Trailer Tuesday: Shrek Forever After
Honestly, by the time an animated film series reaches its 3rd installment I've normally lost interest - my love for the characters having been replaced by disgust at the blatant greed of the studio behind the films, which seems so content to pump out soulless sequels conveyor-belt style.
In the case of DreamWorks Animation's Shrek films, I adored the first Shrek (which out of interest has one of the funniest and most interesting DVD Directors' Commentaries I have ever experienced), was sold on Shrek 2 by the presence of Antonio Banderas's Puss in Boots alone, and was utterly disenchanted by Shrek the Third with its limp pregnancy plot. After the third film I was ready to be done with the franchise (even if I did quite enjoy Christmas special Shrek the Halls).
This said, watching the teaser trailer for, and reading more about franchise entry #4, Shrek Forever After, I think I may, just may, be lured into the cinema one final time. This is largely because Forever After's storyline seems to be substantially stronger than Shrek the Third's. And Shrek Forever After's subtitle The Final Chapter promises (apparently) that the new film will conclude the pop culture-drenched story of the grumpy, green ogre and his fairytale buddies once and for all.
"Borrowing" heavily from cinema classic It's a Wonderful Life, Shrek Forever After puts Shrek (voiced yet again by Mike Myers) in that all too common situation of not knowing what you have until you lose it.
Feeling trapped in domesticity with his wife Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and triplets, Shrek longs for the days when villagers would flee screaming from him instead of asking him to autograph their pitchforks. Wanting to feel like a "real" ogre again, Shrek enters into a bargain with Rumpelstiltskin (NOT Paul McCartney as some website have been reporting), that most treacherous of wish granters. As a result, Shrek finds himself transported to a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away. In this other magical land, Shrek has never existed, and as a result Fiona is the kingdom's most feared ogre, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) pulls carts, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is a pink ribbon-wearing fat lump and Rumpelstiltskin is king. It's up to Shrek to restore the world as he knows it and win back the heart of his true love.
Now of course Shrek Forever After could still be superficial junk more concerned with squeezing in as many pop cultural references as possible, than delivering a tale infused with emotional impact. I'm hopeful, however, that the final Shrek film will be elevated by its premise, which I believe has a lot of potential for laughter and heart.
Shrek Forever After is released in the United States on 21 May 2010. South Africans can enjoy the film in traditional format, as well as 3D, 2 months later on 16 July.