SHREK FOREVER AFTER (U, 93 mins) 6/10
The fourth and final instalment of the computer-animated series puts a fairytale spin on It’s A Wonderful Life, but Shrek Forever After lacks the heartfelt emotion of Frank Capra’s 1946 classic.
The adventures of the friendly green ogre have been on a steady decline since the wildly imaginative 2001 original film so it is to director Mike Mitchell’s credit that this picture is arguably the best of the sequels.
Still, his film relies heavily on the love we have invested in the characters and their fates, and revisits many familiar faces from earlier chapters including Pinocchio, Gingerbread Man and the Three Little Pigs.
Moreover, Mitchell steals shamelessly from Disney’s Beauty And The Beast for his finale.
If you are going to borrow, it may as well be from the best.
Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) is suffering mid-life angst with mewling kids and his beautiful and pungent wife, Fiona (Cameron Diaz).
Villagers are no longer scared of him and the ogre begins to wonder if life holds any more surprises.
“Shrek, you have three beautiful children, a wife who loves you, friends who adore you. Why is it that you’re the only person who can’t see that?” implores Fiona sadly.
In his hour of desperation, Shrek meets the conniving Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who offers a tantalising deal: he will gift Shrek one whole day as a scary ogre, just like before, if the father agrees to sign away one day of his childhood.
Shrek agrees to the Faustian pact, blind to Rumpelstiltskin’s devious plan: to erase the day that Shrek was born and thereby alter the future.
Suddenly, Shrek finds himself in an alternate universe where Fiona is the leader of an underground movement of ogres, good friend Donkey (Eddie Murphy) no longer recognises him and legendary assassin Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) has piled on the pounds to become a lazy house cat.
Indeed, he no longer answers to his heroic monicker. “That is a name I have outgrown,” he purrs.
“That’s not the only thing you’ve outgrown,” quips Shrek, staring at the feline’s bulging belly.
In order to win back Fiona’s love, Shrek must join forces with Donkey and Puss to break the pact before the sands in Rumpelstiltskin’s oversized hourglass run out.
Shrek Forever After brings the long-running saga to a lively close, reminding each of the characters about the love and friendship which bind them together.
Dohrn’s pint-sized, snivelling villain is a colourful addition to the cast and he brings some much needed vim to proceedings.
Murphy is subdued, not that he has a great deal of screen time for his usual scene-stealing antics.
The 3D version exploits the eye-popping format during the chase sequences but Mitchell’s film loses nothing in 2D and children won’t have the added distraction of the oversized plastic spectacles.