Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.
Shrek Forever After was a decent film that was made better by seeing it in (fake) IMAX 3D.
Shrek is getting a little tired of his 'normal' life and dreams of a time when he was the most feared ogre in the world. Rumpelstiltskin, whose magical contracts have fallen out of favor with the realm, stumbles upon Shrek and offers him a deal - Shrek gets one day to be the bad-ass he wants to be, while Rumpelstiltskin gets one day from Shrek's life. Shrek immediately agrees, only to find himself in a world where he no longer has any friends and more importantly, Fiona has no idea who he is. And in this world, Rumpelstiltskin is the King. If Shrek doesn't get true love's kiss by the time the sun rises the following day, he'll never be able to get back to his real life, and he'll disappear forever.
After the debacle that was Shrek the Third, I wasn't really looking forward to Shrek Forever After. To me, the studio took all the goodwill from the first two movies and buried it with the third. I was hoping they'd make a comeback with the fourth, just so we could have some closure to the Shrek saga, but alas... other than some fun 3D effects, the final chapter was just ho-hum. Here's what I realized during the movie - Shrek isn't a fun character. He complains a lot, gets grumpy, then turns into a softie and saves the day. But he isn't funny. Funny thins happen to him. Funny things happen around him. But he is rarely funny. It's the supporting cast that really makes the movie entertaining, so when you have a plot that's centered around Shrek needing to get Fiona to fall in love with him... well, you have a decent movie that wasn't that funny.
Now, when Donkey or Puss-in-Boots show up, or even the tertiary characters like Gingerbread Man, then the movie gets funny. Once again the dynamic duo of Donkey and Puss completely stole the movie every scene they were in. I think that's why I'm looking forward to the upcoming Puss-in-Boots movie, and hoping they spin off Donkey as well. They're the true comedic talents in the film, while Shrek is just the straight man. Straight ogre. This time around you also had the miniature Rumpelstiltskin as the evil doer and even he was more entertaining than Shrek. True, a lot of it was because he was short, and therefore comical as he tries to be intimidating, but the character was new to the Shrek family and in this case different is better. Gingerbread Man and those characters really took a backseat this time around and were rarely shown, but were fun when they did show up.
I saw this movie on the new (fake) IMAX screens they have around the country. For those of you who don't know, the IMAX screens we're used to are these gigantic screens where you have to sit all the way in the back of the theater to get the full impression. These new IMAX screens are slightly larger than regular movie screens (here's a good article comparing the old and new IMAX screens). That being said, the screen quality is definitely better, and watching a 3D movie on these new IMAX screens is much easier than on the RealD screens, because the glasses fit more comfortably. And seeing Shrek Forever After in 3D may be the best way to go. The Shrek films were always at the cutting edge of animation, but there was nothing new this time around. So the 3D route, which is in fashion these days, was the way to go to make this movie stand out from the crowd. The results were pretty good. I was sitting close to the screen, so it really felt like the movie was taking place right in front of me. There were some sequences that really stood out from the others, but it was just the entire feel that was nice. Animation works really well in 3D and this movie was no different.
The story was mainly focused on Shrek trying to get his wife to fall in love with him again. In this alternate world, Donkey has no idea who Shrek is, and Puss-in-Boots lives with Fiona, but has kind of let himself go. Gingerbread Man is fighting for money and everyone else lives in fear of Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek has 24 hours to convince Fiona that they're each other's true love so that the contract will be broken and everything will go back to normal. Except Fiona is now heading an ogre revolution against Rumpelstiltskin and has other things on her mind. Mind you, this movie has a happy ending so I think we can all figure out what happens. So visually it's worth checking out, but for a compelling (or even somewhat interesting) story, it's not something you need to pay up to $20 to see. If this truly is the last film in the Shrek saga, then the series went out with a thud, rather than a bang.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Shrek Forever After was just OK. There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, but there wasn't much that was good. Donkey and Puss-in-Boots stole the show, and the 3D made the movie different. But all in all, the series has fallen from must-see to... meh.