Saturday, June 12, 2010

Movie review: Shrek 4

Shrek 4 begins with our title character adjusting to life as a father. He longs for the days when he was a fierce ogre and could take a mud bath in peace. After a fight with Fiona, Shrek is walking home alone when he runs into Rumplestiltskin, who offers Shrek one day as a "real" ogre in exchange for one day from his past. Shrek takes the deal, and soon discovers that the day Rumplestiltskin took was the day Shrek was born.

Which means that Shrek no longer exists.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It is definitely better than the forgettable third, and at least as good as the second. It was interesting to see how the characters' lives are different in a world without Shrek. Puss, for example, would not look out of place on the Biggest Loser ranch (that cat could give Garfield a run for his money). The gingerbread man has taken to fighting animal crackers in the street. Rumplestiltskin rules Far Far Away and has a squad of Wicked Witches who track down ogres. The witches have pumpkin bombs, which I thought was hilarious.

The best change, though, is what happened to Fiona. After waiting for her true love, who never came, Fiona rescued herself from the Dragon's Keep. Heck yes! As if she wasn't badass enough in the first movie, now she is a true self-rescuing princess. Of course, the curse is still in effect. Fiona has embraced her ogre side. Now, instead of seeing herself as a princess who turns into an ogre, she is an ogre who hides the fact that she turns into a human during the day. By night, she leads the other ogres in The Resistance as they fight to overthrow Rumplestiltskin.

Stiltskin (as he is known to his enemies) was a decent villain. I have no idea what was up with his goose, though. Was it a robot? Or just a really big goose? I think it had gold teeth, too. It must have been the goose that lays the golden eggs, although they never explained it. That will probably turn up on the DVD as a deleted scene. I thought from the posters that maybe Lord Farquaad would be back. I was a bit disappointed that he never showed up. Incidentally, I wonder how all of the fairy tale creatures ended up in Far Far Away without Shrek and Fiona bringing them there. I suppose that Farquaad shipped them off there after he had rounded them all up.

The one thing that bugged me about this movie was the sudden appearance of the underground ogre society. Had it existed in the original timeline, without Shrek ever mentioning it? He seemed unsurprised to find a whole society of ogres. If he knew about other ogres, why had they never been mentioned before? If they somehow came into existence because of the contract, how did that happen? And why was there no shock about suddenly discovering the existence of dozens of his kind? And why were they still around after the contract was broken?

Right, spoiler alert. But (A) this movie has been out for over a month and (B) would anyone actually expect it to end with Shrek disappearing from existence? I will not spoil how it all works out, but I will say that I thought it was clever and well-plotted. The first movie had a lot of originality, so it was great to see some in this movie as well.

Overall, Shrek 4 gets 4 stars/5.

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