Monday, May 21, 2007

Shrek and Sequels

Shrek the Third did great business its opening weekend, taking in more money and drawing slightly more people than the second movie and doing a lot better than the original.

So, how does it compare? Like Spider-Man 3, I thought that it was better the the first but not as good as the second. The first was a children's story with a light plot. Dreamworks added in some topical references and a Disney parody. More than one critic described it as an extended "Fractured Tairy Tail". The second movie upped the anti. Shrek moved on to a bigger kingdom with a larger cast and a more complex plot. For the third movie, the plot is simplified. Instead of a new kingdom we get a couple of scenes in a high school. We got a few new characters - mainly some princesses and a slightly boring Arthur.

It's not unusual for movie franchises to bog down after a while. There are exceptions. Movies based on book series do well. The Lord of the Rings probably doesn't count but the 3rd Harry Potter movie was a significant improvement over the first two. Of all the James Bond movies, Goldfinger was one of the best. The first two were smaller, the following ones were over the top. In many ways, Son of Frankenstein was the best of the series. Of the Star Wars movies, Return of the Jedi was not as good as The Empire Strikes Back but Revenge of the Sith was the best of the prequel trilogy.

Often, when a successful movie is adapted from a single book or character, it starts to run out of steam by the third installment. Both Superman and Batman were showing signs of wear by the third movie and died after the fourth installments. X-Men 3 was better-plotted than X2 but the high body count left a bad taste in my mouth.

We are not finished with the 3s yet. Pirates 3 starts Friday and Rush Hour 3 comes out next month (to say nothing of Harry Potter 5). We will see how these hold up.

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