out of Five
Running time: 93
Uninspired threequel, though the animation is better than ever and there's a steady stream of chuckles, even if it does lack the magic of the previous films.
What's it all about?
When the king (John Cleese) of Far Far Away dies, Shrek (Mike Myers) is next in line to the throne. However, Shrek and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) just want to return to their swamp, so Shrek sets off to find long-lost heir to the throne Arthur (Justin Timberlake), accompanied by his faithful, bickering sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas).
Meanwhile, the scheming Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) takes advantage of Shrek's absence to invade the castle and capture Fiona and her mother (Julie Andrews). Will Shrek find Arthur and return in time to foil his dastardly plot?
The voice cast are as good as ever, with the banter between Murphy's Donkey and Banderas' Puss providing most of the highlights. However, the character of Arthur is rather bland, leaving Timberlake with little to do.
The animation is extremely impressive - the water effects are particularly good and there's a huge amount of detail (e.g. the thick black hairs poking out of Shrek's tunic). There are a handful of decent jokes but the only really subversive element this time round is the idea that a donkey and a dragon have produced babies.
The story is rather uninspired and the script is more than happy just to rehash the best jokes from the previous films (Puss In Boots' pleading eyes, the punning shop titles etc). In addition, the plot is often frustrating, leaving potentially interesting subplots unexplored or wasted, such as Arthur's high school or the encounter with Merlin (Eric Idle, hamming it up even in cartoon form).
There's enough here to keep both kids and adults entertained throughout but it's fair to say that the Shrek the Third doesn't really capture the magic of the first two films.
Shrek the Third (U)