Shrek the Third
USINFO | 2013-05-30 16:52

Shrek the Third (also known as Shrek 3) is a 2007 American computer-animated fantasy comedy film, and the third installment in the Shrek franchise. It was produced by Jeffrey Katzenberg for DreamWorks Animation, and is the first in the series to be distributed by Paramount Pictures who acquired DreamWorks Pictures in 2006 (the former parent of DWA). It was released in U.S. theaters on May 18, 2007 (the same release date for the first film in six years). Although the film received mixed reviews from critics, it grossed $798 million, making it a commercial success.

It was produced with the working title of Shrek 3, the name being changed to avoid potential confusion with Shrek 4-D. Like the first two Shrek films, the film is based on fairy tale themes. It was nominated for Best Animated Movie at the 2008 Kids' Choice Awards, but lost to Ratatouille. It was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film at the 61st British Academy Film Awards. This film also pairs former Monty Python members Eric Idle and John Cleese for the first time since 1993's Splitting Heirs (Idle plays Merlin, Cleese plays King Harold).

Prince Charming performs onstage in a bar, vowing that he will become King of Far, Far Away. Meanwhile, King Harold is dying and his ogre son-in-law Shrek and daughter Princess Fiona are to become King and Queen of Far Far Away. Shrek, who is having difficulty serving as Regent during the King's medical leave, insists that an ogre as king is a bad idea and that there must be someone else for the job. Before dying, Harold tells Shrek that there is another heir: his nephew, Arthur Pendragon. Prince Charming goes to the Poison Apple tavern, where he persuades numerous fairy tale villains to fight for their "happily ever after". Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots set out to retrieve Arthur; as they are sailing away, Fiona yells to Shrek that she is pregnant.

The trio journey to Worcestershire Academy, an elite boarding school, where they discover Arthur ("Artie", as he prefers to be called) is a scrawny 16-year old underachiever picked on by everyone. At the school pep rally, Shrek tells Artie he is going to be king of Far Far Away. Artie is excited until Donkey and Puss inadvertently scare him by discussing the responsibilities of being king. Artie tries taking control of the ship and crashes it on an island, where they meet Artie's retired wizard teacher, Merlin.

Charming and the other villains attack the castle, but Wolfie, Pinocchio, Gingie, the Three Little Pigs and the Blind Mice stall them long enough for Fiona and her mother Queen Lilian to escape along with Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Doris the Ugly Stepsister. The ladies are captured when Rapunzel betrays them because she is in love with Charming.

Captain Hook and his pirates track Shrek and company to Merlin's island, where they attempt to capture Shrek and kill the others. Shrek and Artie send the villains running, but not before Hook mentions Charming and the takeover of Far Far Away. Concerned for his wife and future children, Shrek urges Artie to return to Worcestershire. Instead, Artie cons Merlin into using his magic to send them all to Far Far Away. The spell works, but accidentally causes Puss and Donkey to switch bodies. They find Charming and learn that he plans to kill Shrek in a play that night. Charming's men arrive, but Artie tricks the knights into not taking them into custody. They break into the castle during rehearsals for the play. Caught in Charming's dressing room, the four are taken captive.

Charming prepares to kill Artie, believing he is the next king. To save Artie's life, Shrek tells Charming that Artie was a pawn to take his place as King of Far Far Away. Charming believes Shrek and allows Artie to run away. Donkey and Puss are imprisoned with Fiona and the princesses, where Fiona grows frustrated with their lack of initiative. Queen Lilian smashes the stone wall of the prison by head butting the walls. While the princesses launch a rescue mission for Shrek, Donkey and Puss free Gingy, Pinocchio, the wolf and pigs, Dragon and Donkey's children. They encounter Artie, and Puss and Donkey explain to him that Shrek lied so Charming would not kill him.

Charming stages a musical in which he rescues Rapunzel. Just as Charming is about to kill Shrek, Princess Fiona along with Puss, Donkey, the princesses and the fairy tale characters confront the villains. Artie convinces the villains to give up their evil ways.

Charming, furious at being thwarted, lunges for Artie with his sword. Shrek blocks the blow and Charming lunges at him. Shrek, who at first seems fatally injured, informs Charming that he missed and that the Prince needs to keep looking for his own happily ever after. As Shrek pushes Charming aside, Dragon knocks over Rapunzel's tower, crushing Charming. Shrek tells Artie the throne is his if he wants it. Artie chooses to become king. While the kingdom celebrates, Merlin restores Puss and Donkey to their proper bodies, accidentally switching their tails. Shrek retires with Fiona to their swamp, becoming the parents of ogre triplets.

Following the success of Shrek 2, a third and fourth Shrek movie, along with plans for a final, fifth film, were announced in May 2004 by Jeffrey Katzenberg: "Shrek 3 and 4 are going to reveal other unanswered questions and, finally, in the last chapter, we will understand how Shrek came to be in that swamp, when we meet him in the first movie." DreamWorks hired Peter Seaman and Jeffrey Price to write the film and Jon Zack, who wrote The Perfect Score, on board as a consultant. Unlike the first two films, the film was not directed by Andrew Adamson; "No, I can't. They're actually working on the story right now. I'm staying involved, but I can't do that and this." Adamson said.

The film was originally going to be released in November 2006 but was changed to May 2007 in December 2004; "The sheer magnitude of the Shrek franchise has led us to conclude that a May release date, with a DVD release around the holiday season, will enable us to best maximize performance and increase profitability, thereby generating enhanced asset value and better returns for our shareholders." Katzenberg said.

Critical reception

Critical reaction to Shrek the Third was generally mixed, in contrast to the critical acclaim achieved by the previous films. On Rotten Tomatoes, it states that 41% of critics gave a positive review, with an average score of 5.4 out of 10, based on 206 reviews. The film also has an average score of 58 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 35 reviews.

David Ansen wrote that the film's "slightly snarky wit is aimed almost entirely at parents... this one never touched my heart or got under my skin. It's a movie at war with itself: a kiddie movie that doesn't really want to be one." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 2 out of 5 stars. He said the film wasn't "awful, but it's bland, with a barrel-scraping averageness. There are no new ideas, no very funny new characters..." He also called the character Merlin a "frankly unfunny new character" and considered a rip-off of the Harry Potter franchise.

In contrast, writers such as A. O. Scott from The New York Times who held that the film "seems at once more energetic and more relaxed , less desperate to prove its cleverness and therefore to some extent, smarter." The Times newspaper also rated it 2 out of 5.

Box office
Despite these criticisms, Shrek the Third, which opened in 4,122 North American cinemas on May 18, 2007, grossed $38 million on its first day, the biggest opening day for animated film of all time (that record was however later broken in 2010 by Toy Story 3 with $41 million), for a total of $121,629,270 in its first weekend, the best opening weekend ever for an animated film, and the second highest opening for a 2007 film in the United States and Canada. At the time, its opening weekend was the third-highest of all time in these regions, behind Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Shrek the Third grossed $322.7 million in the United States, and $476.2 million overseas, bringing its cumulative total to $799 million. The film is the fourth highest-grossing film worldwide in 2007, only behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Spider-Man 3. It is also the second highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada that year, behind Spider-Man 3. In addition, it is the highest-grossing 2007 animated film, the second highest-grossing film in the series, and the 38th highest-grossing film of all time. Compared to its predecessors and successor, the film also had an unusually short box office lifespan; Shrek the Third spent only 12 weeks in theaters, while Shrek, Shrek 2, and Shrek Forever After were in release for 29, 21, and 16 weeks, respectively.

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