The original Shrek is one of my grandson’s and my favorite movies. He fell in love with it when he was less than two year’s old and I fell in love with it because of how it enthralled him.
Although I enjoyed the second Shrek a great deal, I still preferred the original overall. The same can definitely be said with “Shrek the Third.” It lacks the charm and surprise of the original Shrek story and characters as well as the clever references to pop culture that made the second film so funny. Attempts were made to capitalize on both, but ultimately failed miserably.
Overall, the premise behind “Shrek the Third” wasn’t that bad. The idea of the king dying with Shrek and Fiona taking over as king and queen was ripe with possibilities. Unfortunately, those possibilities really weren’t even explored. Instead the story turned into a silly tale about the search for Arthur Pendragon, or Artie for short. The idea was that he would take over the kingdom of Far Far Away so that Shrek and Fiona could return to their beloved swamp.
I thought this approach was a bit of a cop out. Although, oddly enough, Justin Timberlake was good as the would-be king Arthur of Camelot fame, the script just wasn’t that funny. It smacked, instead, of desperation.
The original acting team reprised their roles. Mike Myers continued to breathe ogre sized funniness into Shrek and Cameron Diaz was still charming as his ladylove, Fiona. Eddie Murphy was as hilarious as ever as Donkey and Antonio Banderas was cute as Puss ‘N Boots. Prince Charming – – Rupert Everett – – returned as the villain who was still trying to claim the kingdom as his own.
Had just that handful of characters been involved in the story, it might have been all right. But this Shrek prescribed to the theory that “more” was “more” and continued to add to the character roster.
Julie Andrews reprised her role as the Queen and, of course, John Cleese made a brief appearance as the King. Of course, it wasn’t possible to have Arthur without Merlin so Eric Idle was brought in to fill those shoes. That particular move was not a great choice. Merlin added no value whatsoever to the script and worse yet, wasn’t even mildly amusing. Stupid comes to mind, as does annoying, and ridiculous; but amusing definitely does not.
Still the film packed in more characters including everyone from the Evil Queen (from Snow White), Captain Hook, Rumpelstilskin; the list goes on and on. And then there were all the princesses, which included Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel. They were so annoying, I was tempted right then and there to throw away every fairytale storybook I could get my hands on.
The primary problem with this film was definitely the screenplay. It just wasn’t funny and it was packed with too many characters scattered in too many directions. The movie lacked a sense of focus. There was the pregnancy of Fiona, the search for Arthur, the revenge of Charming, women’s liberation and more.
A secondary problem was the direction. It was hard for the audience to get involved with the characters. The old favorites, like Donkey and Puss, had very little to do. The many new ones were only on the screen for a short period of time. Still, they managed to take enough time away from the core characters to make audience members aggravated and angry.
This film tried too hard and, in doing so, achieved nothing of real substance. I think the audience would have loved to see more of Shrek and Fiona as parents. Instead, they were treated to a few over-played moments tacked on at the end of the film.
The story also didn’t show what happened to Arthur after he agreed to become king. Instead, everything was just chopped off at the end, leaving the audience feeling like they had missed something within the story.
Having said all of that, I realize it sounds like I hated this movie. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t like it very much, but I didn’t hate it. It was an okay story, which might have been acceptable by virtually anyone other than Dreamworks. It is just that the public in general has come to expect better from them.
I hope that this is the end of the Shrek saga unless someone comes up with a truly masterful script. I would hate to have the plot driven into the ground by the way of the original Superman series. By the last Superman sequel, most fans wanted to forget there had ever been a Superman. Doing that to Shrek would ruin it for the generations of children to come. That would be a real shame.
Sorry, guys, this one only gets two and one-half stars. It’s simply average. It could have been so much better with a little editing and focus.