Movies opening this weekend

Shrek, Forever After (USA 2010)

Directed by: Darren Lemke

With: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews

Showing at: Movieplex Cinema Plaza, Hollywood Multiplex, The Light Cinema, Samsung IMAX, Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Sun Plaza, Patria

The magic has certainly not faded for good from the green ogre’s fairytale run The fourth chapter of Shrek – supposedly the last one – does go some way towards making up for its waning predecessor. Dialling down the pop-culture excess and cheap laughs of the disappointing third instalment, Shrek Forever After turns up the darkness and alternative realities, a bold move which may prove too much for its key fan base – the youngest of minds.

When the original Shrek film made its debut in 2001, its refreshingly bitter-sweet tone and irreverent fairy tale references made it a real treat for both wide-eyed kids and cynical grown ups. Three films on and the elements that made Shrek such a success are still present but, with a plot that sees Shrek having to revisit past glories, there’s inevitably a sense that the film-makers are trying to do the same.

That’s not to say that Shrek Forever After isn’t enjoyable, the It’s a Wonderful Life-style plot is well-built and there’s a generous smattering of smart gags.

The Shrek films have always been about the green ogre learning to combat his feelings of low self-esteem. A common problem among ogres I’d imagine. Shrek Forever After is no exception as he learns to love himself and accept that even an ogre deserves his share of happiness. One of the disappointments of Shrek Forever After is that a number of the regular characters are not given enough to do. Donkey and Puss In Boots are both forced towards the sidelines and Julie Andrews’ Queen Lillian almost seems to have been an afterthought.

The compensation comes in the character of villain Rumpelstiltskin, a Bond-style megalomaniac with a freakish wig for every mood. He lends a little edge to the film. Overall, this Shrek is a fast-paced often amusing adventure yarn in which our beloved ogre fights his own demons and the forces of evil. It isn’t quite as witty or inventive as you might have hoped but if it is the last film in the series then it offers an honourable conclusion to a wonderful decade of family entertainment.

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