Best And Worst Of 'Shrek' Franchise
May 21st, 2010 9:10am EDT
Before Shrek, Dreamworks was having trouble competing with the powerhouse that was Pixar. The commercial and critical success of Shrek was just the boost they needed, and it is coming to an end this weekend with the supposed final film Shrek Forever After. Now it may be that this is hardly the last time anyone will see their favorite characters, like Donkey, Fiona, the big man himself Shrek, or Puss in Boots. There's other ways the media can utilize the popular tale, but for now, it looks like the movie series will be done after this. Let's take a look back at some of the best and worst moments from the Shrek movies, just in time to say farewell!
True Love's Kiss
Is there any doubt that the sweet ending to the first film should be at the top of the list? Shrek is a bitter and angry character for a great deal of the film, an ogre who no one likes, but he shows vulnerability as time goes on and his own insecurity as a "monster." It is by falling in love with Princess Fiona that he really opens himself up, and in a big dramatic moment he bursts into her wedding. Her evil fiance is swallowed, and as the kingdom looks on, he tells Fiona the truth. It is then she reveals the big secret about herself: she's under a spell that turns her into a "monster" at night. It is supposed to be broken by true love's kiss. When she kisses Shrek, however, it turns her into the ogre form full time ... because she's in true love's form. And they live happily ever after ... well, at least until the sequel.
I Need a Hero
Sequels aren't always handled well, but Shrek 2 was an exception. An Oscar-nominated exception! One of the best sequences in the movie, and there were several of them, was the build up to the last battle scene. The Fairy Godmother, voiced by Jennifer Saunders, gets on stage at "Shrek" and Fiona's party. Fiona thinks her son Charming is the human version of Shrek, and if she kisses him before the night is over she'll be his forever. The Fairy Godmother decides to set the mood by singing the song "I Need a Hero" as Shrek and his companions try to break into the palace so he can stop Fiona before it's too late. Not only is it well sung by Saunders, but the giant gingerbread man attacking the gates and the action sequences are all fantastically animated. They are always great at picking modern music and throwing it into the movies, but this scene in particular was very fun.
There were a lot of signs that this was not your typical animated series, what with its hero being a grumpy ogre and hating basically everything. There were also a great deal of digs at the Disney Corporation, and one in particular was amusing when Princess Fiona starts singing to a bird. Like the Disney heroines, the bird is drawn to her and sings back, and it looks like a nice lovely duet until Fiona starts hitting a high note. It goes so high, in fact, that it makes the bird implode. Fiona looks startled ... and then steals the bird's eggs, cooking them for breakfast. It was a nice jab at Disney and fit in well with the themes of the movie, plus it cemented the fact that Fiona wasn't as innocent and regal as she appeared to be at first.
The Addition of Puss in Boots
The trio of Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey was cemented from the first film, so when they announced a new character would burrow into the group, it was viewed with some skeptism. Would the character fit in or just feel like they forced him in? This became a pointless concern from the very first time Puss in Boots showed up in the film, and when Antonio Banderas' smooth Spanish accent could be heard. Hairball! With his adorable big eyes and Zorro-like sword skills, Puss was a welcome addition to the series.
Shrek the Third
Listen, this is not to say the entire movie was a mistake. There were some genuinely amusing scenes, lines, and worthwhile moments in the third film. As a whole, however, it didn't have the same spirit, wit, or heart that the first two films boasted. Perhaps it was because of the lack of subtly at times, like when Arthur basically spells out his parental abandonment issues at the fire, or how Shrek's nightmares about Fiona's pregnancy are blatantly on the nose. It was difficult to believe that Arthur's last speech would be enough to 'fix' everything, and by that point it seemed like he was the main character more than Shrek. It wasn't a bad film, it just was a dip in quality for the series, and since most of the first two movies were fantastic, it's really the only glaring problem in an otherwise strong franchise. Sorry, Shrek the Third. Hopefully Shrek Forever After won't follow in your footsteps.
Photo Credits: Dreamworks.