Puss In Boots - TV Review

'Where Shrek skilfully flipped stereotypes from both traditional stories and mainstream cinema to excellent effect, Puss In Boots just takes different ideas and mashes them together whether it works or not'.

A spin-off prequel to the Shrek franchise, Puss In Boots perhaps unfairly has some considerable ground to make up before it even starts thanks to the comprehensively horrible third and fourth installments of the ogre-centric series. DreamWorks clearly went into this film hoping to rejuvenate one of their flagship franchises after pummeling it into the ground and discarding the grumpy green one unceremoniously back to his swamp. The problem is, the studio goes too far: Puss In Boots constantly feels like it is overly desperate to emerge as the new Shrek, which ultimately ends up biting it on its furry feline backside much more often than not.

Director Chris Miller (previously responsible for Shrek The Third, one of the most putrid animated films ever made) basically throws every familiar element of the Shrek series into Puss In Boots and hopes it works. And, purely thanks to the law of averages, some of it does. There are frenetic, colourful action sequences aplenty that are likely to keep the younger members of the audience perfectly happy. Antonio Banderas too makes a satisfying return as the galoshed grimalkin, and partnering him with Salma Hayek's shadowy outlaw Kitty Softpaws offers some pleasing moments throughout. There are also a few satisfying stylistic nods to Spaghetti Westerns and Latin American cinema early on in the film, something which Miller would have done well to continue throughout.

But for every idea that happens to fall into the right place, there are usually two or three others which misfire considerably. Where the original Shrek film skilfully flipped stereotypes from both traditional stories and mainstream cinema to excellent effect, Puss In Boots just takes different ideas and mashes them together whether it works or not. The fairytale elements here constantly jar with each other, with no effort to try and piece anything together meaningfully. The narrative is the most obvious and most damaging example: a disorderly jumble of half-baked elements from the story of Jack And The Beanstalk, with twisted versions of nursery rhyme characters Jack And Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) and Humpty Dumpty (Zack Galifianakis) thrown in without much thought. The intention to work the same magic as was achieved with Shrek fourteen years ago is clear, but Miller obviously has no understanding of how or why the method worked back then, resulting in his film largely feeling like a woefully misjudged mess.

Miller's film sadly stands for much of DreamWorks' animated output of late: at times nice to look at, and a few good ideas scattered throughout, but with absolutely nothing of substance or heart underneath. Puss In Boots ultimately gives you no reason to care about it at any point, something which is becoming increasingly true of everything the studio puts out that isn't instructing you on disciplining mythical flying lizards.





By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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