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Shrek The Third

Shrek The Third

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ONCE upon a time there lived an animated green ogre who existed to poke fun at many cartoon conventions, while giving Pixar a serious run for their money.

Three movies in, however, and the early magic of those first two Shrek outings now seems far, far away.

Shrek The Third is a laboured entry into the series – visually astounding, yes, but now steadfastly conforming to many of the stereotypes it sought to resist.

It gets by on the camaraderie that still exists between its principal performers – notably Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas – but it’s a pale imitation of its former self.

The story begins as Shrek’s father-in-law King Harold (John Cleese), erm, croaks it, and suggests Shrek as rightful heir to the land of Far, Far Away.

Rather than give up his swamp, the not-so-jolly green giant determines to find the only other living heir, a young lad named Artie (Justin Timberlake) with the help of Donkey (Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Banderas). But while they’re away, it’s left to Princess Fiona (Diaz) to resist a coup by the jilted Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) while coming to terms with pregnancy.

The main problem with Shrek The Third is that it feels too much like a message movie rather than a rollicking good adventure.

Issues such as the importance of family, the responsibility of fatherhood, the dangers of vanity and so on are rammed home tirelessly, often at the expense of some of the more savvy pop culture references that made the first two films such a breath of fresh air.

The in-jokes, too, are much more obvious and distinctly underwhelming, while the addition of new characters such as Timberlake’s rebellious Artie, or Eric Idle’s Merlin bring nothing worthwhile to proceedings.

Past favourites Donkey and Puss In Boots are redcued to becoming virtual spectators and are criminally under-used and even Shrek isn’t afforded as many laugh-out-loud moments as previously (despite the best efforts of Myers).

There are some good moments, such as a clever nightmare sequence involving multiple Shrek babies and some colourful, if fleeting, villains.

But given the high standards set by the previous movies, Shrek The Third feels like a wasted opportunity that doesn’t really ogre well for future adventures.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 93mins