| The Red Right Hand
SHREK THE THIRD
I've been rather busy this month, moving into a new flat, on top of magazine deadlines and all sorts. I think, looking back, it would have been a lot easier if I had written one bulk review and edited certain points. If you're wondering what I'm referring to, it's this "year of the three-quel" thing; the notion that blockbuster wonders are getting their third instalments and audiences across the world will benefit greatly. They were wrong. The only people who really benefited from this are those getting the cash. Spiderman 3 was an incredible let down and Pirates 3 wasn't that bad but still really bloody tedious and now we have Shrek 3 and my God, is it awful. It makes me want to spout the kind of stuff that the Angry Video Game Nerd (James Rolfe) would concoct. First of all, the prequels; I liked Shrek, I thought it was funny and original. Shrek 2 was an acceptable sequel with an average plot, made watchable because of the cat. Sometimes, on watching a savagely poor movie, I enjoy reading public comments on IMDB, posting my favourite here and ripping it to pieces. You may have seen this before (Epic Movie), you may also ask yourself why I do this. The main reason is quite simple, it's the same reason I wear a Watchmen badge and regularly quote The Comedian; I equally despair and take great pleasure in the confirmation that society is so incredibly stupid and beyond hope. Today's thoughts are brought to us by a writer operating under the alias Shie2rk, based in the United States, who had this to say:
"We are acclimated to reviews and artificial 1-4 star ratings by news critics." Not exactly the most positive start and considering I don't use the 1-4 system I can't say I feel targeted by any of that. "But these people are bored wotj each new week's offering...52 weeks a year. They saw this as no exception." wotj? What the hell does that mean? Your chubby digits unable to find the right keys!? Well, I do see a lot of films but it's something I enjoy, as opposed to a job I hate; besides, no matter how many movies I see, I'll still want more. "But an EXCEPTION it is! Here we have movie with CHARACTER, then characterS," Grammar, spelling, a capital at the end of a word... I'm not even going to start with this one. "a great storyline, fantastic music and stage sets within screen sets, monsters, conflicts, personal ambitions, evil ambitions, selfish and selfless acts, beautiful and classic scenes, incomparable heros and heroines from all the great movies of our childhood," This should read great fairytales' of our childhood... but I'm guessing this person wasn't exactly a fan of books... "with ribald scenarios and events, and a smash, smash, smash, smash ending." Smash? That's the same as wotj! Why do people spell things so poorly! It's spelled S-H-I-T-E. "The best of the series, leave the tiny ones at home, bring your pocket Kleenex and come enjoy this movie. Be unashamed!" This review was finished with a 10/10 rating.
Having taken a breather and calmed down considerably, allow me to rationally dissect this one; the whole thing is wrong. Shrek The Third is abysmal! There are only two points worth seeing this film for, just two. The first is Puss In Boots [Banderas], who deserves a decent spin-off. The second is the quality of the animation, which is still superb and extremely entertaining. Everything else is dire.
The plot reads like an executive board brainstorming session: The King of Far Far Away dies and explains to Shrek [Myers] that there are two heirs. The first is Shrek, who yearns for the simple life and the other is Artie [Justin Timberlake], a scrawny, bullied schoolboy. Shrek also finds out his wife, Fiona [Diaz], is pregnant and has issues about becoming a father. Puss & Donkey [Murphy] join Shrek's quest to find Artie and bring him back. In the mean time, Prince Charming [Rupert Everett] has rallied various 'bad guys' and mounts an attack on the kingdom. That's...er... that's about it. Add some crappy songs and slapstick fight sequence, remove any jokes or humour and bring back every character we can... yeah, that'll do fine. I'm afraid, another dissection is in order. First of all, the King dies and tells Shrek to take over. He explains that he's grown to love him and he'll make a good King. It would appear everyone has grown to like Shrek; the only one who doesn't want him to be King is himself... and Charming. Speaking of which, this is England, a country built on Monarchy; if the King was dying, the princess would become Queen and Shrek would be Duke of Edinburgh.. or wherever. Why does Shrek have to take over? Misogynist? Maybe. The second problem is Artie, who's some tiny kid with a chiselled jaw and striking features. He's a wimp, he's sappy, childish and not that bright and this is the man who is supposed to rule the kingdom and protect it from the likes of Charming? For pity's sake. Next problem; Shrek's attitude towards being a father. Why would any child care about that? How can they relate in any way? The fact that Fiona is pregnant seems to be a mystery to him (Ogres don't get morning sickness, apparently) until she announces it to him; this part is fine. Shrek proceeds to have nightmares about fatherhood and the responsibilities this will entail. The whole thing is so badly approached that you wonder why it was even included and yet it's supposed to be a large driving part of the plot - I'm not entirely sure but I think Shrek even considers an Ogre abortion. Next problem, let's see here, ah yes... Charming and his bad guys. This part is actually pretty well written; Charming may be vile, conceited and obnoxious but he asks the audience what about 'my happily ever after?' The best comparison I can make is to the dragon in the first film, who ends up marrying the Donkey... and has sex with it... and spawns half-breeds; all... disgusting... images. It's an interesting concept that's followed for a while but dumped very quickly and summed up with a crappy heart-to-heart.
Then there's the comedy, the songs and the pop-culture references. The plot doesn't really make much sense and completely ignores the first two films but these could be overlooked if this film was funny. If I was being entertained I would only be aware of plot-holes much later on but there's not even one decent joke! The intelligence and innuendo have been cut down, which will alienate adult audiences and the fairytale references, for the kids, have been reduced to brief cameos. The funny element of the first film was taking a typical fairytale story and messing with it; this pattern has changed somewhat and now reads, 'take the plot of the second movie and mess with it so we can make more money.' The lack of originality is beyond all belief! Then there are the songs and pop-culture references. I loathe them. The songs are poorly timed, paced and chosen (see my highlighted scene below for more), feeling more like an advert for the soundtrack rather than well-chosen pieces that accentuate the humour! The worst type of comedy is one that heavily relies on pop culture. Sometimes this works well but in five years time we'll all be scratching our heads, asking who they were referring to and why the felt it necessary to include them in the plot (Answer: just because they were big in early 2007 and it's an easy way to get a cheap laugh).
I know this hasn't been much of a steady review, I've let you all down, haven't I? I'm sorry. Just two more points, then I'll wrap up, I promise. The first is the cast. I'm sick of Eddie Murphy, he did well in Dreamgirls but blew it with Norbit and insists on loud, irritating characters that really arenít funny. Myers' faux-Scottish accent is really starting to annoy me, it was ok the first time round, ignorable the second but I am now sick and tired of it. The other problem was the body-switch, a plot thread that was supposed to be funny and entertaining (Donkey and Puss exchange bodies) but it just feels like a bad day in the recording studio - in which Murphy picked up the script and starting reading the wrong lines. Not funny, not entertaining, not worth it. I realise there are many fans out there who will not only pay to see this film but really enjoy it (not dissimilar from our wannabe reviewer Shie2rk) but that doesnít stop this from being a nasty little cash-in that Dreamworks should be ashamed of producing. All I can say is that I am expecting the same nonsense in the Christmas special and the now-confirmed Shrek 4. OH! And Eric Idle plays Merlin! Why did I end on that? Because I've read a couple of public comments that exclaim that particular sentence as if it's enough to save the film; it's really not.
29th June 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
The King is dead. During his 'burial' they place him in a shoe box and float him out on a pond; I couldn't tell you why. I get the whole frog/pond thing but where's the corpse going to go? Just hang around until it sinks? That's pretty harsh for a King. Anyway, his corpse is sailing around and a choir of frogs start singing "Live & Let Die." Of all the weird choices for funeral music, "Live & Let Die," are you serious? What's that got to do with anything? That... just doesn't make any sense at all. The whole thing feels like it's trying to be serious and get a laugh at the same time - which pretty much sums up the whole movie for you. Also the appalling climax to the showdown which disposes of Charming in the same way that Spielberg got rid of Hook in... Hook.
Puss In Boots, end of story. Hook [Ian McShane] was another pointless little add-on but for one moment of sheer insanity, I actually laughed. As the bad guys are launching their attack, Captain Hook appears and shouts, "Arr! We meet again, Peter Pan!" The camera cuts to a woman clutching her young son, whimpering, "His name's not Peter!" Hook instantly dismisses it by saying, "Shut it, Wendy!" Not funny, at all but I was laughing any way. Why was I laughing? Possibly because I thought of Hook living in Los Angeles, hating all children and going around calling every young boy Peter and every girl Wendy and slashing wildly with his Hook and sword... it seemed more entertaining than what I was watching.
"The cat turned into a little horse that smells like feet; what's to get?"
In A Few Words:
"A truly terrible cash-in. It will make millions but please avoid this film if you can"