Everyone wanted another sequel in the 'Shrek' adventure, although acknowledging that it would probably never live up to the first instalment (now that the novelty factor has diminished). It doesn't, nor does it measure up to the second outing but 'Shrek the Third' is still entertaining in parts, due to its great characters, and younger audiences are sure to go crazy for it.

Fiona's father King Harold (Cleese) is at death's door. Aware that he is dying, he names Shrek (Myers) as his successor - a notion that terrifies the friendly ogre. The only other person who has a claim to the throne is a teenager called Artie (Timberlake), who is oblivious to the fact that he could one day be king. And so Shrek, Donkey (Murphy) and Puss (Banderas) set off on another voyage, this time hoping to find Artie.

In the meantime, Prince Charming, who believes he is the rightful king of Far Far Away, has captured Fiona (Diaz), her mother Queen Lillian (Andrews) and their sidekicks and is planning to hold them until Shrek's return. But the ladies have other ideas and aren't afraid to challenge the pretty and highly vain one. In the middle of all this drama Fiona announces that she's pregnant, sending the scared Shrek into panic at thought of becoming a daddy, making for some amusing nightmares.

What 'Shrek the Third' lacks is pace. You never get any feeling of urgency about Shrek's mission, which is played out in a very lacklustre manner. The gags are there but, save a few great one-liners, are just not as obvious and laugh-out-loud as before and the film isn't as layered as the previous two outings. You quickly get the feeling that this movie is very much aimed at the younger generation, with a few sly jokes thrown in for the adults. And if that is the case then it serves that purpose well.

It's a pity though that the third in the franchise couldn't keep up the momentum set by its predecessors. The themes of parenthood, responsibility and power (and the panic attacks each one induces) are good but early on it all seems to meander downhill. You're hoping for a typical Shrek-style rescue but when Damien Rice's '9 Crimes' sounds you know there's no comeback!

To say 'Shrek the Third' is disappointing would, however, be an overstatement. It does a lot of things well - spirited voice acting, great animation and no shortage of fun plotlines - but you just get the feeling that nothing has progressed since our last meeting with the big green ogre and that's a shame.

Linda McGee

To view photos from the 'Shrek the Third' premiere in London click here.