shrekToday’s Saturday movie review from Yalin is for the upcoming release of Shrek, Forever After. Thanks Yalin!

The fourth and final instalment of the Shrek franchise doesn’t take any risks when it comes to its story but still manages to whip up an entertaining experience with a worthwhile new villain, who is as deviously funny as Lord Farquaad from the original.

[Spoiler alert] Shrek, Forever After essentially picks up where the third entry left. Shrek and Fiona are living ‘happily ever after’ in their swamp, but the film doesn’t lose any time to introduce the dull routine of their lives. Shrek, like any male human who finds himself in a marriage with kids, discovers that ogre males have the same psychology. He feels their world revolves around the kids and that he has no control over his life. He misses the days when he used to roam freely in his swamp scaring the wits off villagers.

A fight with Fiona and a magical contract later, Shrek finds himself in an alternate day when people still fear ogres. The fine print on the contract turns out to be a bit more tricky though as our new villain turns the tables on Shrek. He finds himself on a quest to save not only himself but everyone whom he has ever cared about. It’s a worthwhile premise for the franchise as the story goes back to its roots about true love, but a part of me still wishes that we could have accompanied these colourful characters on an all-new quest one last time.

Even though the Shrek sequels have never been as good as Toy Story 2, if there’s anything they’ve done well, it’s the villains. From Lord Farquaad to Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother, the Shrek writers have always created screen-worthy bad fellas. The ‘bad’ ensemble adds Rumpelstiltskin with Shrek 4, who originates from a German fairytale. Wonderfully voiced by Walt Dohrn, who is also Head of Story on the film, Rumpelstiltskin is quite a character. From having different wigs for different occasions to fashioning the best evil grin to grace the Shrek films, he dominates the film despite his dwarfish size. Given the initial cliché of middle-age crisis, Rumpelstiltskin represents the creative side of the story. He tricks Shrek into the magical contract and gets the kingdom he has always been waiting for.

The original Shrek became a huge hit because it made fun of the age-old clichés of the animated world and brought a modern day take on fairy tales. From birds exploding by the princess’ song to the reality show treatment of picking a queen for Lord Farquaad, the original grew from its clever restatement of Disney classics.

As new sequels got added to the mix, the writers took off a different direction: the films became about the Shrek universe. The final instalment is a product of that transformation, where the film tries to stand on its own legs without resorting to ridicule of animated classics. It can achieve this to a certain extent as the characters are well-established and loved, but it is also obvious that the writers resorted to some quick and easy gags to fill the laughs.

At the end of the day, the Shrek universe is an off-shoot of the traditional animated world, and its admittance of that fact made the original so good. It’s valiant to see an attempt to create a new, standalone universe, but there isn’t that much new in the mix to support a fourth bloat completely.