We went to see Shrek the Third this past weekend. In the back of your mind any time you go to the sequel to the sequel is the question of whether the creators can bring anything fresh to the work. Not that every sequel needs to be thoroughly innovative. There are formulas that you don't want to mess with. Every Three Stooges movie was pretty much the same as the other (discounting the unfortunate changes in the "Curly" role), but you had to like each one because it somehow managed to put the Stooge schtick in a different enough vehicle to allow you to enjoy the same old stuff in a new way.
Shrek the Third is the same premise as the first two films in the series -- an ogre in the land of Far, Far Away, a land populated by fairy-tale characters. But that's okay. It's a good schtick. And this is a fun movie. The same cast is here, wonderfully anchored by Mike Myers, Antonio Banderas, Cameron Diaz (whom I have never liked in anything else), and the irrepressible Eddie Murphy. This story introduces two new characters -- Arthur, whose voice is contributed by Justin Timberlake, and Merlin, hilariously portrayed by Eric Idle.
Although the movie makers didn't venture into any new ground with the story, they didn't just rest on their laurels either. If you're the adult accompanying the kids to this movie, and maybe you're just a little tiny bit too sophisticated to laugh at the slapstick and fart jokes, take a look at the animation in this film. There is a scene where King Harold, who happens to be a frog, is dying. Watch the skin on the frog. Or Prince Charming's hair. Or the close-up's of the cloth in Shrek's shirt.. There is some incredible detail in the artwork of this movie. This movie was made by people with an obvious love of the art of animation. Yes, it's the new computer based animation, but it is animation none-the-less, and it is art.
Thinking about going to see Shrek the Third? Go for it! It's well worth the price of admission.
I wasn't really sold on the Shrek story until I saw Shrek II.
The characters were just a little too finely done -- well except for the heroes, who ended up being portrayed as rather bulbous -- and then, in the second movie, Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) was just so over the top that the fantasy world became irresistible. I was hooked, and when I saw cereal boxes with Shrek characters all over them late last winter, I perked up and looked forward with hope to a third Shrek installment.
Hope, I say, because sequels and prequels are frequently disappointing. (I won't mention Star Wars at all, with its continuity gaffes and hokum. Although Ewan McGregor's legs were pretty fine scenery ... )
Back to Shrek the Third. Shrek is being manhandled into ruling the land of Far, Far Away, while the whiny Prince Charming is forced to play dinner theatre to earn a living. Neither one is happy about his circumstances. Shrek takes off to find a replacement for the annoying castle job, and Charming convinces an army of malcontents to make applying for the job unnecessary.
Shrek (Mike Myers) is still that untutored, blunt, loveable ogre; Prince Charming is still a vain twit (Rupert Everett) with delusions of grandeur; Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss (see above) are still cluelessly tactless. Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is still sweet and yet ready to kick butt as necessary. These things we expect from the main characters, but I think that this movie's strength was in the pacing and in the supporting roles.
Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, and the Queen turn into some great action figures. Well, maybe not Cinderella, but then with her upbringing --- ! Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs were involved, and the Gingerbread Man ... maybe not as much as I would have liked, but they were memorable. Music made most of the action adventure work -- and that's okay. This summer we have a surfeit of super-heroes and CGI, so good choreography is a plus.
Okay, as an artist, the CGI blew me away. Dreamworks is just getting better and better at this stuff. Even if I didn't get a major kick out of the story, I'd probably buy the DVD just to look at details. When the movie was done, I wasn't sure I was ready to write a review because I wasn't done looking at the movie. I wanted to see it again, immediately, maybe multiple times, to look at layout and detail ... and the story line again because I was being simultaneously distracted by all three.
I laughed so hard at some bits that I missed others. I've read reviews that sneer at this film, saying it is a poor Third compared to the other two, and I can't see it. Well, maybe, if you're expecting certain turns of events and the continuing parody gags, and are jaded by them. "Well", I would say to those condemnatory folks, "sucks to be you." I really enjoyed it, and would go see it again in a minute. And might.
My only real criticism? The Big Bad Wolf (still in drag) didn't have near enough of a role.