Plot: What’s it about?
It seems like only yesterday that I popped my new DVD of “Shrek” into my player and laughed hysterically. “Shrek”, as we all know, was voiced by Mike Myers who must think he’s Scottish (and he may be, for all I know) as his ogre seemed to be the animation equivalent of another Myers character â€“ “Fat Bastard”. Regardless of the accent, the movie was a tremendous success and it wasn’t long before we were inundated with a sequel. “Shrek 2” delivered more of the goods and even introduced a few new characters; notably Puss N’ Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas). While the originality of the original wasn’t as prevalent, the movie still cleaned up at the box office and no doubt children everywhere were spinning both discs until they could spin no more. The summer of 2007 hit and it was officially dubbed the “Summer of Thirds” in that a majority of the films were the last part of a trilogy. Films like “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Rush Hour”, “Shrek” and “Ocean’s Thirteen” were all the third entry in their respective series. “Shrek 3” opened in May and while it didn’t the acclaim the first movie did, it does retain the magic of what has made the series so popular. The animation is top notch, right up there with the Pixar films but something about the movie just seemed…stale.
In this installment we learn that Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and Shrek (Mike Myers) are living the quiet life back in the swamp. Fiona is ready to start a family but before that can happen, Shrek learns that his father-in-law (John Cleese) is near death. Shrek is the next logical replacement to the throne, but he has his reservations. Instead Shrek decides to seek out the true successor (Justin Timberlake) and solve two problems. It’s also dropped on Shrek that he’s to be a father, something that he’s not looking forward to. The only person who’s not too happy about this news is Price Charming (Rupert Everett) as he assembles a group of the nastiest lowlifes to try and stop Shrek from accomplishing his goal. As we might expect along the way there’s battles, duals and plenty of satire to boot, but what’s lacking is the originality. By now we’re so accustomed to the talking gingerbread man, the cat that can make moon eyes and the donkey (Eddie Murphy) that just won’t shut up. Just like all fairy tales, will we have a happy ending or will the bad folks have their say at the end of the day?
“Shrek the Third” isn’t a bad movie in the least, heck if I hadn’t see the other two then I’d probably think much more of it. The trouble is that everyone’s seen the others and the characters that were once entertaining and original are now complacent and boring. Yes, the inclusion of some new blood like Merlin (Eric Idle), Artie (Timberlake) and Captain Hook (Ian MacShane) are nice but they don’t distract from the fact that the entire movie is so “been there, done that.” That’s not a factor as far as box office goes, however. “Shrek the Third” was one of the top-grossing films of the year and as long as movies make money, they continue to make movies. While not as enjoyable as the first two “Shrek” movies, this third installment does deliver on what it’s supposed to: more of the same. However if I really want to enjoy one of these movies, I’ll likely whip out my old DVD of “Shrek” and be happy with that.
Video: How does it look?
This HD DVD version of “Shrek the Third” certainly looks amazing as we’d expect it to. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer is nothing short of perfect. Computer animated movies like this will always look amazing on screen and just like Disney’s Pixar line of animated movies, I found literally no fault with the image at all. The green of Shrek and friends is nearly 3-D and even the tiniest nuances seem to stand out in high definition. Granted, the movie is new to the format and one of the bigger titles of the year so anything less than perfect wouldn’t be expected. I’m running out of things to say here, it’s computer animation taken directly from a digital source, the movie isn’t too long and it’s on HD DVD â€“ the transfer is perfect.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was a bit surprised to find only a Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack instead of a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, nevertheless the audio found here is fairly impressive, but most of the gags are on screen. What we get doesn’t sound bad in the least; I’m just wondering how much better it could sound if we’d get a true uncompressed track to listen to. Dialogue is very rich and natural and the surround effects make their presence known in several scenes. The general ambiance is there and I really found nothing to complain about as far as the audio goes â€“ then again I didn’t find anything that really struck me as very memorable either.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As one of Paramount/Dreamworks biggest HD DVD titles (the other being “Transformers”) to hit the market, the disc is wisely packed with plenty of extras. Though the more entertaining extras, such as a commentary track, aren’t present we do get plenty of behind the scenes materials. The aptly-titled “Meet the Cast” is merely that, a slew of interviews with the actors that lent their voices to the movie: Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Mike Myers to name a few. We also get “Shrek Tech” which focuses on the animation and how the characters were made and so on. We then get some “Lost Scenes” which aren’t really full scenes, mainly taken from meeting with the filmmakers and also a few minutes of outtakes. By far the most worthless “feature” is the Donkey Dance which is nothing but Eddie Murphy singing the 80’s classic “Safety Dance”. There are some trailers, though not for any of the “Shrek” movies as well as “Shrek’s Guide to Parenthood”. Some other features are designed more for the tikes like “Merlin’s Crystal Ball” which is an interactive version of the toy and there’s an option to customize the menus as your favorite “Shrek” character. There’s an HD DVD exclusive track entitled “The Animators Corner” which shows the movie in storyboard format while the movie is running. This is a neat feature and one I’d like to see on more discs. Finally, if your player is connected to the internet (and with HD DVD, you have to be physically connected as it doesn’t use WiFi like the PS3), there’s a few downloads that you can play with as well.