Shrek's final chapter teaches men how to live happily ever after, and has a surprise in store for women as well.
Since 2001, audiences have been charmed by the big fat green Ogre known as Shrek, but in "Shrek Forever After," the title character has grown weary of his celebrity life and yearns for the freedom he had before marriage.
The new film by DreamWorks Animation features 3-D animation, and opens with a bored Shrek now settled into domestic life with his wife Fiona and their children.
Feeling over-domesticated and less manly, Shrek laments that his roar no longer sends the local villagers running in fear. Instead, the people he used to terrorize now run to him asking for his autograph.
In an attempt to regain his Ogre mojo, he strikes a deal with trickster Rumpelstiltskin, the wee troublemaker who popped up briefly in Shrek 2 and 3, to inject some excitement into his life again.
But the pact goes awry with Shrek being whisked away to an alternate Far Far Away, where Fiona is a hunted ogre, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Donkey and Shrek have never met. Puss in Boots is obese and lazy, Lord Farquaad is still alive, and Fiona has no idea who Shrek is.
Now Shrek must stop Rumpelstiltskin to save his friends, restore his world and reclaim his true love.
"Shrek" (first chapter, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson), was made with a budget of US$60 million, premiered in May, 2001 and took in more than $494 million worldwide. The film also won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
"Shrek 2" (directed by Andrew Adamson, Conrar Vernon and Kelly Asbury), was made with a budget of $150 million, premiered in April 2004, and grossed nearly $920 million worldwide.
"Shrek the Third" (directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui), was made for $160 million, premiered in May, 2007, and took in more than $798 million worldwide.
(Source: Box Office Mojo).
Director Mike Mitchell told Thanh Nien Weekly at an interview in Los Angeles last week that audiences would relate to the film because every man has at least once wanted to escape family life. But the movie will make them think again.
Men often wonder how their lives would be if they didn't have the responsibility of family life and the familiar daily annoyances that go along with it, Mitchell said.
But the film, which is set to open in May, features a final lesson for Shrek, and it will for male viewers as well, the director said.
"Shrek Forever After" is also meaningful to women, he said, explaining that the movie celebrates feminine strength.
Princess Fiona has in previous films always been the "damsel in distress" needing her lover to rescue her. But in the final chapter, she has to fight to save herself.
Mitchell said that the best thing about the new film is the mix of emotions it evokes.
Asked why the series should come to an end when Shrek is still so popular, Mitchell said that all the best things the character has to offer have been featured brilliantly in the quartet.
In the final chapter, the principal cast members - Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin and Dame Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian - all reprise their famous roles.