I finally saw this movie, and I must say I was impressed: after Shrek The Third I thought the franchise was becoming complacent and falling in quality. But this movie is almost as good as the first, with better action, themes and even pathos than the last two films.
The plot is ripped off from It’s A Wonderful Life, with Shrek seeing what the world would have been like if he’d never been born. Rumpelstiltskin tricked Shrek into signing a magical contract so he can have one day without responsibilities. Unknown to him, however, this causes Rumpel to become the ruler of Far, Far Away (he tricked Fiona’s parents into giving him the throne) and he runs the land tyrannically; Fiona leads a revolt against him. Worse, if Shrek doesn’t get a True Love Kiss from Fiona (who doesn’t remember him) in one day, he’ll vanish forever!
Using the “Wonderful Life” premise at first seemed out of the left field, but it worked well; it gave the story a credible way to return all the characters to their original situations from the first film, and it helped Shrek to realize he wasn’t truly appreciating the things he had. Rumpelstiltskin made an effective villain that ranged from hilarious to scary at different points. And Fat Puss In Boots turned out to be more than a sight gag. The dialog was also surprisingly effective (“Why weren’t you there when I needed you?”). My only question: how come none of the witches actually used magic, only magical items?
Oh, and it has the best music since the second movie.
So all in all, this was a successful return to greatness for the franchise… sadly, this is supposed to be the last Shrek movie ever. ;( Unless those rumors I hear of a prequel starring [STRIKE]Antonio Banderas[/STRIKE] Puss In Boots are true…