Shrek Forever After (2010)

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Rumpelstiltskin tricks a mid-life crisis burdened Shrek into allowing himself to be erased from existence and cast in a dark alternate timeline where Rumpel rules supreme. (IMDb)
Props for finding yet another way to twist some conflict out of the happy ending from the first one with a cool Back to the Future-esque alternative timeline premise, though it ultimately did Shrek’s intriguing initial inner struggles a disservice. Besides a decent story, however, there’s little to appreciate: The new characters fail to charm (Rumpel is just annoying) and aside from a few more one-liners from Donkey (“I go down smooth, but I come out fighting!”) there isn’t much to laugh at.
6/10 (Mediocre)

Shrek the Third (2007)

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When his new father-in-law, King Harold falls ill, Shrek is looked at as the heir to the land of Far, Far Away. Not one to give up his beloved swamp, Shrek recruits his friends Donkey and Puss in Boots to install the rebellious Artie as the new king. Princess Fiona, however, rallies a band of royal girlfriends to fend off a coup d’etat by the jilted Prince Charming.  (IMDb)
With a lazily conceived and executed and generally suspense-less plot, the onus is all on the comedy here, and while it’s not always on point (the potty humour and baby schtick don’t stick) there’s enough goofy slapstick (I couldn’t help but lol at the Shrek as mascot bit) and creative meta-humour (see Marlin’s forced sentimentality) to keep it watchable. A subversive play on the damsel in distress trope and a surprising and funny (if over-simplified) reconciliatory ending are other positives.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Shrek 2 (2004)

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Princess Fiona’s parents invite her and Shrek to dinner to celebrate her marriage. If only they knew the newlyweds were both ogres. (IMDb)

The fart jokes and pop song performances feel a little stale this time around, but there’s still plenty of chuckles to be had in the sly one-liners (“You still look like an ass to me”), the dramatic Donkey (“I’m melting!”; “I am trotting!”), and cutesy medieval-modern culture mash-ups (see the Medieval drive-thru). The story is a little simplistic but presents with frankness the mature themes of identity and insecurity as they relate to the central couple. Stay tuned for Waits’ musical cameo.

6.4/10

Gangs of New York (2002)

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In 1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father’s killer. (IMDb)

With a meandering first two acts and Amsterdam’s too-simple switch, the plot here isn’t always on point, but its wholly immersive setting provides more than enough substance to engage, with each masterfully decorated and artfully directed scene bringing you deeper into the violent, lawless chaos of 1860s New York. The fantastic Day-Lewis (the terrifying presence that is The Butcher) lures you even further in to this edge-of-your-seat experience that’s a little rambling, but always riveting.

8.3/10

Shrek (2001)

After his swamp is filled with magical creatures, an ogre agrees to rescue a princess for a villainous lord in order to get his land back. (IMDb)

Myers’ and Murphy’s Shrek and Donkey make up an instantly classic odd couple at the heart of this enjoyable animated adventure; their hilariously contrasting personalities add plenty of humour to an already fun journey-plot full of great tunes and imaginative extrapolations on well-known fairy tale characters and premises. Diaz is also great as the feisty Fiona central to the film’s touching twist on the typical prince/princess story. There’s lots to love in this cleverly written family flick.

7.3/10