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Shrek the Third Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 September 2008
ImageIn what seems like a time of sequels, and even more so, trilogies, all your favorite fairytale creatures are back in “Shrek the Third”. After a so-so performance in “Shrek 2”, creator Mike Myers is back in the swing of things with the third installment. While not as ingenious as the first Shrek film, “Shrek the Third” delivers a much more coherent and laugh-filled film than number 2.

In film number one our fearless Shrek (Mike Myers) went off to rescue the princess in the highest room of the tallest tower and battle the fire-breathing dragon, all to get the deed to his swamp back from the sinister Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). In the second film, the Fairy Godmother and her son Prince Charming plotted to take the princess away from Shrek and take over the kingdom of Far Far Away. The third film does a decent job of picking up from the end of film number two. The Fairy Godmother is still deceased, Princess Fiona's father, King Harold (John Cleese) is still stuck in his frog state, and Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is now hated by all the land.

With King Harold's failing health, Shrek and Fiona are summoned from their swamp to fill in for the King and Queen. Shortly thereafter, King Harold croaks on his lily pad. However, he first names Shrek as the new King and reveals the only other heir to the throne, Arthur. Some might be clever enough to realize he means the legendary King Arthur right away.

Shrek, never wanting any of the spotlight throughout the three films, sets sail to find the Arthur kid. Presented with comical timing, Fiona shouts from the dock that she is pregnant. Shrek is uneasy with this information, and it will formulate the deeper storyline for the more adult crowd. With the help of a retired Merlin, Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots get themselves and Arthur back to Far Far Away. However, while the mice were away the cat played, so to speak. Prince Charming seized the entire kingdom and imprisoned Fiona, and was cleverly awaiting Shrek's return. In grand tradition of the Shrek films, the end comes down to an emotional battle scene, in which our heroes naturally arise victoriously.

The opening MPAA rating screen rated it PG, for some “crude and swashbuckling humor”. I didn't really find there to be any crude humor in this film. However, I may be de-sensitized to the subject matter. But I don't think that a “G” rating could have been out of the question.

“Shrek the Third” brings into play, many of our beloved fairytale characters. The girls will enjoy seeing tea parties and action scenes with their heroines, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, among others. The three blind mice, grandmother-eating wolf, three little pigs, Pinocchio, Captain Hook, Headless Horseman, among a ton of others, all return to play there little parts in this film. I believe the most interesting additions were the legends of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere.

Unfortunately, “Shrek the Third” does not pose a threat to the originality of the first Shrek film. I was hoping for some competition, but the third film falls a bit short. The script is full of “empty threat” dialogues and the showiness of too many legendary characters. It lacked the comical banter between Shrek and Donkey and the wit of Princess Fiona. Fiona has become so rooted in her Ogre ways that she has lost that spunk in her attitude that made the first Shrek such a delight. The second film had the wonderful Fairy Godmother to keep the wit alive. But the wit was sorely lacking in “Shrek the Third”. Not all was lost, as the film did reach back to the success of the first two films in regards to music montages. “Shrek” was known for its wonderful, heartfelt music sequences, using some rare, but perfect-fitting songs. Such examples are the “Hallelujah” by Rufus Wainwright and “My Beloved Monster” by Eel sequences. This film had a couple of those moments, although, not quite as powerful.

The Blu-ray release of this film shines just as well as the HD DVD presentation before it.  The film is re-encoded to a slightly higher bitrate, that offers no real discernable difference.  "Shrek the Third" is a direct digital transfer and makes no attempt to present a film-like visual appearance.  There is no material out on Blu-ray to date that offers such clear and dimensional images.  The colors are vibrant to the point that the characters leap off the screen.  This is aided by perfect black-levels.  There is absolutely no edge enhancement  or compression/motion artifacts.  Crystal clean.  By far, this is the best-animated video presentation on Blu-ray.  I only wish that the first two films get released on the Blu-ray format sometime soon.

The audio track is given a wonderful upgrade on the Blu-ray release.  The HD DVD had a lackluster Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track.  The Blu-ray contains a terrific Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track.  This bit-for-bit audio track yields more impressive surround balance, which I criticized in the HD DVD presentation.  Not only are discrete effects more accurate and lively, the ambiences have increased to a more filling level.  The dialogue is strong and well-balanced.  Still lacking in this new format is a strong LFE channel.  It has improved slightly, but not nearly enough to make the audio truly masterful.

The special features on this Blu-ray are easier to navigate than the HD DVD. Some are available under the Special Features tab, while others remain in other sections.. All the extras are presented in 1080p, which is a nice change from most Blu-rays and their SD extras.

“Meet the Cast” introduces us to the voice talents of the film. “Shrek Tech” is a quick featurette on the editing process behind “Shrek the Third”. The “Lost Scenes” covers four proposed scenes for the film. The most you can hope for from this featurette are some pencil sketches. Nothing is a final render. “Big Green Goofs” is a standard blooper reel. “Shrek's Guide to Parenthood” provides parenting advice. “Donkey Dance” is quick music video of Donkey dancing to “The Safety Dance”. The “DreamWorks Animation Jukebox” featurette allows you to watch a musical clip from a variety of films, which as of now have not been announced for the HD format. Finally there are two trailers, neither of which is for the Shrek films. “My Menus” consists of different skins for the user to choose from for the overall appearance of the menu bar. “The Animators' Corner” allows you to watch the entire film as a serious of drawings, with symbols present during playback that allow access to the “Lost Scenes” at the correct moment. There are several other features on this Blu-ray, some of which are web-enabled. However, none of them are really that interesting.  There are also some BD-Live features (which are unavailable at the time of this review).  However, they were accessible on the HD DVD disc without the need for a higher profile.  These features include, "The World of Shrek," "Shrek's Trivia Track," and "Donkey's Coloring Book."

“Shrek the Third” is entertaining for adults and children, but in almost no way lives up to the original “Shrek”. The video quality of this film makes all the boring storylines and plot holes easy to overlook. Young children will be mesmerized by the colors. I know my nephew was. Likely though, children and adults alike will become bored with “Shrek the Third” fairly quickly. Luckily the running time is only 90 minutes. Definitely a disc to own for video demo material, but might just be a rental for the movie.

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