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MIS­SION re­peated and ac­com­plished. Ogre and out. Cour­tesy of a scene-steal­ing vil­lain and a heav­ier tone than many might have ex­pected, the (re­port­edly) fi­nal chap­ter in the Shrek se­ries ends with both a bang and a whim­per. The ram­pant mis­chief rus­tled up by the no­to­ri­ous Rumpel­stilt­skin (voiced by Walt Dohm) keeps Shrek For­ever Af­ter in the fun zone through­out. This is im­por­tant, as the jolly green ogre who usu­ally steers all comic traf­fic spends much of the pic­ture in the grip of a rather bleak (by fam­ily-friendly stan­dards, at least) iden­tity cri­sis.

The story, which owes a con­sid­er­able debt to the Jimmy Ste­wart Christ­mas clas­sic It’s a Won­der­ful Life, picks up in the hap­pily-ev­er­after pe­riod pointed to by Shrek the Third.

Turns out all but Shrek (Mike My­ers) are en­joy­ing the easy life in the land of Far, Far Away.

He be­gins to long for the bad old days when ev­ery­one feared his ev­ery move. En­ter that rot­ten lit­tle Rumpel­stilt­skin to make Shrek an of­fer that can­not be re­fused.

Im­pec­ca­bly an­i­mated, the look and feel of Shrek For­ever Af­ter no­tice­ably re­duces the bright­ness and bounce once as­so­ci­ated with the fran­chise.

The snappy pop-cul­tural side gags that were also part and par­cel of the orig­i­nal Shrek ef­fect are also bumped down the to-do list here.

These changes ac­count for a rise in qual­ity from the very pedes­trian Shrek the Third.

Nev­er­the­less, it must be said that it is slightly dis­ap­point­ing Shrek For­ever Af­ter does not end with an un­equiv­o­cal good­bye to all that have trav­elled along­side the green gi­ant on his mag­i­cally mem­o­rable jour­ney. Shrek For­ever Af­ter Show­time Pre­miere, 8.30pm

Green ma­chine: Shrek

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