Shrek Forever After in 3-D

USA Today has just released the very first picture from May 2010’s Shrek Forever After, showing the eponymous ogre and the trickster Rumpelstiltskin. The previous films have made millions upon millions, making a fourth installment unsurprising. Personally, I had never been a fan of the first Shrek, but the second one definitely won me over with the hilarious Puss in Boots, Prince Charming and Jennifer Saunders’ hilarious turn as the Fairy Godmother. The third, I felt, was much weaker, but the numbers proved me wrong and if only out of curiosity, I’m thinking I’ll find myself catching this next year.

So here’s a look at what you can expect from the film, its plot and even a couple of its very famous guest stars.

Even fairy tales must come to an end.

The once-upon-a-time spoofing that began with 2001’s Shrek will conclude when Shrek Forever After, the fourth computer-animated comic adventure starring the hygiene-challenged ogre — and the first in 3-D — arrives May 21. A trailer premieres Dec. 18 at showings of Avatar.

“All that was loved about Shrek in the first film is brought to the final film,” promises Bill Damaschke, head of creative production at DreamWorks. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are back as the voices of Shrek, sidekick Donkey and ogress wife Fiona.

The premise is the Brothers Grimm meets It’s a Wonderful Life: After rescuing a princess, getting hitched and fathering triplets, Shrek is feeling over-domesticated. “He has lost his roar,” says director Mike Mitchell (Sky High, Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo). “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 wee troublemaker who popped up briefly in Shrek 2 and 3.

Though certain websites wrongly, and somewhat bizarrely, list Paul McCartney as the voice of the vile schemer, it is actually non-Beatle Walt Dohrn, the film’s head of story, who does the honors.

Of course, 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.

No Shrek outing would be complete without new characters, and there are a bunch. Comedians Kathy Griffin and Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) are witches who hunt ogres. On the side of good is an underground resistance group led by Jon Hamm of Mad Men. “He is the best-looking ogre you’ve ever seen,” Mitchell says.

So does Shrek Forever After wrap up with everyone living happily ever after? “I hate to give away the ending,” Mitchell says, “but yes.”

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If you’re a fan of the series, be sure to check out the collection of Shrek figures over at CmdStore. We’ve still got a few left from the second film, as well as a pair of figures from the Holiday special. My personal favourite item still available would have to be this set of toys, which comes with Puss in Boots, the Gingerbread Man and Pinocchio, too, plus a couple props that really help bring the set to life.

And for those seeking the original films, look no further an for all your Shrek-ing needs.

Shrek (Full Screen Single Disc Edition)
Shrek 2 (Widescreen Edition)
Shrek the Third (Widescreen Edition)
The Shrek Trilogy (Shrek / Shrek 2 / Shrek the Third) (Full Screen Edition)
Shrek the Halls