Shrek the Third
As a memorable video game character once quipped: "Zee Magic? She is gone!" The Shrek franchise began with a fantastic piece of work. I think that it all went wrong when the decision-makers decided to make a franchise out of one blockbuster effort. This is one more example of the classic case where movie executives forced the writers & creators to pump out two more movies, when all those writes & creators ever really wanted to do was the first film. And when that happens, it shows in the quality of the final two movies of the trilogy (e.g. The Matrix).
Overall, Shrek the Third was underwhelming. The plot was about as ordinary and unexciting as an episode of Law & Order. The writing didn't come close to recapturing the zany humor of the first film. And they tried. There are a couple scenes with some spark. But ultimately, the film falls short.
One thing I'll give them: the picture is PHEnomenal. Especially in HD. Even though the other elements of the film stunk, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I was mesmerized by the power of High Definition.
"The Third" sticks with it's series-long theme of being a the anti-fairy tale. In this episode, instead of waiting to be rescued, the princesses come to the rescue. Prince Charming is the sinister antagonist instead of being the courageous hero. The Ogre, instead of being the evil and frightening monster, is the whimsical and like-able hero. And, in the end, "fighting for the cause" is the WRONG thing to do. While there is some charm in such an upside-down story, the fact that it comes out of Hollywood in our current national milieu disturbs me somewhat. It's as if they are planting subliminal messages like, "Hey kids, the 'good guys' in Washington are really bad, the 'bad guys' that they vilify are really good, and never, ever fight for the right thing." Ultimately, it feels like the creators of the film delivered a liberal message in an under-handed & manipulative way. And, to me, that's slimy.
Still, it was fun to see the cast of Shrek in one more film. And it wasn't ALL bad. Kids will no doubt love it. The film-makers just couldn't recapture the magic of the original. 3 stars, out of five.