Friday, January 25, 2008

REVIEW: Shrek the Third

Shrek the ThirdJust Watched:
Shrek the Third

My Rating:
3 Stars

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.

Shrek and Donkey
"We're Doing a THIRD film?"
My main complaint, however, is the volume of characters. There are too many! Remember in the first film when there are a handful of characters that we get to know & begin to laugh at? There are too many central characters in this film to whom they had to give "face time". Ultimately, it is subtraction by addition.

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.


Jordan said...

The obsession of the last decade to turn everything into a trilogy has produced a lot of forced movies. Movies that had no intention of becoming franchises are forced into a storyline that doesn't fit. The greatest example in my opinion is the Pirates series. They totally forced a story line to push out a trilogy on that one. A movie that is original and fresh isn't the same a 2nd or 3rd time. Other trilogies that seemed forced to me were Back to the Future, Free Willy, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Matrix, The Mighty Ducks, and The Santa Clause. There are others that I think are marginally weak, or at least lose their fire after a while.

The success of Star Wars, Godfather, Lord of the Rings, and others has made this a studio must.

III said...

Yup. Although, I have to disagree on Back to the Future. I rank that as the greatest trilogy of all-time. The way they seemlessly worked in old jokes in a new way, the wonder of traveling to the future, re-living the past, and perhaps changing history were all captivating. They did it right. Individually, I think I like the Star Wars movies of the original trilogy better. But as a whole, BTTF stands alone.

And yes, not only now do we have forced trilogies out of one great movie, but we have the attempt to squeeze "just one more movie" out of decent movie franchises. Ultimately, this serves to ruin that movie franchises former glory. For example, there was "The Sum of All Fears" out of the Tom Clancy series. There was the Crocodile Dundee in L.A. movie. Sly Stallone has released new Rocky & Rambo movies in successive years. What's next? Chelsea Clinton for President in 2016?

Every once in a while there will be a good movie of this genre that inspires old, out-of-work actors to try to recapture the magic. For example, Red Dragon. There will be soon be an Indiana Jones 4. I wonder which category (good or bad forced film) it will fit in.

And, also, there is the disaster of having a trilogy that births ANOTHER trilogy: Star Wars I, II, and III. Revenge of the Sith was the only one they really needed to make.

And, finally, there is the bad movie that births a series of HORRIBLE movies. Case in point, American Pie. I think of that movie franchise, and all I can think is, "Why???"

III said...

WHOOPS! Bad link...

Red Dragon

Lloyd said...

You guys think way too much... it's a cartoon. With a green guy, and a cat, and a donkey. I loved it.

III said...

Sure. Don't think about it. Don't analyze it. Just "go with the fuzzies."

I'm analytical. I'm gonna be analytical. Sorry Floydius.