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Non-Review Review: Shrek the Third

The biggest problem with Shrek the Third is arguably reflected in its lead character. Despite producing two sequels, making a boatload of money and establishing a massively iconic franchise, it seems like the creators are unwilling to accept their changed reality. Much like the title character refuses to adapt to his new-found circumstances, and the possibility that he will become a father, Shrek the Third refuses to admit that it has essentially become the fairy-tale establishment that it so sorely ridiculed and mocked. The wry and subversive take of fairy tales championed by the original Shrek is no longer on the outside looking in, but on the inside looking out. Shrek the Thirdjust stubbornly refuses to accept that.

Has the franchise lost direction?

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Non-Review Review: Shrek 2

Shrek 2 is quite entertaining. It’s not nearly as good as the original Shrek, but it doesn’t feel quite as tired or stale as the two films that would follow. There’s still an endearingly subversive streak to the film, and the series hasn’t quite evolved into the very thing it was originally mocking. While it is charming, witty and intelligent, there’s a case of diminished returns. In particular, this time around, the series is growing increasingly dependent on pop culture references and cheesy “in-joke-y” references. While, again, not quite as bad as the two films that would follow, it’s a sign of things to come. Still, despite that, Shrek 2 has its heart in the right place, and continues the original’s spirited deconstruction of the Disney fairytale franchises. It’s only slightly diminished by the fact that it is gradually evolving into one itself.

Happily ever after?

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Non-Review Review: Shrek

I caught Shrek again at the weekend, and I’m surprised how well it still holds up. Of course, part of my concern was that the sequels might have somehow retroactively impacted on my opinion of the original film, but I’m always a little hesitant to return to films I greatly enjoyed when I was younger – afraid that they might have been superseded by movies I’ve seen in the years since, or perhaps victim to slightly changing tastes. To be honest, it help up very well, and I was genuinely reminded of why I enjoyed it so much over a decade ago.

A fairy tale romance?

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Non-Review Review: Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots is a fun film. It’s a very fun family film that works because it never takes itself too serious. Breaking free of the increasingly irrelevant Shrek films, which devolved into exactly the type of feel-good fairy tale stories they originally savagely lampooned, Puss in Boots benefits from the freedom to define its own identity. Of course, it retains the trappings (after all, Puss inhabits a world with Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue), but it doesn’t carry the same level of baggage that its parent series does. It’s not a vicious parody of Disney values, and in fact feels remarkably straight-forward. However, the simplicity of its approach is remarkably endearing, and means it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Puss in Boots is solidly entertaining family fair, arriving perfectly in time for the holidays.

Here, kitty kitty kitty...

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Non-Review Review: Tangled

Disney’s 50th animated feature film is something of a return to traditional values. Despite the surrounding discussion about whether this would be Disney’s last “princess” fairytale film or whether boys would respond to the story of Rapunzel, the movie is assuredly old school in its style. Although the way that it has been handled by the studio betrays a stunning insecurity about it, it’s self-assured a good old fashioned fairytale at heart. Though it moves away from hand-drawn animation to computer-generated imagery (though it’s reportedly heavily influenced by the old-school approach to animation), it couldn’t be more of a traditional Disney film if it tried. After so many attempts to update, subvert, revise, deconstruct or play with that classic formula, sometimes it’s nice to be served a traditional film, straight-up.

Go on, let your hair down!

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