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Puss in Boots(2011)
A story about the events leading up to the sword fighting cat's meeting with Shrek and his friends.
For more about Puss in Boots and the Puss in Boots Blu-ray release, see Puss in Boots Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 21, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Sedaris, Billy Bob Thornton, Guillermo del Toro
Director: Chris Miller
» See full cast & crew
Puss in Boots Blu-ray Review
Not quite the purrfect animated adventure.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 21, 2012
I was a bad kitty.
Cats are so much fun. Especially when they multiply. One becomes three, three sadly reduces to two, a stray third wins the heart, three may as well be four, four begets a fifth, and there won't be a sixth. One falls ill, two loves daddy and despises mommy, three hates all, four loves belly rubs, five finds trouble, one recovers to become a raving mad lunatic with a ravenous appetite, and three settles into a split personality that's two parts love and one part Satan. Then there's using the area beside the litter box as the litter box, vomiting on the tax returns, climbing on counters, shredding furniture, playfully or deliberately scratching humans (ahem, three), hiding when company arrives, beating on the bedroom door at all hours of the night, peeing on the bed when they're let in, running through open doors, begging for food, and always looking far too cute. Puss in Boots is the latest from DreamWorks Animation, and it's a cat lover's dream come true, whether for single cat families, multiple cat families, or anyone who loves cutting edge animation. It captures the heart of cat-dom with remarkable efficiency, but that's about the only time it's truly great. Puss in Boots is otherwise a fun but only serviceable animated movie that doesn't look or sound rushed, but its story plays as if a rough version of a primary draft. The end result is a movie that looks and sounds as good as anything out there and that plays with fine ideas that are spread a bit too thin even as the movie clocks in at a mere 80 minutes in length (minus credits). It should have been more, could have been less, but it won't leave many viewers purring with endless delight when it's all said and done.
At the spectacular Festíval del Fuego, the heroic feline Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) learns that a pair of larger- than-life outlaws -- Jack and Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) -- have come into possession of magic beans, supposedly the same beans for which he has been searching half his life. It seems like a simple enough snatch-and-grab operation. Puss skillfully enters the Jack and Jill residence but his plans are thwarted by the arrival of a second cat burglar, a mysterious masked feline with moves to match Puss' and a cunning that knows no bounds. The operation is a failure; neither cat captures the beans and both barely escape with their lives. Puss learns that his rival is...a girl. She's Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek), a feline as devious as she is sexy. Puss is further surprised to learn that she's in cahoots with none other than Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), his old schoolmate, once best friend, and long-ago traitor. Both see fault in the other following their last run-in with the law, but Humpty convinces Puss to join him and Softpaws on an adventure to not only steal the beans, but to plant them, climb the beanstalk into the clouds, and recover the golden goose to set themselves up for life. Can Puss trust his former blood brother? Is there really something atop the mythical beanstalk? Can they overpower the much larger and devious Jack and Jill? It's a good thing Puss has nine lives with which to find out.
It's a spinoff of the Shrek universe of films, so it's no surprise that Puss in Boots looks and sounds much like Shrek. Its animation is superb, on the same level as the amazing Shrek Forever After, that film pretty much the standard for non-Pixar digital moviemaking and, frankly, just as good as anything the "Big P" has ever put out. Indeed, Puss in Boots looks astonishing. There's a level of detail, scope, and authenticity that's nothing short of spectacular. Yet unlike Shrek Forever After -- or most any of those scenes from that series in which Puss appears -- Puss in Boots never really takes off, perhaps signaling that the character is best left to a supporting role rather than the center of his own feature film. That's not to say there isn't a lot to like about Puss in Boots -- there most certainly is -- but the end result feels rather sloppy, unable to walk that fine line so expertly traversed by the Shrek films whereby the plot is made largely of overused cliché but given new life through the eyes of unique characters plucked almost at random from the world of fairy tales. The primary plot elements in Puss in Boots feel largely tossed together with only little attention to flow or purpose. The movie aims for grand adventure and spectacle rather than a more cohesive story. Certainly the character development and humor are both strong, but all elements never quite come together as they should.
Indeed, the characters are what drives Puss in Boots. Puss is certainly a wide appeal sort, combining family-friendly "harmless" ferocity with his charming feline antics and an undeniable cuteness. A smooth talker and a Zorro-lite by trade with a knack for getting into and out of trouble, a reputation as a lady's man, and every bit the adventure hero his style suggests, the character is truly special and at home dueling with a foe or drinking milk, flashing his claws or getting what he wants with his wide-eyed kitty cat charm. Humpty Dumpty's character arc doesn't, at first, seem to lend itself all that well to the rotund shape that looks like an advanced version of the old "Sheldon" character from "U.S. Acres;" it's clear the filmmakers were aiming for something out of the ordinary, unassuming, unexpected to take on what is the most complex part in the movie, and for as odd as the character looks they've largely succeeded. Galifianakis' voice fits the character very well, though he sometimes sound a bit like Seth Rogen. The Jack and Jill characters are the biggest surprise, appearing not as children but rather a cross between adult humans and ogres (to keep on with the Shrek connections) who aren't remarkably developed but who at least appear menacing on the surface and somewhat goofy and funny behind the scenes as they're just as concerned about starting a family and caring for their pigs as they are battling Puss and keeping a firm grasp on the magic seeds. The hybrid Bond Girl/Batman Kitty Softpaws is something of a weak point, though, a fair character but not enjoying the purpose of a Humpty or the memorable cuteness of a Puss. The background characters share that same peasant "torch and pitchfork" rough and tumble look to them which, along with the movie's general design and feel, does help cement this as an extension of the Shrek universe rather than merely a standalone sideshow.
Though strongly-realized the characters may be, Puss in Boots stumbles through some slow stretches, unimaginative action, and flat humor. The jokes are best when in direct reference to the feline world; they're hit-or-miss, at best, elsewhere. The action is kinetic but largely replaceable, nothing audiences haven't seen before, even if the film does work in the whole beanstalk thing, Puss in Boots' representation thereof probably the best on-screen adaptation of that entity yet. The major plot twist comes as no surprise and is in fact absolutely predictable once the characters' histories are established, and indeed the entire plot arc is largely linear and by-the-book, the picture obviously counting on the characters, humor, and animation to sell the story rather than offer any sort of meaningful themes. Nevertheless, that absence of originality need be weighed against the fact that a movie like Puss in Boots is meant to be an entertaining vehicle for a particular audience. It will definitely entertain the kids, earn a few laughs from parents, and find some favor with cat people, but it lacks the subtle adult wit of Shrek or the universality of the average Pixar film. It's still a solid movie from start to finish, but chances are many will be left wanting a little bit more.
Puss in Boots Blu-ray, Video Quality
Did anyone expect Puss in Boots to not look fantastic? DreamWorks's 1080p Blu-ray transfer is indeed spectacular, and only a few minor bouts of insignificant banding away from visual perfection (not enough to really warrant a markdown, however). Viewers will be astonished with the level of fine detail evident in every shot. Individual strands of fur on Puss' or other feline bodies, the leathery texture of his hat, the scuffed and worn woods seen all over town, and even the delicate texture of Humpty's eggshell exterior are reproduced with much attention to detail. The image is absolutely razor-sharp with every square inch of the screen revealing the thorough and complex details the film has to offer. The color palette is equally spectacular. Whether in low-light taverns or up amongst the clouds with the giant green beanstalk in the background, DreamWorks' 1080p image offers a balanced and brilliant palette that paints Puss' orange fur, Humpty's eggshell body, earthen roads and structures, blue skies, glowing green beans, and anything and everything else in the movie with remarkable precision. Shadow detail is superb as well, and aside from that banding, there is no sign of unwanted eyesores. This Blu-ray is truly a testament to both the advances in digital filmmaking and the quality of a top-shelf 1080p image.
Puss in Boots Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Puss in Boots purrs up a storm with a high quality Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack. DreamWorks' audio presentation offers rich, lively music that plays with fantastic spacing, seamless clarity, and an immersive surround element. The track rarely fails to dazzle in all areas, music being only one. Natural ambience is precise and aids greatly in pulling the audience into the adventure. Whether chatter at a pub, light echoing, reverberating footsteps, crickets, or other subtle elements, this track proves capable of placing everything precisely and with attention to detail to match exactly the on- and off-screen action alike. Cat meows, purrs, and hisses are done very well and authentically. Action scenes are wondrously spaced and absolutely immersive, the track making fine use of the entire stage. Cannon fire, crumbling rocks, and other chaotic elements are handled crisply and with great clarity. The only downside is that bass lacks a heavier punch in a few instances, failing to provide that last little bit of oomph to truly make the effects more pronounced and dangerous. Otherwise, the track is immensely impressive, rounded out by clear and accurate dialogue.
Puss in Boots Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Puss in Boots contains numerous extras, including a handful of fun Blu-ray exclusives and plenty of interactive supplements.
Puss in Boots Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Puss in Boots is a solid but slightly disappointing Shrek spinoff. The animation rocks and the characters are largely excellent, but the storyline is a bit thin and the jokes are at their best when playing on cat-isms, proving hit-or-miss otherwise. Still, it's a good, relatively clean, fun ride that should entertain the target audience and at least keep mom and dad halfway interested. This is best enjoyed as raw eye candy above all else; check out Shrek Forever After for a far more well-rounded fairy tale-gone-haywire animated adventure and for a movie that doesn't merely lump all its best moments into the trailer. DreamWorks' Blu-ray release of Puss in Boots features fantastic video and audio to go along with a good number of extras. Recommended.
Puss in Boots: Other Editions
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Puss in Boots Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Puss in Boots - February 17, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of the well-received Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots. The animated feline swashbuckler pounces on store shelves February 24th.
• Puss in Boots Blu-ray (Updated) - January 20, 2012
Next month, Paramount Home Entertainment and Dreamworks will bring Puss in Boots to Blu-ray. This Shrek spin-off focuses on feline rogue Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas, The Skin I Live In) as he plans a daring heist to steal magic beans from Jack and Jill (Billy ...
• $5 Off Coupon for Puss in Boots (Updated) - December 30, 2011
Amazon is offering a special $5 off coupon for Puss in Boots. This promotional discount applies to the two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack as well as the three- disc 3D Blu-ray edition; the coupon is available until January 15th, 2012.
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