"“A colourful experience for the viewer, boasting a bright, vibrant aesthetic, impressive enough to cover up some of the frivolities within the story…”"
I’ve got to be honest; I wouldn’t have had Puss in Boots down as the luminary character from the Shrek franchise, and had initially struggled to envisage what a spin-off feature film would produce. However, Puss in Boots is a fun, vigorous film, as the sword-fighting feline proves there is more to him than meets the eye. And he is just so god-damn cute.
The film acts as a prelude to the Shrek series, as we follow Puss in Boots’ (Antonio Banderas) journey from being a young orphan, to the menacing outlaw, and seductive lover he becomes. As a young kitten he befriends fellow orphan Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), as the pair dream of one day obtaining Jack and the Beanstalk’s magic beans and getting their hands on the golden goose.
However, as Humpty betrays Puss, the latter becomes an fugitive, living in the shadows, unable to return home to his native town where he is wanted by the police. Humpty, alongside the magnetic Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), then decides to seek out Puss, in an attempt to persuade the cat to rejoin the quest for magic beans and return home a hero.
Despite being a harmless, child orientated action-animation, director Chris Miller is clearly an admirer and enthusiast for old spaghetti westerns and film noir; two genres that prove a certain influence on the feature. Amidst such influences comes a Latin ambience, as with the setting, accents of the voice-over artists and the inclination towards Spanish enthused dancing, the film embraces its worldly feel.
The film’s greatest achievement however is the visual spectacle it provides. Shot using stereoscopic 3D, this film works as an advocate for the effect, particularly in animation where anything is possible. There are a plethora of immense, supernatural scenes, with castles in the sky, and giant geese invading small towns – all of which look spectacular.
Such animation looks even greater when combined with such a stylish fervour, and a vivacious set of visuals. Puss in Boots is a colourful experience for the viewer, boasting a bright, vibrant aesthetic, impressive enough to cover up some of the frivolities within the story.
Which leads me to my next point, and, perhaps I am being pedantic, but much of the story doesn’t actually make any sense. In Shrek it is equally as outlandish and magical, but sets itself in Fairytale Land, therefore excusing any peculiar, paranormal behaviour. However, Puss in Boots is set in Spain, and perhaps needs some slight explanation as to why a talking cat and rotund egg are walking the streets.
Perhaps this could have been helped by mentioning, or referring to elements from the Shrek series in some way, in order to make the audience aware of why and how fairytale characters came to be involved in everyday life, especially for those unacquainted with the Shrek franchise.
Having said that, I remain pleased that Shrek isn’t referred to at all within the film, as this allows for Puss in Boots to stand alone as a feature film, bearing its own cinematic identity.
As pleasing and enjoyable as this feature is, its inclination towards action over substance really highlights the difference between Pixar and Dreamworks.
There appears to be much less depth and poignancy in Dreamworks productions, often relying more on its visual experience, featuring more battle sequences and chases, whereas in Pixar productions, there appears to be more of a tendency towards sentiment, and family values – an aspect Puss in Boots is certainly lacking in, bearing little resonance within its more emotional, moral subjects.
However, this film more than matches the comedic qualities within Pixar productions, as Puss in Boots features a host of very funny laugh-out-loud scenes, most memorably by the ‘Ohhh Cat’, a hilarious character whom almost certainly deserves a spin-off of its own.