Review by Gary Murray


Shrek was a hit for Dreamworks a few years ago.  The animated adventure was of an ogre who rescues a princess to save his beloved swamp and along the way finds true love.  It was such a cinema success that the sequel was inevitable.  Shrek 2 broke box office records and was considered by some to be a better film than its predecessor.  Since Hollywood believes there is never too much of a good thing, the audience is now being treated with yet another tale in the world of Shrek, Shrek the Third.

The movie starts with Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) performing in bad dinner theater, barely making a living off his good looks and bad acting skills.  He knows that him having it all was the distance of an eyelash and that Shrek destroyed his plans.  He dreams of being back on top.  Then the story moves to Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) having to take on the roles of Royals.  The king of Far, Far Away is ill and there has to be someone to take on the role of kingdom management and protocol.  Shrek hates every aspect of pomp and circumstance, looking silly in the royal garb.  He still has Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss N Boots (Antonio Banderas) along for the ride, both still verbally swatting at each other and getting under the thin skin of our hero.  Furthermore, Shrek and Fiona have an undying affection for each other, but Fiona has a twinkle in her eyes.  She wants a family.  That detail is another nightmare inducing aspect of Shrek's life, so much so that he has bad dreams filled with spittle and dirty diapers.  Well, the king does croak (he was a frog prince) and Shrek is next in line to be king.  Shrek doesn't want any part of ruling the masses.  In his dying breath, the king tells of another in line - young Arthur.  Arthur (Justin Timberlake) is Shrek's way out of being king.  So, Shrek, Donkey and Puss N Boots all take off to find Arthur, leaving his pregnant bride.  Now the story splits in two.  Fiona has to run the kingdom as Prince Charming plots to take over.  But with a castle full of fairy tale princesses such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, her task is manageable.  Shrek finds Arthur at Medieval High School.  Arthur is anything but king material, more of a schemer than a valiant. The rest of Shrek the Third is Shrek trying to get Arthur back to Far, Far Away and along the way both of them finding out how two can bond in a father/son style relationship.

Since it is hard to compare acting, directing etc in an animated film, I'm just going to go with my observations.  First off, Shrek looked different in this outing.  He seemed bigger and badder, like an ogre on steroids. I found him more menacing and creepier.  The movie has to have a starting point but the death of the king was upsetting for a few of the kids in the attending audience.  Some of the jokes were over kid's heads but still in a bit of bad taste.  Another problem happens with the addition of major characters.  With all the individuals of King Arthur legend being added it squeezes out favorites from the other films.  All the development of Puss N Boots from Shrek 2 is lost in this outing.  Eric Idle of Monty Python fame voices Merlin but never gets to shine in the role.  With Shrek and Fiona separated, some of the luster is faded.  They work better together than apart.

I did love the Fast Times at Ridgemont High reference at Medieval High.  The animation is amazing, with digital waters that flow with choppy perfection.  The trees all seem to move individually.  The experience is an amazing technical feat, a very high bar of achievement.  The colors jumped off the screen and the soundtrack rocked, with a perfect use of Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song".  Sometimes different elements don't make a solid finished product.  There are rumors flying around that Shrek 4 and Shrek 5 are being planned along with a Puss N Boots movie.  All is fine and dandy but there is always too much of a good thing.   This time the film felt a bit tired and forced.  Shrek the Third is a good movie but not a great movie.  Out of the three, this is the weakest link.  But since the first two were so strong, that critique isn't a bad thing.

Visit the official DreamWorks SHREK THE THIRD movie website by clicking here.

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