Director: Mike Mitchell Release Date: 02/07/10 Link: IMDB It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that the third Shrek film wasn’t that great. By some astonishing coincidence, neither is the fourth. Actually, that’s quite harsh to both movies and I apologise. Shrek the Third was lacklustre but hardly as awful as some people would have you believe, and Shrek Forever After is noticeably better. It’s still got nothing on the first two movies – the main problem being that it’s nowhere near as funny – but at least this time round I actually cared. Besides which, Dreamworks have promised that this will be the last in the series, which I think is a cool thing to admit up front. The initial premise is brilliant. In exchange for one day from his childhood, Shrek (Mike Myers) signs a magical contract over to Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohm) promising him A Day As An Ogre; because being a husband, a father and a town hero is all very well, but Shrek misses the good old days, when he was hated and feared, and everybody left him alone. Unbeknownst to him, Rumpelstiltskin has a very specific idea of what “one day from your childhood” means; he takes the day Shrek was born. The contract grants Shrek just twenty-four hours of life – a life very much like his old one but ironically, thanks to Rumpelstiltskin’s influence, much worse for all his friends – before the entirety of his existence is negated. That’s exactly the kind of setup I want from a kids’ movie. It’s sweet, in its own way, but it also promises to inspire existential terror in the hearts of the world’s more sensitive children, and that can only be a good thing. However, things do get a little bit sickly-sweet for my tastes when Shrek discovers that the only way to break the curse is to rediscover true love’s kiss. Of course that’s no easy task – in this reality, Shrek never rescued Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from the tower, so she’s still afflicted by her old “princess by day, ogre by night” curse. She’s also now leading an ogre rebellion against Far Far Away’s tyrannical new ruler: Rumpelstiltskin, of course. For those reasons, she’s not really in the mood to be wooed by anyone, least of all some clueless newcomer with an unconvincing Scottish accent. You should be able to guess the outcome from there, and I think ultimately that’s why the movie doesn’t work. Given the attempt to tone down the humour in favour of a more grown-up story, I suspect the writers were looking to the recent How To Train Your Dragon for inspiration – a good point of reference, sure, but also a hard act to follow. That film came with an in-built guarantee for some sort of happy ending, true, but the journey there was unpredictable and exciting in a way that Shrek Forever After never quite manages to be. If I may, I'd like to finish on something of a tangent. A cover of the song 'Click Click', originally by The Beat (or The English Beat, if you insist), is used during a key action scene, and I find that to be a fitting metaphor for what's happened to the series. For one thing, it's a terrible, piss-poor version with none of the original's energy. Also, the band responsible (I don't know and I don't want to know) have warped the lyrics to the extent that the song's original meaning has been lost. Possibly because the original is explicitly about suicide. Okay, perhaps it's not an entirely fitting metaphor. But it does really, really piss me off. Photobucket