Movie: Shrek the Third

Shrek 3 PosterThis is the third movie in the Shrek saga and it is filled with characters we are pretty familiar with at this point. Shrek and Fiona are married and living in the swamp, but they get called back to Fiona’s parents’ castle because her father is dying. There they take on royal duties for him for a while, thinking it will only be temporary. Unfortunately, he dies and leaves Shrek his kingdom. The only other person who could conceivably become king of Far Far Away is a scrawny kid named Arthur who is busy being bullied off in a high school somewhere a ways away. Since Shrek doesn’t want the throne, he sets off to find said scrawny kid and force him to take it. With him, of course, are Donkey and Puss. Meanwhile, Fiona reveals that she is pregnant and all the princesses squeal in delight (Shrek isn’t quite so thrilled, but Fiona doesn’t know that). While Shrek is away, the villains of the fairy tale world all decide to stage a coup and Prince Charming installs himself as the ruler of the kingdom. Lucky for Far Far Away, the princesses prove more of a challenge than he anticipated. Chaos ensues and eventually all is worked out happily.

The most interesting plotline in this movie from my perspective was that of the fairy tale princesses. They start out pretty shallow and really seem about as ornamental and useless as the writers could possibly make them, but over the course of the story they actually prove pretty effective. The thing is, they use the traits from their fairy tales to fight their battle (Snow White sings to get the birds and furry creatures of the woods to attack the guards, Sleeping Beauty collapses and trips guards, Cinderella throws a razor sharp glass slipper as a weapon, etc.). This is not only a good comic device, but it also proves a pretty interesting storytelling element. It shows the women recognizing that their real best weapon is the element of surprise. No one expects them to put up a fight, so when they do, it distracts even the enemies not directly affected by the attack itself. And they definitely use those distractions to their advantage! Clearly these are not the damsels in distress we thought they were! It may have taken Fiona to push them to do this, but she didn’t have much time in which it convince them, so they must have had that strength within them to begin with, they just didn’t ever use it. I’m not saying that the portrayals were all as forward-thinking as one might want, but this is definitely way more twenty-first century than the majority of Princess movies than come out!

Overall I really enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t amazing high-quality cinema by any means, but it was fun and had some very interesting interpretations of fairy tales and legends (Camelot played a big part of this story). It seems like the people writing the Shrek movies have realized that the world they are playing with allows them more freedom to experiment with stereotypes and expectations than perhaps a more traditional setting would. And the best part is, they seem to be getting better at it since this movie was better than Shrek 2! Perhaps that means if there is a fourth one it has a good chance of being even more interesting yet! That said, I don’t think there needs to be any more in the series. This one made a good ending.

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