DreamWorks Animation – continuing to cash out by releasing sequels and spin-offs to their higher grossing films, Puss in Boots being their second one of the year.
Is this a bad thing? Well as long as they are consistent, of course not. Kung Fu Panda 2 was one of those; it was a fantastic sequel that was a success both financially and critically. The reason for this was despite the unoriginal, familiar narrative, it was gorgeous to look at every scene in Kung Fu Panda 2 with the 3D incorporated plus there was more than enough charm in the characters and wit in the dialogue for it to conclude satisfyingly. Puss in Boots is just the same, except it has an advantage.
That advantage being that it is a significant improvement on the latter half of the Shrek films. So how is this advantageous? Because Kung Fu Panda 2 may have had high expectations for some and therefore left those ones disappointed that it didn't reach the heights the original one did, but Puss in Boots restores faith in the quality-diminishing Shrek series.
For one, it replenishes the energy in the scenes that vibrated the first two Shrek films and comes complete with the sharp, funny dialogue. Again, this instalment in the series is pop culture potshot galore. For the younger target audience that are unlikely to understand the humour in some of the dialogue, there is plenty of physical humour in the film provided. My personal favourite intertextual reference had to be at the beginning of the friendship between Humpty Dumpty (voice of Zach Galifianakis) and Puss (Antonio Banderas) when Humpty tells him about his bean collecting – "First rule of bean club, you do not talk about bean club." It gives many nods to classic Westerns – as well as taking their clichés and utilising them for its own story.
Puss in Boots is an outlaw, this being established in the pre-title sequence as he enters the bar and gets into some trouble as every protagonist in a Western has done. He is then set on his own mission to escape his town, named El Ricardo, as a fugitive and along the way bumps into what he refers to as a "baaad kitty" – Kitty (voice of Salma Hayek), a female sword-fighting cat along with Humpty whom Puss already knew. The storyline then shifts into a quest for the three to steal magic beans from the local notorious criminals Jack (voice of Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (voice of Amy Sedaris) and use them to grow a beanstalk leading to Giant's castle and grab the golden goose, which should somewhat eventually erase Puss' status as an outlaw. I found this movie to be reminiscent of The Mask of Zorro, and not just because Antonio Banderas is the lead.
The voice acting is good as it always has been in the Shrek series. The casting department has seemed to have newfound talent in Billy Bob Thornton and Zach Galifianakis, who had not had previous voice credits under their names bar, the English version of Princess Monokoke for Bob Thornton. They bring their characters to life as much as possible but that leads me to state a criticism. Character development is lacking in this film. Who each of these characters start with is really how they end up too, with the odd moment here and there where they deliver some philosophical line that they believe in, which is typical in virtually every Hollywood film. However, the each of the characters' character has enough charm and wit to keep the film entertaining for the full 90 minutes and conclude satisfyingly. That last comment was similar to what I stated about Kung Fu Panda 2. And for that same reason, plus the fact that low expectations generated after the failures of Shrek the Third and Forever After will be fulfilled, Puss in Boots is recommended. Plus it's gorgeous to look at every scene in 3D here too. DreamWorks Animation has done it again, hitting two home runs with the same bat, labelled Sequel/Spin-offs, this year.
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