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November 27th, 2006:
When we last saw him, King Harold (John Cleese
) had turned into a frog. Now that he has fallen ill, his daughter, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz
), and her husband Shrek (Mike Myers
) are the next in line to rule as the Queen and King of Far, Far Away. Since he finds difficulty in the new position and longs to return to his swamp, Shrek is delighted to hear that he may have a way out of this predicament. There is one other person who could rightfully claim King Harold’s throne – Fiona’s troublesome cousin Artie (Justin Timberlake). With his friends Donkey (Eddie Murphy
) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas
) beside him, Shrek sets out to find the rebellious teen. Suddenly, the jilted Prince Charming (Rupert Everett
), who was thrown out of Far, Far Away last time, makes his way back to the kingdom, looking for revenge. Together with a group of fairy tale villains, he hopes to seize back the castle and the throne. Fiona assembles a band of princesses to help her stop the Prince’s assault, but with Shrek away on his mission, the kingdom is in grave danger.What to Expect:
After helping turn the fairy tale genre upside down in the outstanding first two Shrek installments, director Andrew Adamson
moved on to helm the first picture in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Since he’s currently working on the second part, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
selected co-directors Chris Miller
and Raman Hui
for Shrek the Third. While Miller contributed as a writer on the first two installments in the Shrek series, Hui worked as a supervising animator. This will be Miller’s debut feature as a director; however Hui has helmed a couple of short animated films in the past. Clearly, neither has worked on anything of this magnitude before. Article continues below
Unsurprisingly, work on Shrek the Third began before Shrek 2 hit theaters. Additionally, the filmmakers have been working on the third and fourth parts simultaneously, with production on the third installment getting a six month head start. According to the producers, there was always a plan in mind to tell the story over the course of four chapters, so it is likely that Shrek 4
will conclude the very lucrative franchise. Interestingly, the final part is expected to be a prequel dealing with the titular ogre’s origins. There are also rumors that Puss in Boots
will have his very own spin-off somewhere down the line.
The third part in the series sees the return of all the usual players, including Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey, and Puss in Boots, who will be voiced, as always, by Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas respectively. Both Diaz and Banderas have admitted to doing a lot of improvising this time around as at certain points they have had to work without a script.
In addition to the usual suspects, Shrek the Third has expanded their already fascinating line-up to feature several brand new celebrities. Pop star Justin Timberlake
, who will voice the spoiled Prince Artie, is probably the most interesting addition. Needless to say, the anti-Timberlake movement has already made their opinion known on the many online blogs and message boards. Still, there is something quite fitting and amusing about Timberlake voicing a young, snobbish brat.
With British comedian Eric Idle
joining the cast as Merlin, the movie will reunite him with his ‘Monty Python’ co-star John Cleese, who voices King Harold. However, Shrek the Third still appears to be an SNL alumni vehicle. Of course, Myers and Murphy are both veterans of the program, but the flick will also feature three more female members of the SNL team. Amy Poehler
and Maya Rudolph
, both of whom are currently on the long-running television sketch show, will voice Snow White and Rapunzel, respectively. Former cast member Cheri Oteri
will play Sleeping Beauty. Together with Strangers with Candy
star Amy Sedaris
who will voice Cinderella, the foursome combines to make up one bizarre group of fairy tale princesses. As is typical of the franchise, the four ladies will go against type and learn to take on responsibility rather than simply rely on some knight in shining armor to come rescue them. Together with Princess Fiona, they will be responsible for defending the castle against Prince Charming’s posse, which includes such villains as Captain Hook (Ian McShane
). Given the hyperactive nature of the four female actresses, the casting promises to generate at least a few solid laughs.
Unfortunately, reports from early screenings have been somewhat disappointing. Apparently, the script doesn’t give Mike Myers enough to do the third time around and there are far fewer of those precious, cranky Shrek moments. The best bits occur early on, while Shrek covers for the King during his illness. Interestingly, the writing at this point in the film is apparently very weak when it comes to supporting characters like Donkey and Puss in Boots. Both seem to run around without much to do and it isn’t until much later that Murphy and Banderas are given the opportunity to shine in their parts. Diaz does well with her Princess Fiona, but her real life boyfriend is a whole another story. It seems that the character of Artie is simply a total bore. Although Timberlake cannot be blamed for poor writing, he will be heavily scrutinized by the fans and the media, regardless if he is responsible for his character’s downfalls. Since Artie takes up so much screen time in the flick, he greatly affects the flow of the story. The character of Merlin is reportedly similarly underdeveloped, but at least his role is not integral to the majority of the plot. Prince Charming, who was played so deviously by Rupert Everett
in the sequel, has reportedly been reduced to a mere vengeful buffoon.
While the early screenings have been a little underwhelming, the picture was reportedly only about 40% finished at the time. The animation was far from being finished and the awful storyboards did not do enough to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, since most of the negative comments have been about the story and the writing, the quality of the animation
may have little effect on the way Shrek the Third is eventually going to be received. Perhaps stemming from the directing change, the tone is decidedly different in the third part, which seems to lack the fast humor of the first two flicks. The many clever jokes and sight gags that populated the previous entries and entertained the adults in particular have been replaced by a focus on a more adventurous and perhaps overly simplistic plot. The consensus seems to be that the story is fine overall, but that it is nowhere near the class of the first two pictures. The writing seems obvious and a little lazy, the story drags in the middle, and the ending is disappointing. Perhaps this is all a result of working from a loose screenplay and from allowing stars like Diaz and Banderas to improvise. If the writing needs improvement, then no budget or high-tech animation is going to save Shrek the Third.In Conclusion:
Sooner or later, every franchise overstays its welcome. I thought that the quality dropped off just slightly from the first part to the sequel, but it seems like Shrek the Third may have several troublesome areas. The general public will probably not notice such problems and will flood the theaters to catch the feature, which is likely to be heavily advertised. There will be some laughs for sure, but it may be that Shrek the Third will now be pandering to the audience rather than amusing and challenging it.Similar Titles: Shrek
, Shrek 2