Friday, May 25, 2007

SHREK 3: Not As Charming Now

SHREK 3 (fantasy comedy)
Voices: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Justin Timberlake
Directors: Chris Miller, Raman Hui
Time: 93 mins
Rating: * * ½

Shrek in Far Far Away
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? As far as popular blockbusters go, the original always shines with its novelty and ‘wow factors’; the sequel will usually be a pleasant revisit, while the third invariably draws closer scrutiny and harsher criticism. When you offer something for a third time, people tend to expect more out of it.
This is how it is with "Spider-Man 3", "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End" and now, "Shrek 3" (or "Shrek The Third"). Of course, the film-makers would give us more of the same, while we look for ‘something extra’ to justify all the waiting and the publicity hype. It’s like listening to a joke for the third time. If there is no ‘unexpected twist’ at the punch line, the joke is considered stale.
Ardent "Shrek" fans may find the going stale in this third instalment. Having got used to the fairy-tale and mythical characters in the franchise, they may find the plot and subplots predictable and trite. However, as a continuation of Shrek’s adventures in the Land Far Far Away, the movie should be entertaining enough to sustain us through the 93 minutes of screening time. Those who expect a witty script will be disappointed.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? The Frog King (voice of John Cleese) is about to ‘croak’ and on his death leaf, he names Shrek (Mike Myers) as his heir. This frightens the ogre and he starts looking for a suitable replacement. The only candidate is Arthur (Justin Timberlake), who is next in line after Shrek. So our green hero, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and Puss 'n Boots (Antonio Banderas) set out to find him. When they track him down in a high school, they find that Artie is not really King material. But then neither is Shrek.
Meanwhile, back in Far Far Away, Prince Charming (Rupert Evert), tired of being a two-bit actor at a dinner theatre, has seized control of the palace, imprisoning Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and the others. All that remains is for Shrek and his pals to come and rescue them in the usual ‘feel good fairy-tale’ fashion.

HIGHLIGHTS & LOWLIGHTS: Did I say ‘feel good fairy-tale fashion’? Well, therein lies the predictability and our disappointment. But then how far off course can a franchise like that go in terms of plot twists and turns? The first two instalments seem to have used up all the possibilities and the scripters (all four of them) seem unwilling to use the ‘road not taken’ to surprise us. Repetitions abound (like gags about Pinocchio’s nose and Rapunzel’s hair) and subplots, like Shrek’s impending fatherhood, is just a natural turn of events, and so is his fear of it.
Still, there are a few chuckles to be had, especially if you are familiar with the works of the voice cast (Julie Andrews does a line from ‘My Favourite Things’), and spoofs on movies like "Rosemary’s Baby" and "Six Million Dollar Man". The sequences involving Arthur’s high school should resonate well with the teenagers in the audience while fans of "Desperate Housewives" would be able to relate to the views of Fiona and her female friends.

THE LOWDOWN: The absence of Andrew Adamson from the director’s chair seems crucial to this ‘trequel’. Helmers Chris Miller and Raman Hui do not have Adamson’s sense of timing and plot structure. They merely tell the tale and repeat the jokes. So "Shrek 3" isn’t too bad if you have not seen the first two movies.


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