Archive for the Family Category

Eragon (x)

Posted in Action, Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on February 2, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Stefen Fangmeier.
Screenplay: Peter Buchman.
Starring: Ed Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Garrett Hedlund, Alun Armstrong, Joss Stone, Chris Egan, Gary Lewis.
Voice of: Rachel Weisz.

I enjoy a good fantastical story but I had avoided this one due to the bad things I’d heard of it. However, I eventually thought I should still give it go and see for myself. Seriously though, I wish I’d listened to the naysayers now.

Young farmer Eragon (Ed Speleers) finds a dragon’s egg, and teams up with the newborn dragon, Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz), a former Dragon Rider (Jeremy Irons) and a female Elf (Sienna Guillory) to tackle an evil king (John Malkovich) and his shady accomplice (Robert Carlyle).

Bad dialogue, bad acting, bad movie. If your going to release a fantasy film these days then make sure it has some mileage, as “The Lord of the Rings” has set a very high benchmark. This was also based on a series of books by Christopher Paolini but it’s not even in the same league as some of the quality we’ve recently been spoiled with. Admittedly, I’ve never read the books, leaving me unsure as to how the adaptation should be but I do know this… the voice of the dragon was a bad move. It made no effort to even look like the dragon was communicating and just came across as cheap and insulting. Although some were impressed with the special effects, I didn’t find them to be anything special at all. Speelers doesn’t really cut it as the hero of the tale, lacking charisma and any form of acting ability and the rest of the cast seem perplexed. You get the impression from Irons and Malkovich that they know they’ve made a mistake with this one. The same goes for Carlyle but he still manages to deliver a decidedly nasty villian that’s way above this nonsense. Normally a fantasy yarn has something to hold your interest – no matter how poor – but it just goes to show there are exceptions to that. This is one, and quite possibly the definitive to those exceptions.

The only positive that can be taken from this is that due to it’s box-office and critical failure, we will probably be spared the adaptations to the rest of the series. A very bad film indeed.

Mark Walker


Labyrinth * * * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on February 2, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Jim Henson.
Screenplay: Terry Jones.
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Toby Froud, Shelley Thompson, Christopher Malcolm, Warwick Davis, Kenny Baker.

Imaginative fantasies have become commonplace of recent times with the release of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” films etc. This has been made possible with the technology we have now, helping to bring fantastical imagery to a new level. However, this 1986 film preceeded those using old-fashioned puppetry from “The Muppets” creator Jim Henson and based on an original story by Terry Jones from “Monty Python” fame.

When her baby brother is stolen by the Goblin King (David Bowie), young Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) must mount a rescue operation. A plan made doubly tricky by the fact he has hidden his castle in the middle of a treacherous labyrinth populated with the weird and the wonderful.

This being a childhood favourite of mine, it was nice to visit it again recently. It also serves as a reminder as to how good Jim Henson and his puppets were. With most movies now relying on computer generated special effects, it’s refreshing to know that a more inventive approach was once used. However, some scenes do show up the limitations (and strings) and some stunted dialogue and amature acting don’t help matters. Despite this though, it’s the sheer imagination, fantastical otherworld and it’s eclectic inhabitants that capture your attention in a way that children’s films don’t quite do anymore. When I was young, I wholly entered into Henson’s world and upon a recent rewatch, was reminded how easy that was to do. It’s still effective now and with a shared enthusiasm from my CGI exposed young daughter, it’s testiment that a young audience today can still be captivated by it. Not so long ago, special effects had an integrity about them and Jim Henson and his puppet company were one of the best in the business. Henson was still honing his skills before his untimely death a few years after this. Ironically he died in the same week he was going to sell him company to one of the modern computer generated giants of today. A little known company called… ‘Disney’.

A fantastical, family friendly classic that I much loved as a youngster and have the pleasure to relive with my own children. It has aged fairly well. Although, I often wonder if Bowie actually had that excessively ridiculous codpiece written into his contract. Dear oh dear, David. Have you no shame?

Mark Walker


A Town Called Panic * * * * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Foreign Language with tags on February 1, 2012 by Mark Walker


Directors: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar.
Screenplay: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar.
Voices: Stephane Aubier, Bruce Ellison, Benoit Poelvoorde, Jeanne Balibar.

Stop-motion animation still has a place in film today despite the computer generated brilliance of Pixar and Dreamwork etc. “Wallace and Gromit” are still a success and with the arrival of this inventive adventure, it shows that there’s still some mileage left in the old stop-motion style yet.

Papier mache toys Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they accidently destroy his house. No sooner have they built a new home only for it to be stolen from beneath their noses by a stealthy and cunning assailant. Strange adventures ensue as the trio travel to the centre of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parrallel underwater universe where dishonest subaquatic creatures live.

As long as there’s still imagination and creativity in the world, there will still be works of art produced regardless of being at a disadvantage. This little animation is proof that millions of money isn’t necessary to produce something that works. Stop-motion animation is probably the most difficult and painstaking of techniques, making you wonder why they even bother in the first place. Fortunately they do bother and we are treated to this fantastic little gem. It’s basic in it’s setup and characters, with second rate little toys brought to life, injected with hilarity, detail and crammed full of creativity and imagination that it’s hard to resist. An absolutely wonderful little treat and very unlike most animation today. Yes, “Wallace and Gromit” are famous stop-motion characters but they are still miles from this surreal Belgian adventure from Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar.

It’s a pure joy that will shamefully be overlooked by many and deserves a wider audience for it’s originality alone. Added to which, it unashamedly boasts…”shown in glorious 2D.” Superb!

Mark Walker


The Secret Of Kells * * * 1/2

Posted in Animation, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 28, 2012 by Mark Walker


Directors: Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey.
Screenplay: Fabrice Ziolkowski.
Voices: Evan McGuire, Brendan Gleeson, Mick Lally, Christen Mooney.

Hand painted artwork is such a treat these days, considering most animation is computer generated and the hand crafted imagery in this one is some of the finest you’re likely to see.

It tells the story of Brendan, a young lad living in a monestry in Ireland, and his interest in the arrival of Brother Aidan, who is writing an almost magical looking manuscript. However, the Brother can’t finish his writings until he can get more bramble berries, to use for ink, that can only be found in the dangerous forest beyond the Abbey walls. Brendan takes it upon himself to venture out and retrieve the berries and becomes embroiled in a whole new world of possibilities.

I had high expectations for this film but it didn’t capture my imagination as much as I thought it would, although the animation is second to none and absolutely gorgeous in it’s hand painted intricate beauty. It truly is captivating.
The illustrations of the real “Book of Kells” are captured and brought to life in their complexity with this film. The traditional Christian iconography with swirling motifs and animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knotwork and interlacing patterns are as close a representation of the book as your likely to get. Despite the visual feast, however, there is something missing. The dialogue is stilted and it doesn’t engage you the way it should. I found myself drifting throughout it, when really I should have been glued to the screen with the marvellous Christian and Pagan symbolism.

If they had put as much effort into a flowing narrative as they did with the animation this would have been a masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s not. But it’s a damn good looking attempt at one.

Mark Walker


City Of Ember (x)

Posted in Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 28, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Gil Kenan.
Screenplay: Caroline Thompson.
Starring: Saoirse Ronin, Harry Treadaway, Toby Jones, Martin Landau, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Mary Kay Place, Mackenzie Crook, Tim Robbins, Bill Murray.

Is it really possible that a kids adventure film can be dull and uneventful? Well… “City of Ember” is proof that, yes, it can be.

Based on the novel by Jeanne Duprau, it tells the story of Lina (Ronan) and Doon (Treadaway) who live in an underground city named ‘Ember’. It is lit only by electric lamps, whose inhabitants have no light sources. The darkness beyond their city hold unknown things and possible salvation, so they decide to find a way out, as ‘Ember’ is falling to pieces and what little power supply they have left, is running out.

There is next to nothing to recommend here, with the one exception being a nice and almost unrecognisable appearance from Martin Landau. What the hell Tim Robbins and Bill Murray where thinking of by getting involved in this stinker, I’ll never know. They are way above this tedious nonsense.

One for definite avoidance unless your suffering a bout of insomnia.

Mark Walker


Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 28, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Zack Snyder.
Screenplay: John Orloff, Emil Stern.
Voices: Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Joel Edgerton, David Wenham, Anthony LaPaglia, Richard Roxburgh, Abbie Cornish, Miriam Margoyles, Angus Sampson.

After a great directorial debut with the zombie flick “Dawn of the Dead” and two back to back successful comic adaptations in “300” and “Watchmen”, you’d think that Zack Snyder would be a fine choice to adapt this children’s fantasy book by Kathryn Lansky. However, that’s not the case with this one.

Young Soren and Kludd are two owl brothers, fascinated with the history and legend of the ‘Guardians’ (an herioc owl clan that defeated the powers of evil in the past). When playing one day, the two brothers are abducted and taken to the sinister fortress of St Aegolius, where supposedly long-since defeated evil owl overlord Metalbeak is secretly raising an army. Soren takes it upon himself to escape and seek out legendary owl-paladins “the Guardians Of Ga’Hoole”, and save all owlkind.

This has some great animation and 3D effects but ultimately the story is uninteresting and frankly, very dull. After a weak beginning I was certain the film would kick up a gear, considering it had Snyder involved, but it never did. It remained flat, tedious and despite it being a fantasy, it still didn’t suspend disbelief. I often found myself wondering how the Owls made their armour, let alone wear it. Now that’s a bad sign. It’s also bad that your one of only three people in the cinema watching it and another being your four year old, who is crying to leave halfway through when the popcorn has ran out. It suffers with Owls being the main characters for a start. I mean, how many times can you make an owl look different from each other, so the audience don’t get mixed up with them and how many expressions can you force out of them. Attention to detail in the owls is undeniably impressive but I don’t fancy watching 90mins identifying every single feather or reflection of light in their eyes. Yes, it’s nice to look at but more attention should have been paid to the script and less on the fluff. Most of the effort seemingly went into the long and drawn out title of the film, which in terms of consistency, it at least shares the same stupidity as the film itself. There is one scene worthy of attention, with Soren in slow motion flight played out with the haunting vocals of “Dead Can Dance” singer Lisa Gerrard, but apart from that and the impressive visuals it’s a real let down from Snyder and a film that has being seriously overhyped.

A more suitable title would have been “The Bowels of Ga’Hoole” – it’s a real stinker.

Mark Walker


The Fox And The Child * * *

Posted in Drama, Family with tags on January 27, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Luc Jacquet.
Screenplay: Luc Jacquet, Eric Rognard.
Narrated by: Kate Winslet.
Starring: Bertille Noel-Bruneau, Isabelle Carre, Thomas Laliberte, Camille Lambert.

His previous film “March of The Penguins” was an impressive nature programme, on a par with David Attenborough. This time director Luc Jacquet attempts more of the same but combines the nature side with a fictional fairy-tale narrative.

It tells the very basic story of a little girl living ruraly who befriends a fox. At first, the relationship between them is obviously strained but they grow to trust one another and strike up a real heartfelt affinity.

Jacquet’s follow-up to his very successful first outing definitely has similair visual splendor and some very impressive interactive footage of the little girl and the fox. However, the story is whimsical and the little girl becomes quite frustrating in her stupidity in attempting to domesticate the wild animal. Kate Winslet’s VoiceOver is a tad on the twee side also and becomes too sugary sweet. The visuals are excellent though, with some stunning cinematography and beautiful landscapes and even if its not an entirely successful amalgamation, it’s still a fine attempt at one.

Childish but charming.

Mark Walker


The Incredibles * * * *

Posted in Action, Animation, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 27, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Brad Bird.
Screenplay: Brad Bird.
Voices: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Wallace Shawn, Lou Romano, Elizabeth Pena, John Ratzenberger, Brad Bird.

Pixar have had numerous heroic characters throughout their animations but here, director Brad Bird introduces us to a full-blown superhero story.

When Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), catches a jumper who doesn’t want to be saved, he opens the door to a wave of legal compensations that puts all superheroes out of business and into a relocation programme. Years later, Mr. Incredible, real name Bob Parr and wife Helen (Holly Hunter) – formerly Elastigirl – are trying to raise a ‘normal’ family when they receive a mysterious call for help, bringing them back into their crime fighting ways to save the world.

An interesting take on a similiar story covered by “Watchmen”, whereby superhero’s are resigned to living a normal life and attempting to fit into society, despite the superhuman powers they possess. The animation is second to none in the Pixar catalogue and it’s refreshing to have a cartoon with human characters as the main focus. There’s no cuddly sidekicks or talking animals, it’s all from the (human) heart this time, which is quite a brave change of direction for a Disney film. Thankfully for us though, it’s a winner and ranks as one the best that Pixar have produced. Great voice cast also, Nelson and Hunter are perfectly suited to their characters, as is Samuel L. Jackson as their sidekick ‘Frozone’ and Jason Lee as the evil nemesis ‘Syndrome’. They are all warm, humourous and believably written.

A bit overlong for younger viewers but bags of fun, once again, from the Pixar team. A real treat.

Mark Walker


Alice In Wonderland * * * *

Posted in Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 27, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Tim Burton.
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway, Matt Lucas, Tim Piggot-Smith, Frances de la Tour, Geraldine James.
Voices: Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall, Christopher Lee, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gough, Frank Welker.

Lewis Carroll’s classic tale “Alice in Wonderland” has been covered time and time again throughout the years but is there anyone more suited to a version than gothic visionary director Tim Burton?

Years after her adventures in Wonderland have become a dimly remembered dream, 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) takes a tumble into eerily familiar ‘Underland’, a realm of terror under the mad Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), who has usurped the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Disappointed she’s forgotten them, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and friends insist Alice is their prophesied champion returned and that she’s back to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.

Followers and avid fans of Lewis Carroll may not be happy with Tim Burton’s adjustment to the story. He has tweaked a few things, mainly changing Wonderland to Underland and making Alice older. They may seem like unnecessary changes but it’s allowed in adaptations and that’s exactly what this is, an adaptation. Not a complete transfer from page to screen. That being said, I still loved it. Burton can be a bit hit and miss of late but there’s no denying the splendid vision and imagination he has brought to this classic children’s adventure tale. Yes, it’s laden with CGI but it looks absolutely wonderful and everyone in it is perfectly cast. I normally can’t stand Bonham Carter but she is excellent as the tyrannical Red Queen with her shrunken body and bulbous head and Depp makes a very fine flame-haired, schizophrenic Hatter with convincing Scottish brogue, as well as a fine voice cast and a more than competent Wasikowska as the older Alice. To upset fans further though, Lewis Carroll’s word play, language and riddles are omitted but if you accept it as Burton’s variation then there is lots to be enjoyed.

An exciting, visually splendid undertaking from the (7th) Burton/Depp partnership. Pure fantastical escapism.

Mark Walker


The Hole * * *

Posted in Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 26, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Joe Dante.
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith.
Starring: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo, Bruce Dern, Quinn Lord, John DeSantis, Douglas Chapman, Mark Pawson, Dick Miller.

Is there any other director that can capture the adventurous imagination (Spielberg being a notable exception) like director Joe Dante? Done with the same awe and lighthearted feel that he brought with “InnerSpace”, “Explorers” & “Gremlins” and there’s even a shade of “The ‘Burbs” thrown in.

Doctor Susan (Teri Polo) uproots her two children, teen Dane (Chris Massoglia) and younger brother Lucas (Nathan Gamble), to that old cinematic staple, the small American town. Soon the kids, joined by literal gal-next-door Julie (Hayley Bennett), discover a bolted-up trapdoor in the basement, exposing a hole that’s seemingly endless and taps into each persons personal fears.

The master of the modern B-movie returns after a long hiatus and he hasn’t lost his touch, showing the same enthusiasm and tension we are used to from him. Much of the film is based on the relationships of the three young characters, rather than taking the most obvious root of diving straight into the action. When the action does happen, it’s impressively done, but unfortunately you can tell that it was intended to be viewed in 3D. On 2D it doesn’t have the same impact and this will probably be a common problem with films that rely heavily on that format. Nonetheless, it’s a well handled light horror that will appeal to all the family.

If your a fan of Dante’s earlier B-movie suburban adventure yarns, then you’ll find loads to enjoy with this recent addition.

Mark Walker


How To Train Your Dragon * * * *

Posted in Action, Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 24, 2012 by Mark Walker


Directors: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders.
Screenplay: Dean DeBlois, William Davies.
Voices: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller, Ashley Jensen, David Tennant.

If your a fan of “Shrek” then this recent Dreamworks animation should be right up your street. It’s yet another cartoon that will appeal to both children and adults.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a young Viking, who’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is the Chief of the dragon slayers in their village. Stoick has the same expectations of his young son and longs for the day when he will become a man and take his place in the clan. Unfortunately Hiccup doesn’t seem to have it in him. That is… until he tries to prove his people wrong and make his father proud of him, by venturing out to slay a dragon of his own. He wounds a dragon in flight and when he finds it, he can’t bring himself to kill it. Instead he nurses it back to health and in the process, creates a strong bond with it. The relationship between them brings a new outlook to Hiccup who now believes the way to protect his village and people is by befriending the dragons, not by slaying them, much to the chagrin of his father.

A brilliant little film with good humour, excellent animation and a surprising emotional core throughout, that’s normally not dealt with in animated films. The relationship between Hiccup and his father is delicate and the bonding between Hiccup and “Toothless” the dragon is very well structured and engaging which adds to the exciting, edge of your seat adventure they take you on.

Mark Walker


Where The Wild Things Are * *

Posted in Adventure, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 24, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Spike Jonze.
Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers.
Starring: Max Records, Cathrine Keener, Mark Ruffalo.
Voices: James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose, Spike Jonze.

Spike Jonze is a very imaginative director and I enjoyed his previous films (“Being John Malkovich” & “Adaptation”) but he has bitten off more than he can chew with this one. “Where the Wild things are” is based on the childrens story by Maurice Sendak. I admittedly haven’t read it but apparently it’s very short and only several pages long. If this is true then it shows in the translation to film.

Max (Max Records) a young boy who is having problems at home and to escape these problems, he allows his imagination to run wild. He arrives upon a land that strange creatures inhabit. They are looking for guidance and young Max is only too happy to be their leader in his fantasy world, but soon realises that these creatures have the same problems and emotions as people in the real world.

Despite director Spike Jonze being very creative in his earlier films, he has absolutely nothing to hold your interest here. The fact that the childrens book was brief doesn’t help the flow of this, as the film really drags and shows that there wasn’t enough material to adapt in the first place. It’s too childish for adults and too frightening (at parts) for children. In the end, the film can’t really identify with an age group and just meanders.

It felt like telling a toddler – lagging behind – to hurry up. Really it should be re-titled “Where’s the script writers at?”

Mark Walker


Ponyo * * * 1/2

Posted in Animation, Family, Fantasy with tags on January 19, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Hayao Mayazaki.
Screenplay: Hayao Mayazaki.
Voices: Tina Fey, Noah Cyrus, Frankie Jonas, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Cloris Leachman, Laraine Newman.

In a world of CGI animation it’s refreshing to know that Hayao Mayazaki (“Spirited Away”, “Howls Moving Castle”) will take us back to basics with his hand drawn art work, every so often.

This tells the story of Sosuke, a young boy who finds a little goldfish on the seashore one day. Sosuke and the goldfish become very attached and he decides to call her “Ponyo”. Ponyo has human features being the child of a magician and a sea godess and she longs to be fully human one day but her being out of the ocean causes an imbalance in nature and the balance can only be restored if she can be truly loved by Sosuke.

“Ponyo” is a treat for all ages and once again Mayazaki achieves in creating the look and feel of otherworldly places with his basic yet very effective art work. His characters are always endearing and well thought out but the only problem with “Ponyo” is that it lacks the darker side that “Spirited Away” benefited from. This leaves it a little whimsical and straying more to the childish side of animation.

However, this is a small criticism and it’s still difficult not to get swept away by the whole delightful adventure.

Mark Walker


Toy Story 3 * * * * *

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family with tags on January 14, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Lee Unkrich.
Screenplay: Michael Arndt.
Voices: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, R. Lee Ermey, Estelle Harris, Jodi Benson, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Kind, Whoopi Goldberg.

This is most likely the last adventure we’ll have with our plastic and stuffed little friends. So, it’d be wise to lap it up and enjoy it as much as you can. Thankfully, that’s not very hard to do with this wonderfully adventurous final

This time around, Andy is now 17yrs old, meaning that his old and faithful toys Woody, Buzz, etc. are now relegated to an old box and have not been played with for years. During a clearout before Andy leaves for college, the gang are mistaken for a bag of trash and left for the dumpster. Having escaped this minor mishap, all but Woody agree to be donated to a children’s daycare centre, where they will be valued and adored by kids other than Andy. Once at the daycare centre though, all doesn’t turn out as planned. It is controlled and run like a prison by a jealousy fuelled and tyrannical bear who has been abandoned by his previous owner, leaving Woody to rescue his old chums from their incarceration.

Pixar, yet again, manage to balance their film perfectly for the audience. Like the previous films, it appeals to both adults and children, which is probably the hardest task it had in being successful again. Without taking away from the familiar ones, the story is fleshed out with additional joyous characters, namely, the inclusion of a shallow Barbie & a dark and scheming Ken, to hilarious results. There is also a wonderful little homage to “Cool Hand Luke” when the toys are told if they step out of line they’ll “spend a night in the box”. Visually, it’s outstanding. The animators have really excelled themselves and it should be seen in glorious Imax 3D, to fully appreciate it’s intricate beauty.

A wonderfully exciting treat for all and several of cinema’s best little characters will be sorely missed, but in the words of Randy Newman’s recurrent song…Toy Story’s “got a friend in me”.

Mark Walker


Shrek Forever After * * * 1/2

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family with tags on January 14, 2012 by Mark Walker


Director: Mike Mitchell.
Screenplay: Josh Klausner, Darren Lemke.
Voices: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, Walt Dohrn, Mary Kay Place, Conrad Vernon, Larry King.

Everyone’s favourite rotund ogre returns in his final adventure in the land of Far Far Away, as Shrek goes fourth.

The story follows directly on from the third instalment where Shrek is now the married father of three little ogre’s. The problem being that Shrek doesn’t think he’s cut out for family life and starts to miss his previous life of being a swamp dwelling batchelor. It’s during this moment of reminiscence and weakness that he is approached by Rumpelstiltskin who seizes the opportunity to enter into a contract with Shrek, promising him his old life back. Unbeknownst to our green friend though, it changes everything and the land of Far Far Away becomes a dystopian land ruled by the tyrannical Mr. Stiltskin and everything Shrek had known, no longer exists. This being the case, the Shrekster has to set things right and enlist the help of his old and faithful friends.

A welcome return to form for the franchise, following the disappointing “Shrek the Third”. It uses a clever narrative device in the vain of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and allows the story to fall into an alternate reality and change everything that has gone before and with this being the premise, the Shrek tale is given more room for manoeuvre. The fact that Shrek has to re-acquaint himself with old chums, Donkey, Puss in Boots and Fiona is refreshing and works a treat. The only problem with the story is that Shrek himself as a character, is a little flat this time around and it is left up to the ever reliable and hilarious Donkey and a now over indulgent and obese Puss in Boots to provide the laughs. They are both great, if a little underused, as is a newly developed and hardened Gingerbread Man. The introduction of the odious and impish Rumpelstiltskin is also a welcome villian, as well as his accomplice the Pied Piper.

Back on form and as enjoyable as ever. It’s good to know that Shrek has went out on a high note.

Mark Walker