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Another three years passed before we got the third movie of the series, but it seemed that this time the wait didn't help much. What a letdown 'Shrek the Third' – or as I lovingly refer to it as 'Shrek the Turd' – is.
By this time it seemed that the storybook world had worn a little thin. The jokes became humorless. The emotion felt ultra sappy, and the story felt weak.
Prince Charming is still around and angry about how things played out in the second movie. He plots his revenge against Shrek and Fiona by enlisting the local villains such as Captain Hook and some menacing talking trees.
Meanwhile Shrek is being prepped to become the new king, because Fiona's father is sick and about to pass away. Shrek, like usual, bickers about change in his life and longs for his lazy days in the swamp. Ruling a kingdom is the last thing he wants to do. Before his death, Fiona's father, tells Shrek that there is only one other living heir. If he doesn't want to be king he must find Arthur, who is the kingdom's rightful inheritor.
The story coasts along on old jokes, tired references, and some ridiculous plot-convenient scenes like when Fiona's mom all of a sudden realizes that she can headbutt her way through solid stone walls, and then explaining it away by saying, "Well, where do you think you got your fighting skills from Fiona?"
'Shrek the Third' also upped the quotient of potty humor, which when used in doses in the first two movies was fine and somewhat funny. Here it grates on the senses and becomes annoying real fast. When Shrek imagines himself as a father, trying to raise ogre children he imagines one of his kids projectile vomiting like a fire house which he has to fight through. It just gets worse from there. I found myself wondering if the creative team behind the series had finally said, "We give up, let's churn out a movie and see if we can get the total box office above a billion dollars before everyone loses interest in these characters."
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Paramount Home Entertainment offers 'Shrek the Third' to 3D Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. Sitting comfortably on opposing panels, the first is a Region Free, BD50 while the second is a Region 1 locked, DVD-9 containing all the special features. The Blu-ray disc commences with a trailer for 'Puss in Boots' before switching over the standard main menu selection with full-motion clips and music. Despite what the packaging reads, this release comes only with a 3D version of the movie; no 2D alternative is available.
Coming in with slightly better 3D results is 'Shrek the Third,' appreciably lacking many of the anomalies present in the previous two releases. Sadly, the 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 encode is just shy of perfection, mainly due to some minor artifacts. Some negligible banding in the sky still remains and only truly perceptible if you're looking for it, but otherwise, it's easy to ignore thanks to the darkened glasses. A few daylight sequences also come with some ringing around the edges and can be a bit distracting at times. Nevertheless, they are near trivial compared to the first two.
The real excitement comes from the 3D presentation, which is about on par with the sequel but ever so slightly improved. Whether it's due to the animation or the director's style — perhaps, a combination of both — dimensionality is much more consistent and a tad more aggressive, so long as we forgive one or two instances of 2D flatness. Several sequences come with a wonderful pop-up book effect where background scenery reaches deep into the screen, creating a great sense of distance, such as when Charming sits in his alley dressing room. Separation of foreground information is clean with excellent layers between various other objects. Even at the picture's most subtle moments, like Shrek's face, Donkey's snout or when Pinocchio lies, we gather a terrific feel of depth. The real highlight is the villains' raid on the castle from above.
The rest of the 1.78:1 picture frame features the same quality of HD goodness with stupendous clarity and definition throughout. Fine lines in the animated clothing and hair of characters are highly detailed and crystal clear. Of course, Donkey and Puss show off their beautiful coats, swaying and moving with the environment with the sort of swagger and realism as Charming whipping his hair. Speaking of which, we can actually see some skin texture and stubble on Charming's face! Contrast is spot-on with crisp, brilliant whites, and blacks are luxurious with superb shadow delineation. Colors are vivid and brimming with energy, making this a very handsome 3D presentation for fans to enjoy.
No surprise here, this release comes with the same Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack as heard previously, and that's not a bad thing at all. In fact, compared to the first two movies, 'Shrek the Third' offers the much better and engaging presentation, even if it's only a small difference. Here, Harry Gregson-Williams's musical score plays a more prominent role, occupying the back speakers when required with a much more noticeable presence. The pop-songs also bleed into the surrounds, but with a lighter touch. Rear activity is often filled with wonderfully immersive atmospherics while action sequences display flawless pans, enveloping the listener with a highly satisfying soundfield. Once again, Charming and company's raid on the castle is the movie's highlight.
In the fronts, the soundstage generates a terrifically wide image as sound effects zigzag about the screen with convincing movement, surprisingly adding and enhancing an already enjoyable 3D experience. Dynamic range delivers detailed clarity in a variety of loud sounds while maintaining clean differentiation of orchestral music. Bass isn't heavily extensive or authoritative, but does provide a good deal of energy and weight to certain aspects of the action as well as the music. Vocals are very well-prioritized in the center and perfectly audible amid the many scenes of chaos. The lossless mix overall is an absolute joy, augmenting not only the picture quality but also a rather poor script.
Again, many of the same special features from the previous release are ported over to this 3D Blu-ray edition, but only available on the DVD.
The second sequel in the 'Shrek' franchise is an unfortunate and disappointing entry, offering only a few moments of genuine humor. The introduction of Merlin helps to alleviate the story's dullness, but the addition of Justin Timberlake . . . ur, Arthur makes the overall movie a lackluster inclusion to the series. The 3D Blu-ray edition, however, offers a very enjoyable audio and video experience for fans, but bonus section is the same assortment seen on the previous release, making this a decent purchase only for those hungering for more 3D material.