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SHREK THE THIRD
Schizophrenic animated score has its moments
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 DreamWorks Animation, LLC; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
The extraordinary success of the mildly-diverting Shrek led to an inevitable sequel, which was worse but made even more money. Rinse and repeat, as they say - the third film came out in 2007, generally got panned by critics, but has so far made over $300m in the US alone. The fourth in the series is due in 2010. I can't begin to understand the success, but obviously a lot of people love the series. Director Andrew Adamson did not return for the third instalment, but composer Harry Gregson-Williams did. Since his and John Powell's score for Shrek, his career has really taken off, and I doubt there is any coincidence - he did the second score solo, and has squeezed in a couple of other animations during his prolific years since, generally writing nice music which doesn't necessarily leave much of an impression.
Shrek 2's score was surprisingly long-lined and consistent, making a fine album - it's immediately obvious that the music in Shrek the Third is returning to something closer to the frenetic, more traditional animated style of the first score. This approach takes a great deal of skill to pull off (in terms of making a listenable soundtrack album from it) - with all the twists and turns, constant shifts from one style of music to another, I'm not really convinced that this album has done it.
There are some fine individual moments here, admittedly coming mostly when music from the previous scores is being reprised, but the package as a whole doesn't quite work - there's only so often the listener can take 180 degree shifts in style within a couple of minutes before simply becoming exhausted. The themes - particularly the main, heroic theme - are impressive, but it's hard to get a latch on them when they're only presented in few-second bursts. This is the kind of score which - despite having nothing inherently wrong with it, and indeed quite a lot right with it - just doesn't quite gel together. It's still entertaining, and has several fine moments, but is a step back from the second entry in the series, and frankly there have been so many scores just like this in recent years it's hard to care all that much any more.