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Shrek the Third (2007)
Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/13/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/23/2007
Many film analysts dubbed the summer of 2007 as "the summer of trilogies", as the third chapters of several film franchises appeared during this important time of year. I don't know if there was any specific trend amongst these movies, but I do know that I foundSpider-man 3, Ocean's Thirteen and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End to be overly-long and overly-complicated. In contrast, that problem wasn't present in Shrek the Third. In fact, it was the streamlined nature of this animated sequel which made it appealing.
Shrek the Third opens after the events of the second film. The ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) lives with his wife (?) Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) (who is also an ogre) in a castle in the land of Far, Far, Away. The swashbuckling cat Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) and the hyperactive Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), who are both friends of Shrek (or as close to friends as an ogre can have), also live there. (Donkey has mated with a dragon and they have a brood of flying, fire-breathing donkey-dragon hybrid babies...which is just weird). Shrek loves being there with Fiona, but he misses his swamp and doesn't enjoy the royal duties. When the King (voiced by John Cleese) dies, Shrek should be next in line for the throne, but with his dying breath, the King mentions that there is another. So, Shrek, Donkey, and Puss set out to find Artie (voiced by Justin Timberlake), a gawky teenager who may be the next king. As if that weren't enough, Shrek also learns that Fiona is pregnant. Meanwhile, the deposed Prince Charming sees the King's death as his chance to take the throne. While Shrek is away, Charming rallies the local villains and hatches a plan to storm the castle. Will Shrek return in time to save the kingdom?
Here's a little Shrek timeline for ya': I saw Shrek on DVD back in 2001 following all of the hype and I wasn't impressed. The idea of skewering famous fairy tales was a neat (if not unoriginal) one, but the movie tried way too hard to be hip and threw in too many jokes which I'm sure feel dated today. Because of this, I avoided Shrek 2 altogether. Thus, I wasn't expecting much from Shrek the Third, and to be honest, I was dreading watching it. To my surprise, I found that I liked the movie.
There were two main factors which made Shrek the Third work for me. First, the emphasis didn't rely on wink-wink-nudge-nudge in-jokes relating to modern life or culture. Yes, there were some stores in Far, Far Away whose names were parodies of real stores and Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" was used in a manner which made me roll my eyes, but for the most part, the humor here is simply derived from the situations in the story. The Shrek, Donkey, and Puss characters alone should elicit jokes and the writers allow them to be front and center here. The one exception to this that works is the portrayal of Artie's school, Worcestershire Academy, as a modern high-school. These jokes were obvious, but well-timed and funny.
The other thing that I liked about Shrek the Third was the simplicity of the story. King dies, Shrek doesn't want to be king, Shrek goes to find new king, evil prince decides to take throne, Shrek must save the day -- there's the movie in a nut-shell. Too many movies today attempt to have the most complicated story possible, and something like this, which is aimed primarily at children, needn't do that. The easy-to-follow plot allows the characters to develop and have stand out moments. The movie is able to take a moment to explore the idea that Artie doesn't think that he can be King because he wasn't popular in high school or that Shrek is really nervous about becoming a father. There are also some funny moments featuring Fiona and the fairy tale princesses. (I especially liked the fact that Sleeping Beauty kept dozing off.) The movie never becomes a character study, but these extra touches actually draw the viewer into the film, whereas an abundance of "sly" jokes would distract the viewer.
In case you can't tell, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't hate Shrek the Third. To be fair, the movie isn't perfect. There are too many questionable jokes about Fiona's pregnancy which are aimed at adults, but my bring some unwelcome questions from youngsters. And the villain attack scenes may be too intense for some kiddies. Still, the movie is fun and it never tries too hard to be clever or hip. And by doing so, we get exactly what a movie like this should be: short, sweet and to the point.
Shrek the Third goes green on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in two separate releases, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. I'm not certain if the transfer was taken directly from digital source, but the transfer looks excellent. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, and the movie does a fine job of mixing bright pastels and somber browns, all of which look fine. The framing appears to be accurate and I saw no indication of intrusive artifacting or distortion. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Like many family films, the audio isn't overwhelming, but it's fine. The stereo effects are good and there's a nice smattering of surround effects, most notably during crowd scenes and the villain's attack. Having an ogre in the film does provide for some nice subwoofer effects.
The Shrek the Third DVD has a handful of DVDs, most of which are clearly aimed at youngsters. "Worcestershire Academy Yearbook" is an interactive feature which allows us to learn more about Artie's classmates. There are some fairly humorous things here. "Big Green Goofs" (2 minutes) is made up of computer glitches which I found grotesque at times. "Lost Scenes" (18 minutes) features storyboard pitches of three scenes which didn't make it into the movie. This gives us an interesting look behind-the-scenes of planning the movie. "Donkey Dance" (30 seconds) Donkey sings a song to the tune of "Safety Dance". Why? "Meet the Cast" (11 minutes) has comments from Myers, Diaz, Banderas, Murphy, Timberlake, and others. We also get behind-the-scenes footage of the actors recording their dialogue. "Shrek's Guide to Parenthood" has Donkey, Puss in Boots, Pinocchio, and Gingerbread Man giving parental advice. This is just weird. "Tech of Shrek" (10 minutes) has comments from the filmmakers who talk about the advancements in technology used to create the animation in the film. We see a lot of examples of how the characters look as they are being "built". There is also a section of set-top games for the kiddies or the easily impressed.
On September 23, 2008, Paramount Home Entertainment also brought Shrek the Third to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 (not 1.85:1 as on the DVD) and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. Simply put, the image looks gorgeous. There is no grain and no defects from the source material. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, looking as if we could reach in a touch the characters. The colors are great -- vibrant and realistic. The image has a nice amount of depth and the amount of detail in the animation makes one appreciate the amount of work which goes into these movies. I noted no artifacting, nor any stuttering in the animation. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. While this isn't an awe-inspiring track, it serves the film well. The stereo effects are notably good, and they are nicely detailed. The musical cues produce nice surround sound. Scenes such as the pep rally in Chapter 6 display impressive surround sound which is nicely placed.
The Shrek the Third Blu-ray Disc contains the same extras as the DVD release. In addition, we get "Shrek's Trivia Track", which offers pop-up information on the story and the making of the film during playback. "The Animator's Corner" is another features which is utilized while watching the film. With this, we can view storyboards while we watch the movie. "The World of Shrek" offers a heads up display which allows the viewers to read bios and fun-facts about the major characters from the movie.
Review Copyright 2007-2008 by Mike Long