Nov 14, 2011

[Movies] Puss in Boots (2011)

Two major CGI movie franchises "officially" ended recently - these being Toy Story and Shrek. It was about time that both movie franchises tie things up given they had already achieved a lot with their existing movies and going beyond that might just ruin the overall image.

Of course for the movie studios involved, ending the main story doesn't mean totally killing these major cash cows. And now we're seeing some of the supporting characters from the franchises starting to get their own features.

This is the first major one to come along - a movie centered entirely around the character of Puss in Boots, who first appeared in Shrek 2. He was an instant favorite among fans although his evolution in the series was a tad limited. To have a whole movie about him alone would seem like a good idea on paper - it would all just come down to actual execution to make this work or not.

We opted not to see this in 3D since that would involve paying more and having the movie lose some its quality given the format shift. While it was clear in some parts where they folks behind the movie were trying to leverage the 3D aspect of things, I didn't feel we had really lost anything in terms of the story.

Puss in Boots is a 2011 animated feature film directed by Chris Miller with a screenplay by Tom Wheeler, David H. Steinberg and Brian Lynch. The movie was positioned as a spinoff prequel to the main Shrek series set in a different location compared to the other movies.

The movie starts with Puss (Antonio Banderas) on the trail of Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris), two criminals who are rumored to have in their possession the magic beans of legend. Apparently Puss had been looking for them most of his life and he was determined to verify whether or not they existed. It takes a while, but his skills eventually get him into Jack and Jill's rented room, only to have another cat, later revealed to be Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), turns out to be making a similar attempt to acquire the beans. The two face off and eventually are discovered by Jack and Jill.

We eventually find out that his quest for the beans started much, much earlier in life. As an orphan, he had first made friends with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) while under the care of Imelda (Constance Marie). Humpty had always been obsessed about the beans and was proving himself to be quite the skilled inventor. The two eventually became close friends and Puss doing what he could to aid Humpty in his quest. But how they reach their status in the present where Puss can't stand being in the same room as him is something that is best seen in the movie.

Puss in Boots (Shrek)Image via WikipediaThe story has very strong parallels to the Zorro mythos, which is to be expected given the nature of Puss' character. We all knew he was a Zorro-style swashbuckler - the fact that Antonio Banderas had also played Zorro in several movies was just a bonus in this area. So for the writers to make those parallels even more blatant was actually a pretty good move.

The comedy for the movie was pretty good. I felt the beginning and ending of the movie were very strong in this area, with the middle being a tad middling once Humpty Dumpty enters the picture. There's just something wrong about his character whether it's about the writing of his lines, his visual look or the fact that I couldn't get why he was in the movie at all. I'd have wished for someone else to be his childhood friend turned rival, but you take what you can get in these matters.

The movie had all the great stuff we've come to associate with Puss. That means dazzling fight scenes, witty one-liners, a sultry Mexican accent and of course those adorable kitten eyes. While that trick is becoming a bit of a dead horse every time it comes out, it was nice to see them try to spin things a bit in a new direction here and there.

The movie is fun, but not quite as fun as the core Shrek movies. It's certainly an entertaining movie to watch on a lazy weekend and it does stand well enough on its own even without the rest of the Shrek characters. It don't think it would have been worth the extra cash for the 3D experience since the story was just okay and not a total wow to be worth more than what we paid.

Puss in Boots is a decent enough example of how to do a franchise spinoff, although I'd prefer that they stop this practice and instead focus on creating entirely new stories. It still gets by with 3 ridiculous uses of Humpty Dumpty's being an egg out of a possible 5.

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