Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shrek Forever After Trailer

Really? Shrek Forever After? Did the world really need a fourth Shrek film? I'll rant more after the trailer.

I'm certain I've blogged this several times before, so I'll blog it again. I actually think the first Shrek film is pretty good. That being said, I wish people would stop calling it this brilliant satire of fairy tales. What happens in Shrek is when a fairy tale cliche starts rearing its head, one of the characters rolls his/her eyes and goes, "Oh, just like in every fairy tale!" That's not satire. That could be called sarcasm. That could be called self-referential. That could be called post-modern. But satire? Wrong use of the term.

Now that I'm done splitting lexiconic hairs, I think Shrek is pretty good.

On the other hand, Shrek 2 is the most god awful animated film ever made. It went from being a send-up (another good term we could use) of fairy tales to some kind of medeival Flintstones. You know what I'm talking about, right? On The Flintstones a lot of gags came from modern conveniences being made out of rock. Starting in Shrek 2, we started having a lot gags coming from modern conveniences being made out of medeival/fairy tale equivalents. All I know is I didn't find much of it very funny and came out of the theatre very disappointed.

I rented Shrek the Third out of curiosity about a year after it was in theatres. While I found it somewhat clever with some good gags, the beating of the dead horse was quite obvious.

And now we have Shrek Forever After, which promises to be the last in the saga. (I guess they abandoned plans to do a prequel about a teenage Shrek and how he first got his swamp. That was the original plan for #4, and it was going to be called Shrek Goes Fourth.) Instead, they jumped straight to the half-assed idea they had for a fifth film. Shrek is all domesticated and worried that he's lost his ogre fierceness, so he makes a deal with Rumplestiltskin to see what his life would be like if he never left the swamp and never had the wacky adventures of the first three films. *sigh* Many a TV critic has pointed out that alternate reality tales like this tend to be a shark-jumping moment.

All I know is I didn't laugh once during that trailer, and the whole franchise is starting to look very tired.

But wait! The franchise isn't done. Ever since #2, there's been talk of giving Puss-in-Boots a solo film, and it looks like we'll finally get that in 2013.

And it's sad. It'd be neat to do a book chronicling the history of the Shrek franchise. It all started with a children's book called Shrek!, written by William Steig, published way back in 1990. Steven Spielberg liked it, and snatched up the movie rights, hoping to turn it into an animated film. Spielberg had worked with Don Bluth on An American Tail and The Land Before Time, and wanted Bluth to direct. Spielberg was already envisioning Bill Murray voicing Shrek and Steve Martin voicing Donkey. However, Bluth didn't like working for Spielberg, and quickly ended their partnership.

I first heard of this as a film project way back in the mid-1990s, during my college days and when I first discovered movie news on the Internet. When I first heard of it, Shrek was going to be live-action, and they were going to use a new animation technique in which the "performance" of the actor would be "captured" on computer, and then used to created a computer generated character. This "performance capture" was to be the wave of the future we were told! Chris Farley signed on to play Shrek...and then Farley died, leaving the future of the project in doubt.

And then, they decided to make the whole thing animated. Mike Myers was talked into filling in for his old friend Farley, and a franchise was born.

And another interesting fact, too. This is the first Shrek film that will be in 3D. (Not counting the Shrek 4D 3-D film shown at Universal Studios.) All the way back in 2001, they'd hoped to release Shrek in 3D, but after doing some test footage, the directors figured that the technology just wasn't there yet.

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