If it weren’t part of the Shrek franchise, this ill-conceived, uninspired and frankly inadequate reimagining of fairytale characters and their stories may never have been given the green light.
It’s all too easy to label any sequel as a cheap attempt to capitalise on the success of its prequel, but in this case it is hard to think otherwise. The fresh look at fairytales that so enriched Shrek is lost here amidst the dull and lazy – now Crown Prince, Shrek and wife Fiona grieve for the loss of the Frog King, and face the ultimate questions… is Shrek ready to be King and father? One wonders whom this question would stump?
It isn’t that the animation isn’t good – in fact, this is clearly the best of the three in this aspect, with its backgrounds beautiful, and characters vibrant and appealing. The maxim that ‘keeping things bright and cheery and then moving them around a lot will help to keep the kids attention’ is certainly followed slavishly in Shrek the Third. It is only in the animation of human characters that things fall down, but this can hardly be the first film criticised on that account. The days of believable human avatars are surely still some time away.
Another strength of the second instalment over this one was at least Shrek 2 had some new characters on which to focus. The clear favourite, Puss in Boots, returns this time around, but there is a distinct lack of fresh characterisation to distract from the rather disappointing plot. Prince Charming has his role expanded somewhat, and many of the subsidiary characters also benefit from a broadening of their involvement. An addled Merlin the Magician is introduced, but has limited impact, and Arthur himself inspires little.
The jolly green ogre himself? Well, Shrek isn’t that cheery in Part 3, although given this is a film with the values of our children firmly in mind, he is always going to achieve a sense of peace by the end. The rather subversive take on fairytales enjoyed by Shrek is replaced here with a by-the-numbers tale of personal growth and good triumphing over evil.
That it limits itself to 92 minutes is really the only saving grace in what is a disappointing end (one hopes) to a series that started out so well. Filled with banality and provoking yawns ahead of laughs, there is very little to recommend Shrek the Third to anyone but the most loyal of viewers.Rating: