Film Review: Puss in Boots

Shrek is a franchise that began brightly, but diminished in quality with more recent instalments. Thankfully spin-off Puss in Boots bucks this trend, offering an entertaining movie that should please family audiences.

Puss in Boots is an outlaw; his face appearing on wanted posters all over town. When he hears about some magic beans, Puss is determined to seek them out, even if it puts him in danger. As he tries to obtain them, Puss finds he has a masked rival after the same treasure…

Puss in Boots works successfully as a origins tale of one of the best-loved characters in the Shrek franchise. Although the character first appeared in another film series, Puss in Boots functions as a stand-alone film. The film launches into the action almost immediately, before a lengthy flashback fills in Puss’ background. The narrative has some predictable aspects, but pacing is good.

Like the franchise that spawned it, Puss in Boots is made enjoyable through its use of humour. The comedy operates on different levels, with something to appease a wide age demographic. The universal humour is great; it is sufficient in quality to amuse adults as well as children. References and jokes geared towards older viewers also work well, for example the allusion to James Bond at the very beginning is an amusing introduction. Like Shrek, some of the humour relies on knowledge of fairy tales, with well-known characters being altered to suit the narrative and generate laughs.

Antonio Banderas does a fine job voicing the title character. Salma Hayek rises to the challenge as Kitty Softpaws, while Zach Galifianakis is perfectly cast as the voice of Humpty Dumpty. Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris offer their talents as a very alternative Jack and Jill.

The animation in Puss in Boots is luscious. Particularly striking is Puss’ fur, which appears incredibly realistic. Like a lot of CGI animated films, the 3D works well in providing depth. The soundtrack provides a great accompaniment to the on-screen action, with music integral to the bar scene.

Puss in Boots will give viewers what the expect; a fun, family animation which offers all the ingredients to entertain this audience.

The Empire Big Screen Diaries – Day 3

Like the protagonist on an epic quest in a sword and sorcery film, I embarked on the final day of Empire Big Screen. First order of business was the Paramount Showcase. After a brief video animating the company’s biggest films, a series of trailers were shown. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was followed by Paranormal Activity 3 and Like Crazy. After this, a featurette on Cowboys and Aliens was screened, introduced by Jon Favreau (on video). We also got to see a short clip of the Footloose remake, and the trailer for The Devil Inside (which was highly reminiscent of last year’s The Last Exorcism). Two clips of the Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots were then screened. Te footage was great; the film looks as if it will be very funny. To round things off, footage of The Adventures of Tin Tin was screened with a message from producer Peter Jackson and director Steven Spielberg. The clips looked good, but I always think humans in CG-animation look weird.

After a brief interlude, the Lionsgate Showcase began. After the trailer for A Dangerous Method was shown, we got to see footage from Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus. Set in the modern day but with the original Shakespearean dialogue, the film looks interesting if a little unusual. The showcase was rounded up by four trailers – 50/50, Abduction, Warrior and Conan the Barbarian.

Seizing the opportunity for a proper lunch break, we headed to Armadillo (again). My fish burger was nice, but I felt bad that we didn’t leave a proper tip. In fairness, it was all the change we had, but apologies to Armadillo staff.

The Disney Showcase was the final one of the weekend. Real Steel was first up, with director Shawn Levy on stage to talk about the film. He also gave away tickets to the premiere, but asked the most difficult question ever. Needless to say, I did not know the answer. Two clips were then screened; the film looks like fairly standard family fare. Andrew Stanton then introduced John Carter and footage from the film was screened. Finally, Steven Spielberg (by video) introduced some footage of his upcoming film War Horse. What struck me more than anything was that Spielberg seems to have some hand in directing or producing many of the films discussed this weekend. He may have even a hand producing this post. Human star of the film Jeremy Irvine then came on stage to discuss making War Horse.

After hanging out in the press room for a bit (Jeremy Irvine was being interviewed there, talent-spotters!), it was time for The Muppets! Director of The Muppets James Bobin and star Kermit the Frog were interviewed live via satelite. I was told that the Muppets were originally meant to appear in person. Maybe it is just as well this did not happen, as I may have got kicked out for running up on stage and hugging Kermit. The interview was a lot of fun, and the clip screened involved Kermit singing a song. It almost brought a tear to the eye…

After all that excitement, it was time for the Conan the Barbarian premiere. Jason Momoa was present to introduce the film, shown at the biggest screen at the O2 Cineworld. The film was pretty disappointing itself (review to follow).

After the very last visit to the press room, I went to the secret screening. Cineworld tried to rob me blind with their popcorn prices, after which I settled down to watch the film. Before it started, I asked the gentleman next to me if he knew what the film was (I did by this point). When he answered “Cowboys and Aliens” I was perplexed, and thought he was joking until he showed me his ticket. I was in the wrong screen. After cursing my stupidity, I ran next door and luckily the trailers were still on. I then settled down to watch The Debt, a very good thriller (review to follow). And that concluded Empire Big Screen; the film was good way to end a busy but exciting weekend.

Many thanks to Empire and Romley Davies for having me, plus all the lovely people who made the weekend so much fun (you know who you are!).