The fourth (and apparently last) Shrek movie has opened to considerably more in the way of praise, but considerably less in the way of box office receipts, compared with its little-liked predecessor. I imagine that in a few years we’ll be seeing more from this franchise, but anyway; composer Harry Gregson-Williams has accompanied Shrek on all his journeys to date (in conjunction with John Powell on the first score, but solo ever since). There is little which is new or particularly surprising in this fourth score, but (as is the case surprisingly often when it comes to sequels) the music just seems more rounded here, lacking the jagged edges and individual moments of distinction of the earlier scores but bringing things together in a very nice package.
Many familiar themes return, including the sweet-and-lovely main theme; I often moan about the lack of good themes in scores for modern blockbusters, so I’ll celebrate this one. There’s good action music, too – and unlike in the third score (and to an extent the first two), it’s pretty coherently presented, not just flitting about for a few seconds before moving on to something else – those rounded edges I mentioned. There’s a brief return for the guitar music for Puss in Boots which is very welcome – and a soaring, very satisfying finale. As I said, much of the material is rather familiar – but this is probably the most satisfying of all the Shrek albums and should appeal to fans of good-natured orchestral adventure scores in general (and of course Gregson-Williams fans in particular). *** 1/2