With the King of Far Far Away bound to his deathbed, newlyweds Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) face the strenuous task of finding a suitable successor to the throne. Shrek of course is too busy dreaming about his swamp to assume the position of the next heir in line, so the only remaining option is Fiona’s younger cousin Artie, voiced by Justin Timberlake.
But while Shrek and his friends Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss-in-Boots (Antonio Banderas) sail off to pick up Artie from a distant high school, Far Far Away is invaded by an army of malicious villains led by Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who strives to end his career as an unpopular stage actor and to create his very own Happily Ever After.
Stimulating pop-culture references and takes on classic fairy tales are still abundant in Shrek the Third, but sadly enough, everything else is a mere imitation of what we have already seen in the first two movies. This time, box office performance seems superior to original storytelling, which only damages the reputation of the franchise and blocks any potential influx of new ideas.
The moral of Shrek the Third is bland, and most of it deals with Shrek establishing a proper relationship with Artie, who believes that ruling a kingdom is one big party. “Believe in yourself” is pretty much all we take home from this. Then there’s Fiona’s announcement of her pregnancy, which forces Shrek to get used to the idea of fatherhood. Here, Shrek’s fear provokes a few minor gags, but remains thin and underexploited.
Surprisingly, Shrek is mostly absent in what turn out to be the funniest parts of the movie. While most laughs spring from Gingerbread Man and his friends, the best action sequences feature Fiona and her gang of fairy-tale ladies planning the downfall of Prince Charming. Donkey and Puss also provide the plot with some nice one-liners, but a magical body switch later in the movie falls incredibly flat.
Still, the visuals are cutting-edge. The picture is sharper and the figures look more real than ever, which makes Shrek the Third enjoyable eye-candy. The voice-over borders perfection as well, and keeps the movie running at a steady pace. Although the big showdown at the end looks remarkably familiar and most of the action is repeated, this sequel is nonetheless loaded with just enough surprises to keep at least the kids busy for 90 minutes.
Review by Franck Tabouring