SHREK THE THIRD
I must admit to liking Shrek the Third marginally better than Shrek 2. The contemporary culture gags are less intrusive this time around and the story has a little more dramatic focus. While Shrek 2 put the emphasis on gags that is less here, which serves to bring the characters back to the fore. (Much of this could be due to the change of creative talents none of the directors or writers from either of the previous films have been employed here excepting original co-director Andrew Adamson who only conceives the story this time). There is also now the feeling that the bubbly freshness of the original has been supplanted by familiar characters being dragged through another plot just like characters in a formulaic weekly tv series. The donkey and Puss in Boots are relegated to being minor support characters the major novelty this time is that a magic spell has the unintended side-effect of causing them to swap bodies. The sequels also never seemed to find much for the perpetually curmudgeonly Shrek to do Shrek 2 had him dolefully thinking that Fiona didnt love him anymore, while Shrek the Third comes up with even less and has him trying to avoid the responsibility of ruling a kingdom and feeling anxious at the notion of impending fatherhood.
The scene-stealer of Shrek 2 ended up being the appealing Antonio Banderas-voiced Puss in Boots. The new character here is Arthur who is voiced to perfection by of all people teen heartthrob, pop idol Justin Timberlake, the boyfriend of co-star Cameron Diaz. Arthur has a somewhat amusing character arc that of the pimply-faced heir to the throne who wants nothing to do with it but grudgingly comes to reveal surprising strengths throughout the course of the journey. The plot arc about Shrek setting out to find Arthur is not dissimilar to the one in the original Shrek Shrek and companion(s) must journey to retrieve a prince(ss) from a distant place and return with them although the telling is far more routine this time around.
Shrek the Third welcomely dispense with the annoying gag that overran Shrek 2 of Far Far Away being a spoof of Beverly Hills with fairytale equivalents of brand name shops here we even see the main drag of Far Far Away being trashed by the invading hordes at one point. The visit to Worcestershire unimaginatively construes it as a fairytale equivalent of a boarding school with bespectacled nerds playing role-playing games, the mediaeval equivalent of a Kombi van filled with dope smokers and Arthur as the bullied geek of the class. The most amusement to be had is the characterisation of the other fairytale princesses Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White as a group of airheaded modern teenage girls. Their idea of escape from the prison is to sit in various poses and wait to be rescued. The most amusing of these is Snow White who has been designed as a spoof of the Snow White in Disneys Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and comes accompanied, even goes into attack, by a horde of woodland creatures while singing in inhumanely operatic soprano voice.
Next up was Shrek Forever After (2010) and subsequently Puss in Boots was granted his own film with Puss in Boots (2011), also directed by Chris Miller. Shrek the Third was parodied in Meet the Spartans (2008). Director Chris Miller, previously a voice actor on the other films, next went onto co-direct Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009), 21 Jump Street (2012) before returning to animation with The Lego Movie (2014). Co-director Raman Hui subsequently went onto direct the hit live-action Chinese fantasy film Monster Hunt (2015).