Wednesday, 23 April 2008

DVD: Shrek the Third

Lowdown: Yet another sequel.
Review:
Once upon a time not that long ago there was a film called Shrek. It was funny, it used computer graphics that gave it a unique look, it used pop culture references en masse, but most of all – it was original. It was so good that it spread these rumors around, saying there’s this animation film out there that kids would like but adults would like even better.
Then came the sequel that was still funny but not original. It compensated for its lack of originality by packing a concentrated dosage of pop culture references. And now… Now we have the third instalment which is neither funny (well, you laugh a bit but that’s it), lacks any shred of originality, and utterly fails in the character development department. It seems like the sequel’s bane is them taking characters for granted; Shrek 2 had the new cat character which was OK but far less inspiring than the donkey, but Shrek 3 totally abandons both of them without any real compensation. True, there are new characters offering some hot shot casting (Eric Idle as Merlin is a fine example), but these fail to leave a mark bigger than a passing joke that is not particularly funny to begin with.
Interestingly enough, the graphics which was once a drawing card now seems below par: character movement is rather jerky. Still, that’s me just being picky.
Oh yeah, there’s also a film out there, and it’s about something… As Shrek 3 starts we learn that Prince Charming is plotting a revolution in the kingdom of Far Far Away; then we learn that the frog king of Far Far Away is about to die. For some reason, we are expected to assume that Shrek would be the new king (I would have thought that would be Fiona?), and Shrek being Shrek doesn’t want to be the king. So he sets off on this quest to find Arthur, who is the next in line for kingship, in order to make him the king instead. Will Prince Charming succeed with his evil plan? Will Shrek face up to himself and stand up for the king the film says he should be? If you consider these to be rhetoric questions, you’re damn right.
Best scene: Fiona tells Shrek that she’s pregnant, but she breaks the news while he’s sailing away and this fog horn blows whenever she utters the word “pregnant”. It’s a stupid joke, but it’s the funniest in the film, thus demonstrating how low the Shrek film franchise can go. By the way, in contrast to the film’s merchandising, Shrek’s offsprings hardly play a role in the film.
Technical assessment: Picture quality is great, while the sound is very good but fails to create proper phantom imagery.
Overall: As I’ve said before, if you want a dose of funny pop culture references you’d be better off with an episode of Family Guy. Try Blue Harvest if you want the crème de la crème (we've just watched it again ourselves). With regards to Shrek, I’ll be generous and give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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