The Victorian Hawk Dragon has currently reviewed the following:
Shrek Forever After
Dreams for a day, with laughing in mud, magic for quill, with haircuts to go:
I like the fact that this film is about being happy with what you've got (and remembering to live in the present) - rather than attempting to recapture your past. Shrek has become bored with his daily/repetitive routine (getting up, changing nappies, with no peace or quite to himself) and longs to return to the good old days (when he was able to scare the townspeople/villagers). Fortunately, there's an individual within Far Far Away that can help him with this: Rumpelstiltskin - the Shepard of your dreams! Unfortunately, Rumpelstiltskin has his own agenda: he wishes that Shrek had never been born - and when a deal is struck (for Shrek to be a real ogre again), it is Shrek that loses out. My favourite scene is when Shrek rides a broomstick through the castle of Far Far Away - as he is chased by witches, having to dodge both stairways and pumpkins, whilst finding myself foot-tapping to that catchy tune! My favourite (short) comedy scene is when Shrek grabs a witches broomstick - as the witch continues to fly, eventually ending up embedded in a tree trunk (with her legs hanging out - kicking). My favourite (short) cute/cuddly scene is when Shrek and family are flying along on the back of Dragon - as Dragon now has some seats installed on her back (to help keep Farkle, Fergus and Felicia safe), yet at the same time, there is also irony as they land: don't eat the valet! I love the atmosphere within this film - as its somewhat darker: first in terms of its characters (such as Rumpelstiltskin), then in terms of its locations (such as the Crone's Nest carriage park) and finally in terms of its lighting (with many subtle effects having been produced through the use of lanterns and torches). I was most amused by the changes in the character of Puss in Boots - especially the fact that he has put on weight! He would rather sit around drinking milk, than be out and about chasing mice (as he has now retired). I was also amused by the character of Rumpelstiltskin: he has numerous wigs to wear (business, angry or speech), he has a counter-approach to punishment (ignoring silly suggestions, whilst lashing out at sensible ones) and he sees himself as a goblet, is half-full, kind-of-guy (even when his socks have fallen down!). I approved of the cunning use of two trojan horses: the first is when the Pied Piper climbs out of a duck (to enchant the other ogres), and the second is when the ogres make use of a new glitter ball (to re-enter the castle). Overall: I feel that this films magic lies in the fact that it twists the standard (Shrek) storyline into something darker, whilst at the same time, reminding us all to be grateful for what we've got, and that even if we get what we wished for, that such wishes may be delivered in an unexpected fashion! I also liked the idea that we can be responsible for saving ourselves (from our own problems) and that you can be happy (both by yourself and with others). A fitting conclusion to the characters of Shrek!
Desires to be King, with rivers of mud, catch him I will, with pitter and patter:
I like the fact that this film is about having faith/trust in yourself - rather than listening to the opinions/negativity of others. As King Harold is taken ill, Shrek finds that his marriage comes with responsibilities: he is expected to act as the King. Unfortunately, with the Knighting of a Knight, and the Christening of a Ship, Shrek soon realises that an Ogre is not best suited to the role: so he sets out on a quest - to find the one remaining heir, Arthur. My favourite comedy scene is when Shrek/Fiona are dressed to look the part of King and Queen - as an itch causes a buckle to hit Donkey in the face, which in turn sees Shrek's trousers falling down, eventually leading to a tapestry catching fire, with Donkey licking his lips at some kebabs! My second favourite comedy scene is when Donkey/Puss in Boots end up swapping bodies - as Donkey stumbles along (wondering how Puss can walk in his boots), whilst Puss contends with an eeyore sound (struggling to control it). I also like the fact that these two characters continue to act as themselves (after the swap): Puss still attempts to use his soppy eyes, whilst Donkey still expects his kids to recognise him! My third favourite comedy scene is when Princess Fiona escapes from the castle cells - as two contrasting courses of action are taken: the first sees the Princesses (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Rapunzel) adopting the damsel-in-distress position (i.e. utterly useless), whilst the second sees Queen Lillian smashing through walls (using her forehead!). The film benefits from the fact that both Arthur, and Merlin, are portrayed in ways that I did not expect. Arthur is a young lad (as opposed to a man), who gets picked on by others (the butt of many a joke) and does not believe in his abilities to become King (until Shrek helps him). Merlin is a bungling Wizard (as opposed to the pinnacle of his trade), who is thought to have suffered a nervous breakdown (whilst teaching at Worcestershire high-school) and does not believe that he has much magic left (until Arthur persuades him). I almost fell off the sofa (whilst laughing) at the scene where Merlin plays the Piano (after suddenly appearing next to Captain Hook). I also enjoyed the two ways in which Snow White is portrayed: the first sees her calm and placid (singing to the birds), whilst the second sees her determined and focused (using her animals to defeat two trees). My brain was fried by that crazy Pinocchio logic scene! Overall: I'm impressed that this film takes something that is different (the Villains of Far Far Away), gives them a common goal (to help Prince Charming), yet ends up showing that their not-so-different (after all). I also think that the storyline does a great job at conveying two important messages. The first: that the only opinion that matters (about you) is your own. The second: that the main person stopping you from doing things - is yourself.
Two ogres in love, with mud as a bath, two sidekicks on route, with purring surprise:
I like the fact that this film is about the importance of being yourself: both in terms of personality, and in terms of appearance. Shrek starts his married life by putting his foot down, and being dragged off to meet the in-laws. This meeting does not go well - as King Harold takes an instant dislike (even hiring an assassin - to take care of Shrek). Shrek soon finds himself pondering over his role within the Kingdom of Far Far Away, eventually leading him to read Princess Fiona's diary (a bad idea), as he realises that he's no Prince Charming. My three favourite (comedy) scenes are: when eating dinner around the table (as Shrek and King Harold fight it out over the food, with both coughing at the mention of children), when Shrek wears the clothes from the stage coach that they hold-up (as I nearly fell off the sofa when Donkey and Puss in Boots are creased up in hysterics, rolling around on the floor) and when Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots have been captured (as Puss in Boots says that he must hold-on before he to goes totally mad, only to lookup, and see a talking Pinocchio - too late!). I like the way that the character Puss in Boots is portrayed: two glowing eyes (in a dark room), with a calm Spanish accent, looking so cute (in his boots and hat), he's soppy eyes (causing you to loose yourself), yet unafraid to get his claws out! I also like the unexpected ways, in which both Prince Charming, and the Fairy Godmother, have been portrayed - as I feel that they add to the magic of the storyline (especially with the Fairy Godmother and her diet: turning to junk food whenever something goes wrong!). I also find it amusing with the connection between various comical names and their modern counterparts, for example: The Poison Apple (a seedy pub), Friar's Fat Boy (a fast-food restaurant/drive-by), Versarchery (a stylised armour/clothing out-let), Farbucks Coffee (no guesses there) and the Wheel of Torture (a popular game show). I agree with the idea that you are more defined by your personality, rather than your appearance: even when Shrek goes to great lengths to become more like Prince Charming, Princess Fiona is able to tell that Prince Charming is not her Shrek (as he's not acting like himself). I found it ironic when its revealed that King Harold is actually a frog - especially when he disapproved of Shrek so much (in the first place). Overall: I find the storyline of this film to be very engaging, and I especially enjoy the animation towards the end of the film, when Mongo (aka the giant gingerbread man) makes his appearance. This scene is further enhanced by the use of the song I Need a Hero!, which really does make me feel as though I can accomplish anything!
A tale of two quests, with mud as a shower, a laugh-and-half, with dashing in green:
I like the fact that this film is about journeys: both in terms of characters, and in terms of quests. Shrek starts as a typical ogre - having no friends and only wanting the privacy of his swamp. He's happy to continue living this way, until fortune intervenes, when he meets Donkey: a scatter-brained chatter-box, who although having no friends of his own, gradually becomes a true friend to Shrek. Despite this, Shrek values his privacy, and is intolerant when other fairytale things turn up in his swamp - as he wants his peace and quite (like many of us!). It is this (selfish) reason that gives rise to the story-lines first quest: to return all fairytale things to their homes (by having them relocated from his swamp). My favourite scenes (within this quest) are: when Shrek/Donkey walk through the Lancelot named horse plus cart parking (as this reminded me of the Magic Kingdom car parks), when Shrek/Donkey watch the dancing/singing dolls (as this reminded me of It's a Small World - from Magic Kingdom) and when Shrek/Donkey fight the castle knights (as I laughed when the knights were subjected to a barrel roll, together with numerous wrestling moves). It is within the castle that Shrek gains his second/main quest: whereby he agrees (for selfish reasons), to rescue a princess from the clutches of a dragon (so that he may get his swamp back). Within this quest, I especially like the character/personality development of the dragon: starting out as a fire-breathing western dragon (who smashes through walls and eats many a knight), but finishing as a tamed dragon (as the dragon falls in love with Donkey!). I also like the idea that dragons can be helpful: whether it's offering a lift and/or helping to save the day. When it comes to bringing Princess Fiona back, we (again) learn that she is not what you would expect. Her characters journey sees her transform from a person that demands etiquette, into someone, that is is not very lady-like at all (for example - burping). My favourite Princess scene is when she meets Robin Hood (and his band of merry men), both of which are portrayed as being somewhat annoying. I loved the idea of a woman loosing it and taking on an army single handedly (which is exactly what she does!). Overall: An enjoyable film whose magic lies in the fact that it mixes known elements (such as rescuing a princess) with unexpected elements (such as a likeable ogre). The film also had me foot-tapping (with the song I Believe) and laughing at specific jokes (such as the ones related to Lord Farquaad).