It has just been the start of the summer season, and the sequels are raking in the millions, despite lacklustre reviews no doubt stemming from familiarity and expectations built from successes of the predecessor films. Still, they are raking in the millions, and possibly the largest franchises in recent years converge onto 2007 as they feature their third movies, and leaving the door open for possibly more to come. Spidey 3 had too many characters, as did Pirates 3, as they both seek to expand the fantasy world they belong to, which to some worked against their favour as it meant less screen time for some beloved characters.
And we welcome back our favourite giant green ogre Shrek, who in its third installment, expands its mythology as well with the introduction of various characters from the Camelot tale, most notably those of Lancelot, Genevieve, Merlin and of course, Arthur himself. As we last left out heroes, Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are back to living with royalty in the kingdom of Far Far Away, now with pals Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and family.
Now if that's a handful, wait till the story moves forward with Shrek and the faithful buddies going on a mission to seek out an heir to the throne, Artie/Arthur (Justin Timberlake), who certainly doesn't bring the sexy back to the crown, and you must watch this as once again the filmmakers turn on their creativity and cunningness to develop a character (and other characters) in ways you'd never expect them to behave. Which is what most audiences would have enjoyed with the previous films, though this time round, there seemed to be a line drawn on the ground not to overdo the references to pop culture, sight gags and rounds of puns.
And the villainous Prince Charming is back, with ambitions to be King Charming, and here's where the story fell a bit short, as it adapted from the other animated movie Happily N'ever After, where the bad guys who always seem to have their luck run out, group together and forcefully take over the kingdom. It's a pity the majority aren't memorable, given that we're already so familiar with the good guys, and they just fail to add more colour, instead it became repetitive with Charming's narcissistic behaviour. Boring.
But there are good moments in the movie though, and I can't get enough of those princess types in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Despite its expanded cast, the story still managed to put focus on our main trio of Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots, at the expense of Fiona who becomes more of a side with her anxious maternal instincts kicking in. The story did feel at times to drag along, especially with Shrek playing surrogate father of sorts, and its trying real hard in attempts to weave in some feel good, moral messages, slowing down the pace, and at one point, tried to go back to its zany ways with some inane happenings, as if a sudden jolt of a reminder not to bore with preachy stuff.
Perhaps Shrek 3 might have lost some of its charm, but it definitely is miles ahead of the poorly animated Legend of the Sea. It's a no brainer which animated movie to watch this school holidays.