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Shrek the Third (HD DVD) - animated DVD review
SHREK THE THIRD (HD DVD) Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Justin Timberlake
Directors: Chris Miller and Raman Hui   Studio: Paramount Home Video/Dreamworks
DVD release: 13 November 2007   Feature runtime: 92 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Languages (English Subtitled, French Dubbed & Subtitled, Spanish Dubbed & Subtitled), Audio (2.0 Surround, 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital), Shrek's Guide to Parenthood, Commentary: Meet the Cast, Lost Scenes, Tech of Shrek 3, Music Video: Donkey Dance, Worcestershire Academy Yearbook, Big Green Goofs, DWA Jukebox, Merlin's Magic Crystal Ball, Get Up and Play PSA, Learn the Donkey Dance, How to be Green, DVD Rom (Shrek Shmash Ups, Royal Tournament Games, Printables, Weblinks), "The Animators' Corner" (interactive picture-in-picture featuring storyboards relevant to on-screen scenes, branching to "Lost Scenes"), "The World of Shrek" (biographies of key characters and voice actors), "My Menus" (customizable character-themed menus), "Shrek's Trivia Track" (pop-up fun facts), "Donkey's Digital Coloring Book" (digitally paint favorite scenes)

The HD DVD experience of the third installment in the Shrek franchise gives fans of the softhearted green ogre and company even more to relish.

A failing King Harold (John Cleese, in probably the most hilarious drawn-out death-rattle scene since Paul Reubens in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer) cedes his role as leader of the kingdom of Far Far Away to a reluctant Shrek (Mike Myers). Before he draws his last, though, he croaks out the name of the only other existing heir to the throne: Arthur. Leaving behind Fiona (Cameron Diaz), who sees him off with the surprise announcement that she is pregnant, Shrek, along with faithful sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), heads off to collect Arthur and plant him firmly on the throne in his stead.

Shrek and crew make landfall at the doorstep of Worcestershire High (accompanied by a snippet of The Ramones' "Rock 'n' Roll High School," one of several tasty soundtrack treats) just in time to watch a jock-ish Lancelot unseat teenaged geek Arthur (Justin Timberlake) in a joust. Initially Artie is thrilled with the pronouncement that he is to be king, but after hearing a few more details of the position (like having his very own food taster to screen his meals for poison), he balks and runs off. Eventually, though, he and Shrek bond thanks to the efforts of a New Age-y, post-nervous breakdown Merlin (Eric Idle) endowed with a penchant for short robes and questionable magical abilities.

While the future daddy and the heir are on their way back to Far Far Away, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett as a less-than-middling dinner theater actor) stages a coup with the help of the less loveable fairy-tale characters - Snow White's stepmother, the second ugly stepsister from "Cinderella," Captain Hook, etc.) - sending Fiona, Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), and an assortment of familiar princesses (played with diva-esque aplomb by a trinity of Saturday Night Live comedians plus Amy Sedaris) on the run from Fiona's baby shower, desperately trying to figure out how to stop Charming.

Red format is an especially gratifying way to enjoy the brilliance of the Dreamworks animation team and their technology (the "Tech of Shrek" feature is a paean to computer manufacturer HP). How better to take note of the endless little subtleties that show how far CG has come than a crystal clear shot of small strands of Fiona's hair that have escaped her braids moving in an ever-so-slight wave as she turns her head? The HD DVD contains fun additional features as well, like optional pop-up trivia and "The Animators' Corner" (interactive picture-in-picture featuring storyboards relevant to on-screen scenes, branching to lost scenes).

The most enjoyable moments of the movie sneak up on you in bits of scenes - Pinnochio's convoluted ramblings as he tries to conceal the truth of Shrek's whereabouts and whatabouts from Charming without actually lying, or a sweet-voiced Snow White calling cute forest creatures to her with song, then breaking into the opening howls of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" as she leads an attack on the occupied castle, or Shrek's nightmarish dream sequence fueled by new-father anxieties in which a pram rolls into view behind him and is hit by a tight-focus spotlight, evoking Rosemary's Baby and the ads for It's Alive. As with its predecessors based on William Steig's children's book, this Shrek is a keeper.
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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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