Sunday, 11 December 2011

PUSS IN BOOTS (2011) - 3 1/2 STARS

"All that I need, are the boots!" 

Following the end of one of the most popular franchises of the noughties', Dreamworks decided to keep the memories of the Shrek films alive by making a spin-off looking at the legend of one of its most beloved characters; feline outlaw Puss In Boots. A scene stealer when he made his entrance in Shrek 2 (2004), Puss became adored by audiences with his Zorro-like personality, his charm and most of all his doting eyes used mostly to distract enemies. With this film though, we get the back-story of how he came to be, and it does a considerable job of adding some credibility to the Shrek series after its success weltered away in the final two films. It also proves that a supporting character from a popular franchise can carry a film on their own....

A long time ago before meeting Shrek, our furry warrior (Antonio Banderas) learns the tale of a trio of magic beans which if planted in the correct spot could lead to a path into the heavens to get to a young goose who lays golden eggs. However the beans are protected by Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris) whose ruthless persona proves a challenge for Puss though when he attempts to steal the beans he gets compromised by a master thief who turns out to be a she named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). It turns out she is working alongside an old friend of Puss's, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galafianakis) who Puss has had history with as we soon learn in flashback about Puss's humble beginnings which reveal more of how he became the thing he is today whilst showing what lead to his dissociation with Humpty. However Kitty's influence forces Puss to reluctantly agree to work with Humpty again as the trio set off to find the beans and then track down the little goose up in the heavens who could make or break their destinies....

Though this film doesn't quite the hit the heights of the first couple of Shrek films, it still entertains its audiences with a flowing story and more striking characters to embrace. The cleverness of the creator's aim is showcased by humorous set-pieces from the slick dance fight between Puss and Kitty to the background cat who keeps popping up to go 'Ohhh' at certain moments. The script edges in some other mature themes with adult jokes also used through various innuendo and the animation is also awe-inspiring with plenty of other great visual action scenes. Even without a cameo from Shrek, the film still keeps us distanced from that story, instead giving us plenty of detail regarding Puss and his legacy. Banderas once again provides the voice of Puss and continues to model him on his iconic Zorro role from the two live action films with similar elements. Galifianakis voices the misunderstood character Humpty Dumpty who provides that balance of villainy and sympathy displayed, not wanting to stereotype himself around his Alan character from The Hangover (2009). But the addition of Hayek as Kitty is also inspired with her seductive charm making Kitty a no-nonsense cat refusing to be overshadowed by her male co-stars with the chemistry between her and Banderas being just as strong here as it was for their previous four collaborations including Desperado (1996) and Frida (2002).

The most glaring problem with the film is the script which gives plenty of background with the characters but the story does sometimes distract itself with trying to cram as many fairytale stories/characters as possible e.g. Jack and Jill, Jack and the Beanstalk, Mother Goose, etc. The jokes are a little limited too mostly revolving around our hero being a cat or Humpty Dumpty being an egg while some of the innuendo may be a little too inappropriate for children though the Shreks films were just as bad when it came to those type of jokes but most people have to realise how exposed our young audiences are with film nowadays.

VERDICT: Our latino kitty shines in his solo film debut with plenty of wit and action to entertain families, and whilst not on a par with the earlier Shrek films, it makes a case of why more animated sidekicks deserve their own spin-offs, fear them if you dare!


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