Shrek the Third is a bit of a mess. The first two films in the series were wonderful; they had the ability to entertain both children and adults effortlessly and the plots for both were original in their own right. With Shrek the Third we get what I feared the second film would be: unoriginal, full of repetitious jokes and a story that is in no way entertaining.
With Fiona’s father is laying on his death bed, Shrek refuses to accept this responsibility, as he wants nothing more than to go back to his swamp. Setting out with Donkey and Puss in Boots, the three locate the heir that’s next-in-line to the throne, young Arthur. They quickly bring him back, but not before Prince Charming overthrows Far Far Away and becomes King Charming, along with his new wife, Queen Rapunzel.
The film is terribly boring. I had high hopes that it’d follow in Shrek 2’s footsteps and have as broad of an age-range as the first two films. Unfortunately the film relies on tired jokes that would make an eighties sitcom look fresh. Not to say there aren’t a few laughs; most are provided by Pinocchio and Gingerbread Man, but for Shrek and crew’s part there isn’t a whole lot here to laugh at.
For the films plot, we see Shrek shirking his duties in an attempt to get back to his swamp. In addition to this odd bit of character change (yes, it’s odd because despite Shrek’s nature, he always does good in the end), the replacement of a young Arthur is incredibly strange. Despite being of royal descent, Arthur is in some high school where he’s treated like crap. His parents are never mentioned and his whole story is incredibly odd.
It’s a real shame that Shrek the Third stumbled and fell in so many places, as it was really the shining beacon of CGI movies that said you could sequel a successful film and not end up with crap. Unfortunately you can no longer say that, what with jokes as original as high school students using phrases such as “like” and “whatever” every other sentence. On top of that we have the usual school nerd representation and every other high school stereotype you can think of. Even Donkey throws in a horrible “I haven’t had a trip that bad since college!”
I really wish I could have enjoyed the film more, but it was such mish mash of poor writing and old jokes. What few genuinely funny moments the film has are short lived and the film feels more like it should have been a direct-to-video sequel rather than a theatrical release. I’m sure kids will still love it, but Shrek the Third just doesn’t have the broad-age appeal that the first two films had.
Having said all of that, the animation is wonderful to look at as usual, with a bright color palette and smooth animations throughout. The voice cast, even as star-studded as it was, even did a fine job, although I must say Eddie Murphy’s lines as Donkey became really grating this time around, perhaps because most of what he said was so unoriginal.
Overall Shrek the Third can easily be missed. If you’re old enough to not complain about how icky girls are then you are likely not going to enjoy the film—it’s really written for kids and adults won’t find much humor here, aside from the casual foul word blocked by some type of loud noise. Rent it.
Shrek the Third arrives on Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case without any extra frills—no inserts, no new extras, nada. What is included is a very impressive audio/video transfer, which is to be expected from a rather modern animated film. Detail is incredible and the colors are immaculate. The film simply looks fantastic and the accompanying Dolby TrueHD track sounds fantastic as well. It’s a shame the film was so disappointing; I didn’t like it the first or second time I watched it, but at least this Blu-ray transfer kept it easy on the eyes throughout.
For the extras…well…there isn’t a whole lot here. They’re all presented In high-definition, but they’re all fluff pieces galore. We start off with the “Academy Yearbook”, a collection of profiles for characters we saw for about five minutes in the film. Like the entire “high school” sequence, this yearbook is unfunny and a chore to click and read your way through. “Big Green Goofs” are all technical glitches that often involve eyes going cross eyed or Shrek’s antennae going all goobly gooky. Anyone who finds these entertaining probably hasn’t watched the last two reels of these on the last two Shrek films.
“Lost Scenes” is a series of deleted scenes in storyboard form that are acted out by the writers in a pitch-process, full of people in the room. This is just about the only non-kid extra here, as the remaining extras on this set are either completely kid based (“Donkey Dance”) or PR leftovers from the promotion of the film. “Lost Scenes” is definitely the most entertaining extra on the disc as it’s just interesting to see the writers pitch their idea with so much heart and effort.
The aforementioned “Donkey Dance” is just as it sounds—Donkey dancing on a black backdrop with “Donkey” in bulb-lettering. Hilarious? No. I actually found it quite grating. Either I’m beginning to hate Eddie Murphy or I’m beginning to hate Donkey, I’m not sure which.
“Meet the Cast” and “Tech of Shrek” are the PR leftovers and I’m pretty sure “Meet the Cast” was at least aired on TV at some point, as the intro to it is almost too TV-special sounding. We get interviews from a lot of the cast and crew and a fair amount of back patting along the way. “Tech of Shrek” is a dull watch as well, what with the repetitious nature of seeing wire frame models in CGI cartoon making-of’s—I know how it’s done already, stop showing me. Finally, “Shrek’s Guide to Parenthood” is a mish mash of parenting tips from characters from the film, such as Pinocchio and Gingerbread Man. All of the “tips” are related to the characters giving them, with such hilarious lines as “Teach them to run, run run, as fast as they can!”
Some trailers are thrown in, but that pretty much wraps up the Blu-ray release, making it a near exact clone of the previous DVD / HD-DVD releases. There are some Blu-ray bonuses thrown in such as the “Animator’s Corner” (the aforementioned lost scenes), “The World of Shrek” (information about the characters and locations) and “Shrek’s Trivia Track” as pop-upables during the film. Customizable character menus are also included, if you’re into that for some strange reason. Like the film, there isn’t a whole lot to see and what there is to see, we’ve seen on the previous Shrek releases. Like the film, the Blu-ray earns a Rental and nothing more. If only they’d included that Christmas special on this release–that was worth watching.
Shrek The Third is now available on Blu-ray.