Posted on 8/07/10 07:40 AM
New York's intense street dancing underground comes alive in eye-popping Digital 3D in the third installment of the "Step Up" franchise as the raw, passion-fueled culture goes global. A tight-knit group of street dancers, including Luke and Natalie, team up with NYU freshman Moose, and find themselves pitted against the world's best breakdancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever. (Touchstone Pictures)
Let's face it: By now, nobody goes to a STEP UP movie expecting plot and character development. If you do, I will personally go up to your front door and slap you in the face. The plot is so predictable that the only way you don't know what's coming is that this is the first film you've ever seen. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The sequels in this franchise never take itself too seriously. In fact, you can tell in this film that the clichéd plot was just an excuse to showcase some of the best dance sequences you will ever see in your life. The filmmakers know it's all BS. The audience knows it's all BS. You just go along with the ride.
The first film featured a highly idiotic soap opera that really didn't work for me. The sequel, however, was considerably more energetic and fun in almost every way. Jon Chu returns to the director's chair since STEP UP 2 and steps everything up (see what I did there?) on a whole new level. It has two things going for it: The crazy dance moves and 3D. And because of that, the film is totally worth watching in theaters. It's a visual feast and the songs are foot-popping fun!
Hey, you laugh now, thinking, "Does a movie like this really need to be in 3D?" Let's be honest here: Does ANY movie have to be in 3D? No, but studios make them in 3D anyway. STEP UP 3D utilizes the 3D technology in the best possible way since AVATAR. You read it right. The 3D was AH-MAZE-ING. From the opening studio logos to the end credits, your jaw will remain dropped. THIS is how you make a 3D movie. THIS is what 3D was made for. I can't believe it took a STEP UP movie to show studios out there how 3D should be utilize because this is why 3D was made in the first place. The true potential of this technology is used in the dance sequences. Wow oh wow. No mere words can describe the awesomeness of it all. More on that later. The technology is used in a gimmicky fun sense and to project a depth in many scenes. The 3D is so good that I already spent one huge paragraph writing about it.
The dance sequences are also insanely unreal. There comes a point where characters even defy gravity! How awesome is that?! And although new hip-hop moves are the main focus in the film, there are many other styles of dance that will appeal to every demographic, including a wonderful tango scene and a "Singin' in the Rain"-esque tribute, paying homage to the classic musicals in the past in all one shot, nonetheless.
The castmembers are efficient enough, although nothing to scream about. Rick Malambri and Sharni Vinson are sweet and believable in their roles. However, Adam G. Sevani and Alyson Stoner take the cake. Sevani returns from the second film and he's just a likable actor. It's hard to hate him. Stoner returns from the first film, in which she was a little kid! Sevani and Stoner have chemistry and their scenes in the film are just really sweet. However, my favorite characters in the film are the twins, Martín and Facundo Lombard. You'll see why once you see the film. There are also some surprise cameos here that I dare won't spoil because it would ruin the fun.
So overall, it all boils down to this: Are you the person who's willing to shell out $10+ to see this film in 3D just for the dance moves? If not, don't see the film. If you're a person who wants to see a plot and some great character development, don't see the film. However, if you just want to have a good time at the movies, STEP UP 3D delivers in every way. It's a highly energetic film that is so persistent in trying to "wow" the audience with fantastic dance moves. On top of that, it's one of the very few films out there that utilizes the 3D technology so well that it should be seen in 3D. STEP UP 3D is a cinematic experience.
Posted on 7/30/10 12:56 PM
As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who Is Salt?" (Columbia Pictures)
SALT is preposterous, absurd, and unbelievable. The filmmakers know this very well. Yet, it's an extremely well made action flick. Unlike INCEPTION, SALT never tries to be groundbreaking cinema. It's never too ambition and wrapped in its own world. It never tries to be anything more than what it really is: A highly enjoyable action film. AKA: The perfect summer movie. Because of this, SALT succeeds in almost every level.
Star Angelina Jolie actually brings the film on another level. She's just very impressive in her role, bringing an emotional depth for her character and doing the terrific stunt works throughout the film. She does it all here, leaping from the tops of vehicles driving at high speed on the highway, making an exploding device with a fire extinguisher and some household chemicals, and running with no shoes on from one place to another, just to name a few. She's clearly THE female action hero. Liev Schreiber doesn't seem to have much to do but he's as good as always. I also liked seeing Chiwetel Ejiofor in more films because he's a unique actor.
The film is also filled with many chase scenes that are done really well that is sure to pump up your adrenaline. The action sequences are surprisingly inventive and ingenious as well, the soundtrack by the brilliant James Newton Howard accompanying it with skill and playfulness. Let's not forget the light use of CGI and camera shakiness, making the experience a whole lot better than it already is.
Overall, SALT shows us that Angelina Jolie is still the great action star that she always was and that action flicks can still be well made. While it won't change the world, it's a very entertaining summer action film that is sure to result in the same reaction the condiment of the very same name produced.
Posted on 7/16/10 02:15 PM
INCEPTION is a film in which you want to go in knowing nothing because it's best seen with no prior knowledge. So I'm just going to not say a word about the plot and have the film unfold in front of you, sometimes literally. It's pretty difficult to explain what INCEPTION really is because it's damn packed with so many interesting ideas. Really, when you come out of the theater, you'll only think, "What did I just see?" The film is filled with so much ambition and so many original ideas that it captivates you. In fact, I think this is the fastest 150 minute film I've ever seen because it felt like 80 minutes! I really wanted to see more when the credits rolled.
Unfortunately, INCEPTION isn't a perfect film. It falls short on its ambition. Some ideas weren't as developed as I hope they would be and others weren't presented clear enough. In fact, it's as if the characters spoke in another type of jargon exclusively made for psychologists pursuing in the career of dreams. Also, the story isn't all that special. Another common complaint you might hear about the film is that the characters are flat. It's true. The film presents us with six or seven characters but does absolutely nothing with them. Leonardo DiCaprio's character is the only character that's fleshed out. In some cases, I didn't care for the characters when their lives were at stake.
Still, the performances by the ensemble cast are really good. I enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy in their roles a lot. I might not be the only person to notice this but I thought Leonardo DiCaprio played the exact same character as he did in SHUTTER ISLAND. I couldn't get past Ken Watanabe's thick accent. It was hard to understand him in many of his scenes. Marion Cotillard did a great job, though.
The film is also visually intricate, if that makes sense and even that description doesn't give the film justice. Again, it's really hard to explain. The visual effects were really excellent along with the action scenes but don't expect this film to be filled with action. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (AKA: One of the best composers ever) is fantastic, much like Zimmer's other soundtracks.
Overall, INCEPTION is a flawed but seriously excellent film that presents some very, very, very interesting ideas. It's a wholly original film, which is great considering the amount of remakes, re-imaginings, sequels, prequels, etc. that we've gotten in the past few years, let alone this year. The characters could have been fleshed out a lot more. Still, I was absolutely engaged throughout by the story, and Christopher Nolan's ingenious script and direction just sucks you in. This is the perfect cure for this year's lackluster summer.
Posted on 7/04/10 03:34 PM
Air, Water, Earth, Fire. Four nations tied by destiny when the Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others. A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction. Caught between combat and courage, Aang discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. Aang teams with Katara, a Waterbender, and her brother, Sokka, to restore balance to their war-torn world. Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series, the live-action feature film The Last Airbender is the opening chapter in Aang's struggle to survive. --© Paramount
I have never seen so much hate unfairly lashed upon a film that didn't deserve it. I have to say this now: Coming from someone who hasn't seen the cartoon series that the film is based on, TLA is not a bad film...at all. I would even bet my life that people who hated M. Night Shyamalan's last two films (which is quite a lot) would enjoy this film a whole lot more because it's his most commercial film to date. For those who are a fan of the show, let's talk about that later.
Let's start off with the things that were bad. Season one of the TV show runs barely under 500 minutes long. The film, on the other hand, runs about 90-95 minutes long without credits, which cuts about 80% from the show. You see the problem already? With such a short running time, especially for an adaptation (which, in my opinion, should be at least two hours), it's only appropriate to expect the dialogue to be filled with exposition. Imagine this: What's the fastest way to present a load of information to an audience in such a short amount of time? Just tell them right up front, of course! It was awkward at first, but I quickly got used to it after the first ten minutes. Sure, while it's a bit "elementary" for a screenwriter to "tell, not show," it's not as problematic as people make it out to be. But, then again, it may be just me.
Because of the explanatory dialogue, the film's characters are developed as much as what they say. They are not as multi-layered and complex as the characters in a Pixar film. They are just presented in the most simplistic way with the most common emotions. It's clear and to the point that you just have to go along with it (if you're willing to). The film also suffers from inconsistent pacing. The film is a bit fast paced AND slow paced in different parts of the film, which is odd, even for an M. Night film. It was fast paced because the film presented a wealth of information in such a short period of time and when the film finally slows down, it meanders.
The characters, on the other hand, I quite enjoyed. This is where the positives come in. Noah Ringer is as good as Daniel Radcliffe in his first Harry Potter film, which isn't saying much but it's good enough for me. His karate moves, however, are very excellent, which makes one wonder he was chosen for that aspect than his acting aspect. I liked Nicola Peltz a lot because she played such a "bad ass" character. I just love her angry face because she looked like she was about to rip out someone's heart! Hey, she's a better role model for teen girls out there than Bella Swan. Jackson Rathbone is, uh, interesting. At times, he's decent, but, at others, he's very awkward when delivering some lines. Dev Patel plays your typical "threatening voice" villain who I hope will be more fleshed out in the sequels. Shaun Toub seems to be the best of the bunch as Zuko's heartfelt uncle.
On a technical level, the film is pretty much perfect. The sets, costume designs, and visual effects are all commendable. I thought it was fascinating to see another mythical world, other than Hogwarts. The action sequences are pretty amazing. Adding on to the fact that most are single shots is pretty fantastic. Say what you want about M. Night but he knows how to orchestrate an action scene. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard is brilliant as always. For those avid soundtrack collectors, try listening to "Flow Like Water."
Overall, while the film is not as good as the HARRY POTTER and the LORD OF THE RINGS films, it's certainly not as bad as other adaptations, including THE GOLDEN COMPASS, INKHEART, ERAGON, and THE SEEKER. For a director who usually makes slow burning small films, I was impressed with what M. Night did here. I was thoroughly engaged and entertained throughout and found the world of TLA to be captivating. I will admit that the film certainly could have been better but it's really not as bad as people and critics make it out to be. I think fans of the show would find the film more problematic than others because I would imagine many changes were made for the film. Otherwise, go see the film.
Posted on 6/30/10 02:03 PM
Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life. (Summit Entertainment)
Once the opening scene is over and the title appears with Howard Shore's epic soundtrack playing in the background, you know that ECLIPSE is going to be good. Unlike NEW MOON, there's actually SOMETHING happening in here! There are characters DOING things, which is something more I can say for the previous sequel. And because the film has a very interesting plot akin to a horror film, ECLIPSE is easily the most exciting and cinematic film in the series!
But just because there is a body count doesn't rule it out as a romance. Yes, the romance is still here. Yes, there is still the love triangle. Yes, Bella still has to choose between Edward and Jacob. But all of this is not as bad and tedious as you might think mostly due to Melissa Rosenberg's screenplay. This time around, she decides to add clever lines and something called humor into the romance. For example, in one scene, Edward asks Bella about Jacob, "Doesn't he have a shirt?" It's little scenes like these that make the love story a lot less cheesy and more welcoming compared to the first two films which everything was so serious they could pass for soap operas.
Like the HARRY POTTER series, it's interesting to see different styles from the many directors that are attached for each film. With David Slade now on the directing chair, the film is improved with a much tighter direction and a faster pace. With experience from the horror genre, Slade knows how to create exciting action sequences. In fact, Slade pulls no punches in the climatic battle scene(s). Honestly, you get your money's worth. Who knew a TWILIGHT film would have the most beheadings in a PG-13 film? Honestly, there were some really brutal scenes.
The cast is still good but more mature in their roles. Kristen Stewart gives a wonderful performance as always. I also liked Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, especially in one scene where they get to spew out clever dialogue at one another about how they're the better man for Bella. Anna Kendrick, who had her rise of fame in UP IN THE AIR last year, doesn't appear much in the film, unfortunately, but it's always great to see her when she does, including one important scene. Billy Burke is still the same great father we saw him in the previous two films.
Most of the Cullen clan have considerably more to do in this sequel, most notably Jackson Rathbone. There are even origin stories on two of them, both of which are very interesting while one of them is eerily similar to Bill Compton's in TRUE BLOOD. Xavier Samuel plays the new villain and he gives a menacing performance. Bryce Dallas Howard replaces Rachelle Lefevre as the new Victoria and she does a good job as well, although she's underused.
Even the visual effects are improved! I didn't know how they did it, but the sparkling skin on Edward is suddenly not laughable anymore. I also liked the look of the CGI wolves and their interactions with the actors. There's one scene with Bella petting Jacob in his transformation and it looked believable. Oh, and it's great to listen to Howard Shore's soundtrack along with seeing the sweeping cinematography.
While it won't bring newcomers to the franchise, ECLIPSE is an improvement over NEW MOON. The romance is less cheesy, the action scenes are a lot bigger, the plot is a lot more interesting, and the film finally has a sense of humor. If you're not a fan of the TWILIGHT saga, you know what to do without me telling you. However, for the fans of the series, you'll be completely satisfied.
Posted on 6/27/10 04:06 PM
The A-Team follows the exciting and daring exploits of a colorful team of former Special Forces soldiers who were set up for a crime they did not commit. Going "rogue," they utilize their unique talents to try and clear their names and find the true culprit. (20th Century Fox)
THE A-TEAM is the typical movie you would expect in the summer. Yet what makes the film work is by its castmembers. My favorite character from the group of guys is Murdock, played by an unrecognizable Sharlto Copley, figuratively speaking. Murdock is such a crazy, insane character that I loved every minute of him! Copley really did give the role its justice. Liam Neeson also gives a very good performance as the team's leader. Bradley Cooper gives us a comedic role who's half naked through most of the film. Lastly, Quinton Jackson impressed me with his Mr. T impression.
But let's not forget about the beautiful and sexy Jessica Biel. She gives a convincing performance as an FBI agent. On the other hand, it was very weird to see Patrick Wilson play a villain role. It was hard for me to get used to it.
As expected, most of the action sequences are incomprehensible and an assault to the senses. However, I do admit the climax action sequence is very impressive. Still, with all the ridiculousness that ensues, I enjoyed the action very much. I shouldn't talk about the plot much because it's clichéd and have been done many times before.
It's apparent that the castmembers had a fun time while making the film and there's no reason you shouldn't as well. It's a fun film from beginning to end, although there are some very, very, very ridiculous action scenes. Also, the chemistry between the actors is fantastic.
Posted on 6/27/10 04:06 PM
Toy Story 3 is a comical new adventure in Disney Digital 3D that lands the toys in a room full of untamed tots who can't wait to get their sticky little fingers on these "new" toys. It's pandemonium as they try to stay together, ensuring "no toy gets left behind." Meanwhile, Barbie comes face to plastic face with Ken (yes, that Ken). (Disney, Pixar)
The third movie curse. Time and time again have shown us that the third film of every trilogy is always the weakest of the bunch, and it's usually true. However, since this is PIXAR we're talking about, TOY STORY 3 is a huge exception (emphasis on the word "huge"). In fact, I'll go further and say that TOY STORY 3 is the best in the trilogy, by far. Unlike most PIXAR films, the first two Toy Story films never try to be profound. They have always been about it's lovable, plastic, toy characters portraying true, human emotions and that's what makes them so brilliant to begin with!
TOY STORY 3 is no different. We see our beloved characters return to the silver screen again for their last adventure, and it's a big one. The story also carries more weight. Like SHREK FOREVER AFTER, there's a lot at stake compared to the previous films, so much so that the characters' lives are at risk, which is appropriate, considering this is the last film and all. Although the darkest of the bunch (you'd be surprised how much PIXAR could squeeze into this G-rated flick), the film manages to perfectly blend the dark moments with light-hearted moments. In fact, TOY STORY 3 is hilarious, filled with witty jokes and perfect comedic timing from the toys! The toys!
The story is well written, thanks to Michael Arndt, who also wrote the script for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. It's different from the previous PIXAR films in a way that there is a lot of suspense and excitement going on. In fact, there's a sequence in the third act that had me on the edge of my seats and crying at the same time! How that sequence alone could pass the MPAA's G-rated standards is beyond my knowledge. The film also gets its try at the horror genre, and I have to admit, they are legitimately scary.
As said before, most of our characters return, although some, most notably Bo Peep, are not to be seen, which is kinda depressing for me. However, we get to meet some new characters along the way, my favorite being Ken, Barbie's love interest. He's such a fantastic, colorful character and he provides most of the film's funniest jokes. I also liked Trixie, the new dinosaur, although she was underused in the film. Oh, and I loved what the filmmakers did to Buzz Lightyear. I'm not going to spoil it but it's very funny.
What brings this film on a level far greater than the first two films is the theme of being able to let go, which us movie goers will also have to go through when watching the film and because of this, it reaches a deeper emotional depth than ever before. I guarantee that you will cry in this film and if you don't, you might as well be a robot. The animation is also substantially better than the previous two films' already impeccable animation, showing how far even Pixar's technology has advanced.
As a send off to the series, TOY STORY 3 can't be any more perfect, especially the last scene. The opening sequence alone is worth the price of admission just because it brings back the nostalgia from the two previous films. The film is filled with suspense, romance, adventure, horror, comedy, and, let's not forget, heart. While other movie studios try to release good films (yeah, right), PIXAR is the only movie studio that has gotten all 100% of their films right. See this film not because it's the last time we may see these characters. See it because it's a cinematic masterpiece, an end of a golden era. It's the best film of the year so far. Let's hope a TOY STORY film finally receives the Oscar it deserved fifteen years ago.
It should also be noted that the short that appears before this film, DAY & NIGHT, is bloody brilliant. The short is so original, so wonderful, so mind blowing that it's an obvious Oscar contender for Best Short. I'm still awestruck at how original the short is.
Posted on 6/27/10 03:54 PM
A chance encounter thrusts a woman and a charming but lethal operative into a series of adventures across the globe. As if dodging assassins and uncovering world-changing secrets weren't enough, she must now figure out if he is a good guy, a traitor -- or just plain crazy. (20th Century Fox)
K&D surprised me in a way that it isn't as mindless and dumb as the previews make it out to be. In fact, it reminded me of the spy movies in the 80s and 90s. There's actually a thoroughly engaging plot line and well developed characters we can root for. Because of this, K&D is one of the better popcorn films this summer. But let's not rule out the action because there are some absurd action sequences in here, although they looked very realistic compared to the action in THE A-TEAM I've experienced a couple of days ago.
K&D doesn't dive right into the action like most action films do these days. It takes its time establishing the characters and the situations they are in, and I appreciated that. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz reunite once again after their last film together, VANILLA SKY, and it's their chemistry together that makes the film work so well. Tom Cruise looks like he's having the time of his life playing such a crazy character, although some would joke that he acts like that in real life. I enjoyed his character a lot and there's this unique charisma that only Tom Cruise himself can pull off. What can I say? I'm easily charmed by him. I also enjoyed Cameron Diaz very much in her very funny role as the person who can't believe she's in the situation she is in. Peter Sarsgaard, on the other hand, isn't really all that noteworthy. However, it's always great to see Viola Davis in any role she's in.
But when the film finally goes for the action scenes, they aren't really over-the-top, with an exception of one or two--okay, maybe three sequences. The film keeps us grounded to reality in a way that it doesn't defy gravity and physics. I must say, though, as ridiculous as the car chase sequences may be, they are really impressive to watch. I haven't seen this good of car stunts since I rewatched Quentin Tarantino's DEATH PROOF a couple of months ago. There's also quite a bit of comedy as well. The comedic timing between Cruise and Diaz is fantastic. The film blends the action, comedy, and romance as if it was a piece of cake.
And let's not forget the locations. The film jumps from many different countries that I thought were stunning to look at. All I could think was, "Wow. I really need to get out there." The pacing is also great because I've never once found myself bored or uninterested. John Powell's score is, in a way, copied and pasted from his score for MR. AND MRS. SMITH which disappointed me after his magnificent score from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.
Overall, K&D certainly isn't your usual mindless and dumb popcorn flick of the summer. It's a thoroughly entertaining film with some great action sequences, a fantastic chemistry between Cruise and Diaz, and an interesting story with some thought put into it. It has action, romance, and comedy. Need I say more?
Posted on 6/11/10 04:47 PM
12-year-old Dre Parker could've been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother's latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts "the karate kid" on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han, who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life. --© Sony
I'm sorry. It's not going to wait. I have to say it now: THE KARATE KID is easily one of the best movies of the year. And I'll be honest, I'm pretty glad to say that because it has been a pretty mediocre year for movies so far, and we're halfway through it! But before I say anything else, I need to come clean and say I haven't seen the original film. OK. Now I got that out of the way, let's begin. I liked the story a lot. Sure, underdog films are predictable, but I personally enjoy them immensely, especially if they're well made, like this film. There's a lot of heart in here.
The thing that stuck out most for me in this film is the setting of China. The film really benefits from this because there are rarely any Hollywood films that take place in this beautiful country. It's great to see scenes that are on location from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall. There's no CGI or built sets from California. The scenery is just fascinating. What you see is what you get. And seeing the story takes place in this country, there's an authentic feel that is brought to the film. The gorgeous cinematography just adds more to the "wow" factor to audiences who have never been to China.
The second thing that impressed me was the diverse cast. It's great to see Asians and African Americans filling the roles of a Hollywood film. You don't see that much these days. And the missing stereotypes is a huge plus in my book! Some of you might be hesitant about Jaden Smith playing the lead role but I gotta tell you, this kid has a lot of acting chops. His performance is vulnerable and you sympathize for his character. Oh, and this is the best performance I've ever seen from Jackie Chan. He gives a really powerful and emotional performance. There was one or two scenes that made me cry because of how raw his acting was. The chemistry between these two actors could not have been better. Taraji P. Henson is good although wasn't as great as Smith and Chan. Lastly, Wenwen Han was pretty good as Smith's love interest.
Now, the fight scenes. You wouldn't notice by the trailers but, I have to admit, they were pretty damn brutal and shocking. The fact that most of the fighting is done by kids just adds on to the surprisingly heavy quality of the film. The running time for the film is around 140 minutes, which may seem long and tedious and more than it should be, but due to the great pacing of the film, you would hardly notice it at all. It gives the characters, especially our protagonist, time to develop and grow. The score by Howard Shore is fantastic as well.
Overall, THE KARATE KID is THE movie to see this summer. The performances are freaking fantastic and the third act will certainly make you stand up and cheer. It's also a great movie for all ages. Sure, the story is predictable but it's well made and there's a lot of heart to it. If that's not good enough for an underdog film, then what is? I know it's stupid and clichéd but I'll just say it: The film is a winner!
Posted on 5/23/10 05:10 PM
Shrek is feeling over-domesticated in the fourth installment. He has lost his roar. It used to send villagers running away in terror. Now they run to him and ask him to sign their pitchforks and torches. To regain his ogre mojo, he strikes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin. The pact goes awry and Shrek must confront what life would be like in Far Far Away if he had never existed. That translates into Donkey being forced into cart-pulling duty, fat and lazy Puss in Boots trading his sword for a pink bow and the underhanded Rumpelstiltskin ruling the kingdom.
It's official: Dreamworks has crap marketing when promoting their movies. As some of you might have noticed, the marketing for the final chapter of Shrek seemed lukewarm and tepid, to say the least. Fortunately, the film is anything but that. In fact, I have to say that SHREK 4 is a surprisingly dark finale for the franchise. SHREK 4 plays out like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE with Shrek being the protagonist. The main reason this film succeeds is because there is a strong story to be told, unlike part 3. The story plays out as straightforward as it could be, which works really well. There are no twists and turns and unnecessary subplots. This way, we feel more connected with Shrek and his goal.
The heart, which was lacking in the last film, is back in here, which is more of a welcome. There are a lot of depressing and serious moments in here as well as some very moving scenes that will make some people cry. However, all is not somber. There are plenty of hilarious moments in here too, most of which are coming from Donkey and Puss in Boots, as well as some new ogre characters. Other new characters include Rumpelstiltskin, a fantastic and devilish villain, and the ingenious use of Pied Piper.
I would also like to point out the fantastic soundtrack by Harry Gregson-Williams. He incorporates the previous themes in the series and made them much more personal and heartfelt than ever before. The use of the 3D is also put to good use, rather than have things pop out for every five minutes. Maybe the only complaint I had is that the climax battle is a bit weak, much like IRON MAN 2. While not as great as the first two, I much prefer this film to be the ending to the series than the disappointing third film. With a strong story, great characters, and a good moral, SHREK 4 may as well be the first great film of the summer.