Dreamworks Animation Screens 30 Minutes of Shrek Forever After

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Dreamworks Animation hosted a special event today in Los Angeles to celebrate its animated offerings for the year, including a first look at 30 minutes of Shrek Forever After.

Director Mike Mitchell took the stage, reiterating that this fourth “Shrek” film will be the final entry in the series (though the “Shrek” universe will continue on with the spin-off feature Puss In Boots, scheduled for November 4, 2011).

Screened for an eager audience was, straight through, the first thirty minutes of the new film in 3D, which opens with storybook narration, recounting Shrek’s previous adventures. We’re then taken to a “carriage park” (imagine a redneck trailer park, but with fairytale witches and vampires living out of their carriages) as the King and Queen of Far, Far Away reluctantly drive through to a meeting with Rumpelstiltskin (and his surprisingly sinister-looking pet, a sharp-toothed duck named Fifi). There, the diminutive creature (voiced by Dreamworks Animation production artist Wal Dohrn) tries to get them to sign a contract, trading their kingdom to have Fiona’s curse lifted. Just as they are about to sign, someone barges in and tells them that the curse has been lifted, as per the events of the first “Shrek” film.

We cut back to the storybook with the narrator, now revealed to be Rumpelstiltskin himself, sitting in a bookstore, furiously talking about how Shrek ruined his chances at ruling Far, Far Away.

Shrek, meanwhile, is living an idyllic life with Fiona and his kids. Donkey drops by with his own dragon/donkey offspring and every day a tour bus passes and tourists happily photograph the formerly terrifying ogre. Quickly, this builds to a montage, revealing that, as happy as Shrek is, the monotony is getting to him. He finally reveals to Fiona that he wishes he could have just a single day of being a monster again.

Setting himself up in a false carriage accident, Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek into stopping to help him in the middle of the woods. Pretending to be grateful, he tells Shrek that, if he’s willing to give up a single past day of his, he can magically arrange a day for him to be a real ogre again. Suggesting that it could be a day when he was a baby that he won’t even remember, Rumpelstiltskin convinces Shrek and he signs a lengthy contract.

Suddenly coming to in the woods, Shrek spots “WANTED” posters with his face and, to his delight, realizes that his wish has come true: he can terrorize the village again. In a musical montage, he does just that, happily causing havoc and chasing townspeople (all set to The Carpenters’ “Top of the World”).

Later, though, Shrek spots another poster, this one with Fiona’s face. Realizing something is wrong, he returns to the town and realizes things aren’t as he planned; Ogres are being rounded up and imprisoned in the castle by the new ruler, Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek himself is captured and brought in by two witches, in a carriage pulled by Donkey (who, in this reality, never met Shrek).

On the way into town, there’s a great appearance by Gingerbread man who, in the alternate timeline, is a Roman-style gladiator, fighting animal crackers in a miniature stadium.

At the palace, Shrek comes before Rumpelstiltskin in a sort of witch-filled nightclub. The villain reveals that the day that was taken from Shrek was the day he was born and, as such, he never really existed. When the 24 hours are up, Shrek will vanish forever.

Furious, Shrek breaks free of his chains and grabs an unwitting Donkey, battling witches and escaping from the palace, the clock quickly running out to find a loophole in Rumpelstiltskin’s contract.

Shrek Forever After is set to hit conventional 3D theaters and IMAX 3D on May 21st.

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