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Shrek Forever After(2010)
After challenging an evil dragon, rescuing a beautiful princess and saving your in-laws' kingdom, what's an ogre to do? Well, if you're Shrek, you suddenly wind up a domesticated family man. Instead of scaring villagers away like he used to, a reluctant Shrek now agrees to autograph pitch forks. What's happened to this ogre's roar? Longing for the days when he felt like a "real ogre," Shrek is duped into signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Shrek and Fiona have never met. Now, it's up to Shrek to undo all he's done in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his one True Love.
For more about Shrek Forever After and the Shrek Forever After Blu-ray release, see Shrek Forever After Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 1, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jon Hamm
Director: Mike Mitchell
» See full cast & crew
Shrek Forever After Blu-ray Review
Better in your collection than out.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 1, 2010
I guess there's nothing wrong with wanting some time for myself.
It might not be easy being green, but it sure is profitable. Shrek and its three sequels made more than a fair chunk of change at the box office and additional untold millions of dollars more in home video sales and merchandising, but not by sheer luck. Shrek is a magically timeless series that emphasizes good, wholesome values, even through a plethora of generally kid-friendly but subtly adult humor and dark plot structures that incorporate Fairy Tale cliché to unbelievably unique and effective results. The Shrek series turns the classic Fairy Tale on its head by crafting emphasizing the "Happily Ever After" finale but gets there through humor and oftentimes dark and perilous adventure, and with a hero and heroine who are decidedly untraditional in both appearance and attitude. The slovenly and anti-social Shrek and his fair Bride, the chubby green ogre Fiona, represent a new take on the classically beautiful Fairy Tale heroes and heroines, allowing the stories to more easily but without much additional pomp and circumstance celebrate the true meaning of love and the joys of the Happily Ever After ending by emphasizing that true beauty is not merely skin deep. The final film in the series, Shrek Forever After, puts the prefect finishing touches on the characters' four-part journey of discovery by once again emphasizing and reinforcing the themes that defined the first three pictures while offering up the best story, finest animation, and most memorable villain of the bunch.
In the time before Shrek rescued Fiona from her tower, bestowed upon her love's true kiss, and the happy couple began their journey towards Happily Ever After, a cunning little villain by the name of Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) persuaded Fiona's royal parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), to hand over the keys of the kingdom to him in exchange for freeing Fiona from her seemingly eternal curse. Just as the King was about to sign away everything but his wife and daughter, word reached him that Fiona had been saved, ruining Rumpelstiltskin's perfect plan to sieze power over the Kingdom of Far, Far Away. Years later, Rumpelstiltskin is still sore over the loss and Shrek, who is now married to Fiona and father to triplets, is losing his sanity. His busy life has become a curse rather than a blessing, and he longs only to return to the days before Fiona, Donkey, and the babies and once again live life like a real ogre, scaring peasants and leading a joyfully stress-free existence. When a frustrated Shrek storms out of his babies' first birthday party, he happens up Rumpelstiltskin who seizes the opportunity to offer Shrek the deal of a lifetime: a day of absolute freedom to live as he once did in exchange for one day from his childhood that he won't even remember losing. Shrek signs the binding contract but soon finds his world in disarray; all that he's come to know and love over the years has vanished, replaced by a world run by the hateful Rumpelstiltskin where Fiona is no longer his wife, Donkey is just another talking animal, and his children don't exist. Faced with a reality that he may have forever destroyed all he comes to realize that he holds dear, he sets out to learn what exactly it will take to set things right.
What a way to end the series. Shrek Forever After is the perfect conclusion to the story that began in Shrek; this fourth installment not only captures the magic and heart of the series as well as any of the other entries, but it also boils its entire plot down to the most basic element that defines all four films: the power of true love's first kiss and, with that, the theme that speaks on the importance of self-worth; acceptance; inner beauty; and the meaning and power of real, unconditional love. Shrek the Fourth comes full circle by reinforcing the notion that the bonds of love are greater than place and time, circumstances, or stature; even so, the picture once again revels in Fairy Tale cliché, but for once it's cliché with real meaning that allows audiences to whittle away even the most basic plot elements and come to see the true power of a Happily Ever After ending. This is a Fairy Tale, after all, so there's no surprise that the movie ends on the most upbeat and heartfelt conclusion possible given the specifics of the story, but that's alright. Shrek the Fourth and the other three Shrek films, for that matter, provide a tender and warm escape from the complexities of the world and aim to do nothing more than show that no matter the challenges that life throws one's way, there's always something better, something meaningful, something special on the horizon or, maybe, right under one's own nose. Every day and every moment might not be absolute physical, emotional, and spiritual bliss, but Shrek teaches that it's the sum of the experiences that define true happiness. Shrek the Fourth offers the perfect example of that by way of showing Shrek's life in a state of disarray that's about the last thing he could have ever wanted when audiences first met him nearly a decade ago; his is a classic case of "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone," and therein lies the perfect scenario for the perfect Happily Ever After ending. Shrek could have never imagined that he would one day find true happiness in a houseful of babies, a wife by his side, a donkey as his best friend, and a suddenly cuddly and not at all terrifying stature where is roar is a gimmick rather than a frightening deterrent. Happiness, he and the audiences learns, comes to be defined through life experiences, and Shrek's destiny leads him to time and again find the real power and purpose behind love's true kiss and all that comes with it.
Shrek Forever After finds its success as a film that reinforces the basic theme that runs through the series, but there are plenty of other things to love about the movie, all of which elevate it to a level of animated cinematic perfection that's rarely achieved. The picture retains the same charming characters and basic structure of its predecessors; The Fourth is equal parts adventure, comedy, and tenderness, and like the first two films, it manages to find and maintain the absolute perfect balance between the three. This film continues on with the inclusion of popular music to reinforce various plot elements and themes, and its use of The Carpenters' "Top of the World" is particularly memorable and, arguably, one of the finest music-movie compliments in all of cinema. Better still, Shrek the Fourth is a visually gorgeous picture and easily the best of the series. Unlike the other three films, The Fourth is presented in a scope widescreen aspect ratio that gives a more epic and dramatic flair to the image, but more importantly, the animation is, well, in a class practically by itself. Watching the four films in succession yields a real appreciation for how quickly the digital technologies have evolved. Whether in sheer realism, infinite details, or brighter and bolder colors, Shrek the Fourth is so far ahead of the original film and several notches better than either of the other two predecessors that one can't help but wish there would be a fifth film in the series several years from now if only to see the characters improved by even greater advances in animation techniques.
One criticism of Shrek the Fourth might be that it closely resembles Shrek 2 in terms of structure and story; in 2, Shrek longed to be something other than an ogre so as to please Fiona and earn the blessing of her doubting father. Here, Shrek yearns to lose the humanity he's acquired and the life he's built and return to a more primitive and solitary state. In both films, Shrek learns that he's the sum of his experiences and not merely an immutable being accidentally thrust into an unnatural environment. Shrek the Fourth takes things a step further, though; in Shrek 2, all that really changed was Shrek. In Shrek the Fourth, he comes to realize that it's not necessarily him who defines who he is, but all it is that's around him, that's influenced him, that's become a part of his life. The complexities of life don't play well with alternate realities while traveling backwards down one's own personal evolutionary scale; every rung of that ladder holds an element that comes to define the entirety of an existence. Slide back down and those elements remain inside, even if they're not readily evident externally, resulting in an inner conflict that can't be resolved and a balance that can't be leveled. That basic core principal plays right into the hand of the series' overreaching themes, which are realized here to perfection and help make Shrek Forever After the perfect conclusion to a wonderful series.
Shrek Forever After Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shrek Forever After switches things up a bit, ditching the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the previous three films for the 2.35:1 widescreen format. The results are, in a word, breathtaking. For as wonderful as the other films look, Forever After simply blows them away in every area, thanks to the jaw-dropping quality of the animation that's arguably the best of any purely digital film to date. Detail is so striking that it sometimes distracts from the movie; viewers will be awed by the infinite clarity, precision sharpness, faultless detailing, and immaculate color palette that all accompany every frame. Whether the regal purple and gold accents on the King and Queen's carriage as seen at the beginning of the film, Shrek's trademark green skin, or Fiona's captivating blue eyes, this transfer is awash in a splendid array of colors that put most every other Blu-ray disc to shame. Likewise, details are so good that one can only wonder how long it took to make a movie this exacting while staring at the 1080p screen in bewilderment that anything can look this good. The transfer is free of any unwanted blemishes, and that pretty much wraps this one up. The transfer speaks for itself, and Shrek Forever After commands strong consideration as the year's -- and, so far, Blu-ray's -- absolute best picture quality.
Shrek Forever After Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This sonically flawless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack is the perfect companion to Shrek Forever After's impeccable 1080p video transfer. DreamWorks' lossless presentation easily surpasses the soundtracks of the three Shrek films found in the four-disc box set, and while it shares in common most of the same attributes featured on those tracks, Forever After's 7.1 channels of sonic goodness amplifies them all and perfects each one, allowing this track to reach something of a zenith that places it amongst the finest soundtracks available on Blu-ray. Spacing is perfect, clarity amazing, and the entire thing is virtually transparent as the speakers seem to disappear in favor of a wide, real, and organic presentation that simply must be heard to be believed. Listen as the Royal buggy slams its way through the soundstage in one early scene or be transported into a mobile holding cell with Shrek in another as it bounces around on rough terrain, allowing listeners to almost feel the bumps in the road with every pebble and recess. Listen for the track to increase in potency in conjunction with Shrek's level of irritation at the birthday party, culminating in him "doing the roar" and sending a shockwave of blissful bass through the listening area that's as tight, precise, and potentially window-shattering as anything out there, at least until the sensation is repeated and, it seems, kicked up a level or two later in the film. DreamWorks' soundtrack expectedly handles all of the lesser environmental nuances with ease, and music, too, is delivered with a clarity and realism fit for only the finest of soundtracks, whether speaking of the cheerfully laid back performance of "Top of the World" or the bass-heavy dance beats heard during one of Rumpelstiltskin's parties. Dialogue, of course, plays faultlessly, rounding out a superior soundtrack where even the most praising of adjectives can't really get to how good it is.
Shrek Forever After Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Shrek Forever After offers a great supplemental package. Things begin with The Animators' Corner, a picture-in-picture commentary/behind-the-scenes supplement that takes viewers deep into the making of the movie, looking at the process of bringing the world of Shrek to life not only on the big screen and on the computer hard drive but as it developed in the minds of the filmmakers. also examined is the work of the digital artists and the voice actors while also exploring conceptual drawings, the details that went into crafting both the characters and the environments in which they exist, the colors, the music, the deep research into Fairy Tales and medieval times, and more. Also examined is the implementation of the many different Fairy Tales characters and themes throughout the series and in Forever After. This excellent feature provides both the average fan and the hardcore enthusiast alike an incredible amount of Shrek Forever After information. Next is Shrek's Interactive Journey. This extra offers a clickable map that shows viewers the artwork that inspired the design of the various locales around the world of Shrek Forever After.
In addition to the PiP and interactive features is a host of additional content, headlined by an audio commentary track with Director Mike Mitchell, Head of Story Walt Dohrn, and Producers Gina Shay and Teresa Cheng, provided with optional English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles. The four participants share an obvious chemistry; they're excited and affable in their delivery of the commentary, offering both serious and light insights into the making of the film. There's more variety in the PiP track, so once again, it's the better choice for viewers on a time crunch. Next is the Spotlight feature, highlighting the series' main character, Shrek. This piece (1080p, 13:46) examines the character's progression through the series, looks at the voice work of Mike Myers, and the process and technologies involved in creating a digital character. A series of three deleted scenes (1080p, 5:44) are followed by Conversation with the Cast (1080p, 9:18), a retrospective piece where Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and others field questions about the series' history and themes. The Tech of 'Shrek Forever After' (1080p, 7:32) is a fascinating but all-too-brief supplement that takes viewers into the world of digital artistry for a look at how computer-generated animated films are created.
Next, under the Shrek, Rattle & Roll tab, is the "Darling I Do" music video (1080p, 4:00) and Shrek the Musical, a tab unto itself that branches out to contain From Swamp to Stage: The Making of 'Shrek the Musical' (1080p, 8:13) and the number "Who I'd Be" (1080p, 3:56). Shrek's Yule Log (1080p, 30:18, Dolby TrueHD 7.1) is a Shrek-themed digital fireplace that occasionally has random characters pop up in front, while light music and various background noises play in the background. Donkey's Caroling Christmas-Tacular (1080p, 5:11, Dolby TrueHD 7.1) features the characters singing Christmas songs, with optional karaoke-style on-screen lyrics. The Deck the Swamp tab reveals three final extras. 12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book (1080p, 2:18) features Shrek telling a Christmas story while a pop-up book works its magic on-screen (too bad this extra is not available in Blu-ray 3D). Donkey's Decoration Scramble (1080p) is an interactive game that challenges players to repair broken Christmas ornaments. Finally, Cookin' With Cookie (1080p, 4:54) features the Chimichanga stand chef providing recipes for Baked Chimichangas, Ogre Orange Slices, Puss' Peanut Butter Yule Logs, Gingy's Gingerbread Cookies, and Donkey's Mouthwatering Waffles. A DVD copy of the film is also included.
Shrek Forever After Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Shrek Forever After is a gloriously entertaining and undeniably sweet movie that's the perfect ending to a classic animated series. The film returns to the series' core values by building its story around a character who loses all that he loves and, through his adventures in trying to restore what he's lost, comes to cherish everything in his life all the more. It's that basic essence that makes the movies great; they emphasize good values that teach self-confidence, self-appreciation, the importance of family, and the power of true love. All are highlighted in Shrek Forever After, and the story's as genuinely touching as it is uproariously funny. Fans of the series will marvel at the quality of DreamWorks' Blu-ray presentation of Shrek Forever After. The disc sports one of, if not the, finest transfers yet seen on Blu-ray, accompanied by an equally fantastic lossless soundtrack and plenty of informative and adorable extra content. Do the roar and make this disc a permanent addition to the Blu-ray collection. Shrek Forever After comes very highly recommended!
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