Netflix UK film review: Shrek Forever After
James R | On 15, Jul 2016
Director: Mike Mitchell
Cast: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Walt Dohm, Antonio Banderas
Watch Shrek the Third online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play / Sky Store
What if you could go back in time and change history so that Shrek was never born? It’s a question most parents (and other sane people) have asked themselves in the middle of Shreks 2 and 3, and the unstoppable franchise has gone on to answer it. Hopefully before actually stopping.
There was nowhere else for them to go after plundering their writers’ shallow imagination and wit, and so Shrek 4 (or Shrek: The Final Chapter, or Shrek Forever After if you fancy the idle threat) enters Capra territory with this final outing for the ogre and his friends.
Still living out their happy ever after, Shrek (Myers) and Fiona (Diaz) are a blissfully wed mother and father in an over-crowded swamp. But Shrek is tired of the same old routine; his swamp now a famous tourist attraction, no one’s afraid of him anymore. When kids meet him in the street, they merely demand that he “do the roar” in between munching on their toffee apples. So it’s only natural that Shrek be tempted by the Faustian offer laid out to him by the evil Rumpelstiltskin (Dohm): sign away 24 hours of his life, and things will go back to the way they were.
Much evil laughter and whizzing-through-the-sky effects later (Shrek 4 was, of course, released in 3-D) and Shrek is back in his swamp. Alone. Donkey (Murphy) doesn’t recognise him, Puss-in-Boots (Banderas) is fat and retired, and Rumpelstiltskin’s ruling the kingdom. As for Fiona? Well, she’s leading the ogre rebellion against the throne, unaware of Shrek’s existence. It’s a fresh, new world for Mike Myers’ Scottish monster to explore. It’s just one also lacking in laughs.
It’s a neat twist they’ve come up with for the now tired series, and Mike Mitchell runs with it as best he can. But one joke about animal biscuits aside, there’s not much in the way of humour – Rumpelstiltskin changing wigs to suit his mood isn’t a bad gag, but it’s not exactly original. There aren’t even that many nods to the first film, whose wit and ingenuity now feel far, far away. Compared to that subversive CGI adventure, this just feels lazy. The fact that the villain’s voiced by Walt Dohm, who is also the Head of Story, doesn’t help with that one.
It all jumps along quickly enough, with flying sequences and exploding pumpkins galore, but there’s no bounce to Shrek’s galumphing plot; the idea that he has to woo Fiona again for the first time is dealt with in a single, two-minute scene. Deep. There was so much potential for a clever self-referential affair, but the half-arsed structure and unfunny lines are a waste of its cast – John Cleese’s continued cameo is only topped by the shock of seeing Mad Men’s Jon Hamm involved in it all. Don Draper as an ogre? How on earth did they swing that?
Not that the kids will necessarily be bothered. For them, this may still be fast-paced enough to be fun. Good for them. After all, Shrek 4 isn’t terrible, it’s just nothing special. Like everything in life, it’s better than Shrek 3, but the initial impact has long gone. The graphics are still mildly impressive, but, like the three-dimensional format thrown in cinemagoers’ faces, the novelty factor has worn off.
Shrek Forever After is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.