Shrek the Third Chris Miller and Raman Hui

Shrek the Third Chris Miller and Raman Hui
If we could attribute lifelike activity to the animated figure of Shrek, it would appear as though contract obligations are what coerced the reluctant green ogre back to a franchise gone stale. Shrek seems to be suffering from sequel fatigue, as he goes through the required motions until he can retire back to his swamp. How ironic that this is actually the plot of Shrek the Third.

As the dying Frog King of Far Far Away leaves the responsibilities of the throne to Shrek (Mike Myers) and a pregnant Fiona (Cameron Diaz), our unwilling hero, with aversions to dressing in medieval drag and dreams of farting up a storm at the swamp he left behind, is tasked with finding the only remaining heir to replace him. This successor just happens to be a pubescent loser named Arthur (Justin Timberlake), of Camelot fame.

While Shrek is away on his odyssey to retrieve Arthur, the metrosexual Prince Charming has assembled an army of fairytale villains to perform a coup d'état on Far Far Away, with only Fiona and her cabal of bra-burning feminists, including Cinderella and Snow White, left behind to defend it.

Such an expansive premise seems only natural for a triptych capper bolstered by the successful first two instalments. However, newbie co-directors Chris Miller and Raman Hui have been left with the unpleasant job of finding originality in a franchise that original helmer Andrew Adamson (who abandoned Far Far Away for Narnia) had drained of all its mischief and wit.

As a result, Shrek the Third plays like sketch comedy, abruptly moving from one situation to the next, recycling gags from both its predecessors and television, and reaching further into the loot bag of fairytale personalities (Captain Hook, Rapunzel, etc.) to overpopulate the series with something or anything that’s fresh. Even the franchise’s once reliable postmodernist fairytale pastiche has become formulaic.

Meanwhile, Shrek, who unlike the former director cannot escape his own series, is left playing either cute, threatening or resorting to imitating pop culture, all on the whim of an impatient screenplay. And with a fourth instalment already planned, Shrek is doomed to trolley on in this factory-cycle of sequels until he can apply for early retirement. (Dreamworks)