Shrek the Third (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (9th February 2009).
The Film

Dreamworks Anhimationís first foray into animation was 2001's 'Shrek', which took everybody by surprise. Critics and moviegoers alike fell for the story of the unwittingly-charming green ogre who just wanted to be left alone. The movie had a great message, funny jokes and a plethora of sly pop culture references. The sequel had more family business on its place.

By now, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Fiona (by Cameron Diaz) have been happily living together for the better part of a year. Shrek now has to contend with marital bliss, learning early on in the movie that he's going to be a father. This news comes right on the heels of learning that he'll be the king of the Far Far Away. He decides to go find Arthur, the next best heir of the kingdom, and bring the lad back, so he can go live in his swamp and be left alone. At the same time, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is plotting to take over the castle and take over as king. There's actually a lot going on, and this is probably a weak point at times. In fact, it makes the movie seem tired, because the writers have to rely on other characters, rather than Shrek and Fiona, to bring something new to the movie.

Because there's much going on, the writers seemed to have skimmed on some of the logic at times. Fiona and her girls come up to a brick wall? No problem, the seldom-seen queen can conveniently knock it down. They need help fighting bad guys, Snow White summons dozens of blood-thirsty canaries and various other small critters. Shrek and his gang need to go to Far Far Away, Merlin (another Monty Python alum, Eric Idle) is there to help them. On the other hand, Shrek still has a few emotions he can explore. His advice to Arthur is good, and their relationship, though simple, is effective. As I mentioned, the heavy reliance on new characters is disappointing. The main relationship seems a bit forced and has been seen before, but there are still new things to see.

The banter between Shrek and Arthur also needs help, though is far from bad. It's not as funny as it hopes to be and ends up being slighly bland. However, there are definitely more than a few funny lines scattered throughout the movie. As an example, Shrek and his buddies need to find a way back to the kingdom, learning that they have to save Fiona. Dismayed at the distance, Donkey says of Fiona, 'But she's so far far away!' This is a silly joke, but shows the simple but inspired wordplay that peppers the movie. The final play by Prince Charming is also especially ridiculous.

Bringing this movie to life is the astounding animation. Dreamworks Animation have had plenty of experience since the first Shrek film and their experience shows here. Every scene is filled with intricate detail, either in the background, foreground, clothes and even faces. The landscapes are vast and show a great amount of work. Movements are fluid while still keeping the cartoony feel the movie wants during some jokes. It's always refreshing to see great animation, and in this movie, it enhances rather than hinders the viewing experience.

Though not as original, funny or fresh as the first movie, 'Shrek the Third' definitely has its moments. There's plenty of action to keep anybody interested and the moral learned is simple but good enough. There's a wealth of very talented actors lending their voice to the characters, as well. In addition to Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz, and the rest of the main cast of the first two movies, Seth Rogen, Justin Timberlake and John Krasinski are some of the names you'll see in the credits. They help bring life into the movie. Fans of the first two 'Shrek' films will definitely enjoy this one, as nothing too drastic changes. Overall, it's missing some of the punch and zing of the first two, but it's a good effort by everybody involved.

Video

1.85:1 widescreen, using the MPEG-4 codec. Well, there's not much I can say here, other than it looks terrific. I saw zero compression artifacts, zero halos and zero DNR (I hope!). Colours are bright, yet contrast is smooth. The greens of the forests and the amount of detail in the trees, for example, are stunning. Likewise the black level is strong. Anybody watching this movie will be quite happy with the transfer.

Audio

There is one English track, Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and three dubs, all in Dolby Digital 5.1, in French, Spanish and Portuguese. As expected, the mix is well done, the sound is crystal clear and free of any kind of imperfection. Voices were always clear and clean, mixed in with other sounds with the appropriate volume levels. The crashes and screams come through clean and with a nice heft. The more animated sequences fill the room in from the rear as well, though not as much as I'd hoped. The mix seems to lack a slight amount of ambiance, but that's just personal pickiness. It's a very nice track, and a very fitting one for the movie.
English, English HoH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Extras

Though the movie made lots of money and the back of the box looks pretty full, in the end, they're not as exciting as they seem, if you're part of the younger set. Those wanting to know more about the moviemaking process will be a bit disappointed.

First up is Shrek's Guide to Parenthood, which has Donkey, Puss in Boots, Pinoccchio and Gingy giving advice to the new parents of the movie. It's a bit funny. Meet the Cast (10:42) is a pretty light featurette, where the main and supporting cast is introduced and talk about their characters. It's nothing very detailed, but a nice introduction.

The Lost Scenes are much better. There are four scenes, with a Play All option. These are not scenes themselves, but the writers pitching their scenes during some production meetings. So, the writers are acting out their gags in order to sell their jokes. It's actually really interesting to watch, and the scenes are funny, also! The four scenes are, 'The Fauxly Grail' (9:23), 'Hot Lunch' (4:36), 'Cyrano de Artie' (4:26) and 'Doppelgangers' (7:27), which, incidentally, isn't in the standard DVD edition.

Next is probably one of the better extras of the disc. The Tech of Shrek (9:57) talks about the evolution in processing power since the first movie and how that affects the making of the third movie. They talk about how much easier it is now to create different hairstyles, clothing and lighting effects. Definitely worth watching. The Donkey Dance (0:32) is Donkey's version of the 'Safety Dance'. Big Green Goofs (1:58) are a couple of minutes worth of animation tests for various movements and elements. Not so much funny as it is interesting from a layering and rendering standpoint.

The Dreamworks Animation Video Jukebox is a fancy word for 'trailer gallery'. To be fair, these are not trailers, but clips from each movie. In here, you'll find clips for 'Bee Movie' (1:19), 'Flushed Away' (1:56), 'Over the Hedge' (1:53), 'Madagascar' (0:58), 'Shark Tale' (2:25), 'Shrek 2' (1:20), 'Shrek' (1:14) and 'Shrek 3' (1:33).

DWK is the section devoted specifically for kids. Merlin's Magic Crystal Ball is basically a Magic 8-Ball on a disc. Learn the Donkey Dance (1:42) shows you how to do the dance from the clip mentioned above. How to Be Green (4:01) teaches you how to save the environment by being green. By the way, a single start-up trailer, for 'Madagascar' (1:52), starts off the disc.

The disc boasts a few High-Definition Exclusive Extras to watch. First is The Animator's Corner which is somewhat similar to the 'Boards and Blasts' extra on the 'Final Fantasy' DVD and BD. It's a full-length storyboard track running along the movie. Only hardcore animation buffs will want to watch this more than 10 minutes, but I appreciate its inclusion.

Shrek's Trivia Track is also a nice inclusion. It's a running text commentary, though its downfall is its humour. It has a combination of character jokes (such as the Prince taking riding lessons for his intro scene in the movie) and actual fact (like everybody farting an average of 14 times per day), and it's sometimes tricky to know if the track is joking or not. To be fair, this is a very nice read and fun to watch.

Lastly, The World of Shrek is nothing special. It's a character bio page for all the main and supporting characters. Again, not to informative, but a nice little extra.

Overall

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

 


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