Shrek 4: A Flawed Comedy but a Perfect Final Chapter7/10
When I found out that a fourth Shrek movie was being made, it made me frown because it seemed pretty needless, especially that the last movie was such a bore. But then again, if you take the storyline into consideration, this becomes a fitting final chapter to formally close the Shrek series. The movie is originally entitled SHREK FOREVER AFTER, but in other regions of the world including ours, it is entitled SHREK: THE FINAL CHAPTER, so it's obvious.
First we go to the more unpleasant aspects; this movie works more as a fantasy-adventure movie rather than a comedy. That's because the humor factor of Shrek has gone old already. This movie seems to squeeze the very last drop of what is left of the Shrek series' dried out desert of humor. Sure, it may make us give out a chuckle here, a chuckle there, but this Shrek movie cannot make us laugh out loud anymore. When you look back at its title "Shrek the Final Chapter" you would realize that this movie does seem to apologize with the fact that this'll be the last and probably an admission that they could not squeeze any more decent thing out of the Shrek saga after this one; it's a final effort to make one last buck.
On the other hand, Shrek's main story aspect is a little more interesting than its humor. As I said earlier, this movie is better as a fantasy adventure because we do get to see an alternate reality where Shrek is back into being an outcast Ogre and everybody else who was originally part of his circle of friends has not met him yet. Eventually, they get into an adventure wherein he must face a new enemy, a new problem, and he even gets to meet other ogres and an ogre resistance army that pretty much reminded me of Warcraft (the old-school Warcraft 2 to be exact). In this bizarro world, Donkey has not met him, Puss has become obese, and Fiona is the leader of the Ogre resistance. Shrek must go through this alternate universe and survive it before the day passes and a curse will consume him for good. Shrek gets to have some action with a horde of witches and must face the dragon once again. I could not say that the action was impressive but it has its little cool moments. I particularly loved the chain skull weapons that the witches use.
In addition, this movie works also as a family domestic drama where it maturely deals with the simple family issue of boredom and being sick of how repetitious family life can be. I daresay that the film can work as a satire or perhaps a metaphor that some married men can learn from. There is one sequence in the movie that does capture this crisis; I am talking about the scenes where we see Shrek realize that despite the fact that he does live a happy life, it can get pretty dull and annoying at times, but then again that's life.
Perhaps it becomes boring because many of us choose not to grow up; many of us choose to not let go of what our past lives were. That is what happens to Shrek in this movie. To escape the mediocrity of a family life, he wishes to relive the moments when he was still just a normal ogre again. And because of this, he puts his family life in jeopardy. Shrek 4's tale comes full circle in the sense that it questions if Shrek did have a "happily ever after" ending in the past three movies, and puts one last fantastic circumstance to let him live out a reality that this never happened.
And lastly, Shrek 4's main potential lies in its romance. With an alternate reality story, Shrek faces a Fiona that has never met him. Therefore, Shrek must find out some way to make Fiona fall in love with him all over again. If you ask me, the romantic aspect of this movie is as innovative as the first Shrek movie, in ways that it tells mature subject matter in the guise of fantasy. The Fiona of the alternate reality mirrors the plight of women who gave up on romance, and one scene certainly negates the falsity of most fairy tales with a line that goes something like: "a mere kiss does not solve everything" It negates other fantasies like "Sleeping Beauty" or "Snow White" because it destroys the superficial aspect of those obsolete fairy tales with a more realistic approach, because indeed, a kiss is nothing if there is no true love that goes with it. In my opinion, Shrek 4 succeeds in this aspect.
Shrek may not be the best movie this summer, or it might not be the funniest Shrek movie, but it certainly is one that is very rich story-wise. Just as his line in the first movie went "I have layers" and there certainly are deeper layers to this story rather than one that will just make you laugh. Of course, this works out as a great family movie, but it is certainly perfect for couples, most especially married couples, and parents alike. I give SHREK FOREVER AFTER a.k.a. SHREK: THE FINAL CHAPTER a Matinee rating for single serving; and a Full Price rating for family servings.