Shrek The Third
R1 - America - DreamWorks Home Entertainment/Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (2nd January 2008).
The Film

I have to make a disclaimer right off the bat: I haven't seen "Shrek" or "Shrek 2". So, jumping right into "Shrek the Third" may have potentially been a confusing experience, but I found that the film is entertaining enough without foreknowledge of the previous installments. That said I am sure that there are running gags and references to past films that went right past me.
So, it seems that the computer animated ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and his equally-as-green-and-ugly wife Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) are the son-in-law and daughter of the Frog Prince (now king) and his lovely human wife. I don't know how a frog and a woman managed to spawn an ogre for a daughter, and I don't know why the queen doesn't just kiss the frog and make him a handsome human, but perhaps I need to go check out the previous films for my answer. Shrek and Fiona are heirs to the throne, but they'd rather just retire to their swamp and live happily in their muddy squalor. Royalty doesn't sit their temperament so they need a way out. There is another heir, but he has vanished. So Shrek and his pals Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), and Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) go looking for the heir. Also, Fiona announces her pregnancy just as Shrek's ship sails.
Meanwhile, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) - who was apparently scorned in a previous film decides to make a comeback by rousing all of the rabble in the kingdom of Far Far Away. He rounds up all of those fabled characters who were disrespected in the Old Tales, and forms a posse. Cinderella's fat sister whose foot just wouldn't fit into that slipper, Captain Hook (Ian McShane) who lost a hand, an array of witches, and even Gepetto (whose star puppet bailed on him) all sign up to follow the erstwhile Prince. They launch an invasion of the lands where the nicer and more successful legends live.
So, the plot here is pretty textbook: in training Artie (Justin Timberlake), the heir to the throne, Shrek becomes a parent figure to the boy, and decides that being a dad will be all right after all. In vanquishing the twisted Prince Charming, the nerdy Artie realizes that he has the potential to become King Arthur.
The animation on "Shrek the Third" is pretty good. The mythical characters all look fine, but computer animated humans still look lifeless and creepy (always have, always will). Kinda like 'Real Dolls', but moving. There are a whole lot of human characters in this movie, and I think it would have been stronger to perhaps focus more on the fantastic characters. The voice acting ranges from very good (especially Banderas, and Eric Idle as Merlin) to rather poor (Diaz). An impressive list of A-listers are also on board, ranging from Justin Timberlake to Larry King, and from John Cleese to Julie Andrews.
In addition to the voice talent, the strength here is in the gag writing. The movie is packed full of both sight gags and character gags. There are some clever moments on levels that kids will find silly and others that older viewers will appreciate. Perhaps the gingerbread boy seeing his whole life flash before his eyes - including a parody of "The Six Million Dollar Man" (1974-1978) - is priceless.

Video

"Shrek the Third" is presented in 1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Running time is 1:32:26, divided into 18 chapters. The video quality is of course pristine. This film was created in an entirely digital environment, using the latest technology, and was no doubt ported directly to a digital video master. It looks, I am sure, exactly as the producers want it to.

Audio

Audio options are English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. Subtitles are English, French, and Spanish. The voices are clear, sound effects are used to nice effect, and for what it is worth, all of the jarringly edited modern pop songs in the soundtrack are suitably loud. Whose idea was it to use Paul McCartney's "James Bond" theme song 'Live and Let Die' as underscore for a funeral scene in a cartoon? Truly bizarre.

Extras

Paramount has packed this disc with extras that include a yearbook feature, bloopers, lost scenes, a music video, two featurettes, text information a jukebox feature, trailers and DVD-ROM content. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

Extras include a "Worcestershire Academy Yearbook" feature, which offers a bio of each of the many characters glimpsed on screen during the Worcestershire Academy segment of the film.

After that is "Big Green Goofs", running 1 minute 55 seconds, a blooper reel from the animation department.

Three lost scenes are up next. We see and hear one of the animators pitching a scene to the rest of the staff using storyboards. The scenes are:

- "The Fauxly Grail" which runs for 9 minutes 22 seconds, in which Shrek and Artie go looking for the Grail.
- "Hot Lunch" runs for 4 minutes 38 seconds in which Artie has some trouble with Lance at school.
- "Cyrano De Artie" runs for 4 minutes 23 seconds in which Artie tries to woo Gwen.

"Donkey Dance" is a 31 seconds music video in which Donkey sings and dances to the tune of 'The Safety Dance' by Men Without Hats.

"Meet the Cast" is a 10 minute 40 second featurette from the voice recording sessions and on-camera interviews with Myers, Diaz, Murphy, Andrews, Banderas, and others.

A second menu of features contains "Shrek's Guide to Parenting", text screens in which four characters each provide Shrek and Fiona with advice about their upcoming life as parents.

"Tech of Shrek" is a short featurette running 9 minutes 53 seconds about the animation process.

"Dreamworks Video Animation Jukebox" feature offers a selection of musical numbers as an alternative to the standard trailer gallery. In this case six films are represented by song clips:

- "Shrek" which runs for 1 minute 15 seconds.
- "Shrek 2" which runs for 1 minute 21 seconds.
- "Shark Tale" which runs for 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- "Madagascar" which runs for 58 seconds.
- "Over The Hedge" which runs for 1 minute 53 seconds.
- "Flushed Away" which runs for 1 minute 55 seconds.

Never a company to miss a marketing opportunity, this is followed by a more traditional bonus trailer gallery featuring advertisements for:

- "Bee Movie" which runs for 1 minute 47 seconds.
- "Kung Fu Panda" which runs for 2 minutes 27 seconds.
- "The Spiderwick Chronicles" which runs for 1 minute 58 seconds.
- "Shrek and Shrek 2" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Charlotte's Web" which runs for 2 minutes 31 seconds.

The "Shrek" and "Shrek 2" trailer can also be accessed via a 'Shrek' head icon in the main menu.

Finally, there are three DVD-ROM features:

- "Shrek Smash Ups"
- "Royal Tournament Games"
- "Printables"

Plus three more Dreamworks Kids DVD-ROM games:

- "Merlin's Magic Crystal Ball"
- "How to be Green"
- "Learn the Donkey Dance"

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: A-

 


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