again whenever he roared, instead of applauding and laughing. What's the catch you ask? Why it's simple as quoted by Rumpelstiltskin, "You have to give a day to get a day." Basically meaning in order for Shrek to have this full day of living like a free ogre again, then he must give up one day of his life. At Rumpelstiltskin's suggestion, Shrek gives up one of his days as a baby. After all, nobody ever remembers those days when they're that young, so what's the harm? Unless Rumpelstiltskin decided to take the day Shrek was born. Thus, once his contract is up and since he was never technically born now, then Shrek will fade away into nothingness, and the contract is the only thing keeping him alive. Unfortunately, Shrek finds this new parallel world to be disturbing, as it seems his presence not only effected Fiona's life, but the entire kingdom's as well. Virtually finding out how the world would be if he was never born. A bit reminiscent of "It's a Wonderful Life" if you ask me, as Shrek realizes his life was fine just the way it was until he wished it all away.
However, like all of Rumpelstiltskin's contracts there's always an escape clause. What could it be, one has to wonder. Shrek only has one day to not only find out what it is, but he has to do it before the day is up, in order to restore reality back to the way it was before.
Indeed, Shrek has been through a lot in this franchise. Taking on such nefarious villains like the stuck up jerk, Prince Farquad (Jon Lithgow), to the evil and conniving fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders). Then it seems this fairy tale story was starting to lose a bit of it's edge when he took on the vain and narcissistic Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). Which leads us to this new chapter, within the Shrek franchise.
I'll be honest, I loved the original Shrek movie. Sure, it was predictable and a bit cliched at times, but it had a wonderful story along with a very unlikely hero and villain. Showing children that real beauty comes from within, as even an ogre can turn out to be a hero. Or even a prince can turn out to be nothing more than a mean and vain person. "Shrek" was a great non traditional fairy tale. Sadly, like all sequels for family films, the story content started to become watered down as the same tired story lines would find themselves recycled and often retreaded. Sure, I'll admit "Shrek 2" was funnier than the first movie, but the story was generically the same just with different scenarios and a bigger supporting cast. As Shrek would have to again save Fiona from the wrath of having to possibly marry some stuck up Prince while saving the kingdom of Far Far Away.
Don't even get me started on "Shrek the Third", as it did have it's moments, but the story came off too much as an after school special about not judging others based on their appearance or social status. Which is kind of funny, since the last two films basically retreaded over that same concept but only a helluva a lot better. Indeed, like Stallone's "Rocky" franchise, each sequel to Shrek seemed to just recycle the same formula over and over again. Rocky recycling the old tired formula of the classic underdog story defying the odds. While the "Shrek" series kept to it's old strategy of constantly telling kids, "it's not about who you are on the outside that matters, but it's how you are on the inside that counts." Needless to say as much as I loved both movie series, I think both franchises would've been better off just ending it after the first movie. After all, none of the sequels ever matched the originals heart and originality content. However like "Rocky Balboa", I thought "Shrek Forever After" managed to recapture some of the lost mystique of the original film.
Sure, "Shrek Forever After" may not be as deep or as clever as the original movie, but it has heart and originality that wasn't present in the previous sequels. Unlike the other sequels where it just retreaded the whole concept of inner beauty versus outer beauty, this movie offers a different approach to the franchise. No, taking a bit of inspiration from Frank Capra's classic, "It's a Wonderful Life", where Shrek becomes so bogged down with the responsibilities and troubles of his normal life, that he forgets how truly blessed he his. To not only have a family that loves him, but a group of friends that adore him as well. Funny on how we never realize what we truly have until it's gone, huh? On that note, I do like the concept of this movie, as it finally shows a new concept to the story that was absent in it's sequels.
Sure, like all animated kid films today, you know exactly how this story is going to turn out. In fact, you'd have to be a complete imbecile not to be able to tell how the story is going to end, but it does carry lot heart and some of the humor that made the "Shrek" series one of the best animated franchises ever made.
The visuals for this movie were still amazing. Plus, the added "3-D" effect does nothing but truly enhance the beauty of this magical fairy tale world. Making the viewer feel immersed into it's beautiful and heartfelt story.
Sure, "Shrek Forever After" may not be as great as the original, but it's certainly better than the other sequels. Like all fairy tales, this story does end happily ever after, but it's certainly not in the traditional old fashioned way, as I'm sure most audiences will appreciate that. Which is something original to the fairy tale concept, very much like the first film. For those true Shrek fans out there, "Shrek Forever After" is definitely worth checking out.