Not So Jolly Green Giant
Shrek The Third: Starring the voices of: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Eric Idle, Rupert Everret, Julie Andrews, John Cleese; Dir: Chris Miller; Cert: U; 1hr 32mOnce upon a time in a land far, far away, there was a grouchy green giant who had lost his edge.
By Andrew Clarke
Shrek The Third: Starring the voices of: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Eric Idle, Rupert Everret, Julie Andrews, John Cleese; Dir: Chris Miller; Cert: U; 1hr 32m
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there was a grouchy green giant who had lost his edge. On the surface he seemed fine - happy almost - but outward appearances can be deceptive. In this second sequel Shrek has become almost a jolly green giant - which when you compare him to the malcontent ogre that inhabited the original movie makes you realise that something is very wrong indeed.
The subversive nature of the first film has now completely vanished. What we have in its place is a straightforward, family friendly film which embraces the cute and cuddly view of fairytales rather than the perverse Brothers Grimm variety which made the first film so refreshing.
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In short the original Shrek was a well conceived, stand alone movie, which had a new story to tell - Shrek the Third is part of an on-going franchise which wants to attract as many customers as possible without offending anyone. It's a film without any real focus, without any real ideas. It's a pleasant experience while you are watching but it's not very memorable.
It's a film comprised of nicely staged set pieces but it doesn't hang together as a complete film. It's a film that relies on the charismatic vocal performances from its stars and the first rate animation to entertain its audience. It's a film that made me smile but never made me laugh - unlike the first film which had me weeping with laughter.
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The central conceit behind the film is that all the fairytale villains are gathered together by Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) to invade the peaceful kingdom of Far Far Away so they can too have their happy ever after. It's a nice idea but film-maker Chris Miller does nothing with it.
There are some clever individual moments but they are merely fleeting gags which make you smile - but sadly nothing more substantial. Shrek is away from the kingdom searching for Arthur Pendragon, heir to Far Far Away, following the death of the old King (John Cleese).
He finds Arthur or Artie as he prefers to be known in a public school located in a castle which should summon up images of Hogwarts but plays out like Beverley Hills 91210. Accompanied by Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), Shrek (Mike Myers) has to persuade a reluctant Artie to return with them to the fairytale kingdom to take his rightful place upon the throne.
Eric Idle has the best scenes in the film as Merlin the absent minded wizard who looks not too dissimilar to Discworld author Terry Pratchett. Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz go through the motions as Shrek and Fiona but it is Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas who have settled into a nice double act that really shine. Without them the film would be rather humdrum and that is what exposes the lack of invention contained within the screenplay.
The comedy has lost its subversive edge. The clever, almost throw away, visual gags have virtually disappeared. They have been replaced with some rather earnest characterisation and some mind-numbingly PC dialogue about respect - coming largely from Artie, Fiona and a host of her female fairytale hangers on.
Shrek the Ogre and Shrek the film have been tamed. You could almost say it comes with a smiley bland “Approved by the Concerned Parents of America” logo - if such an organisation existed. It's certainly bears no relation to the dark tales conjured up by The Brothers Grimm.
Shrek the Third looks rather tired - it's a movie franchise which is rapidly running out of steam. You wouldn't complain too loudly if it was designed to go straight to video but it struggles to fill its predecessor's shoes on the big screen.