Puss in Boots, a spin-off of the popular Shrek franchise, has been a film that’s been in development for quite some time. Originally announced back in 2004 as a direct-to-video release, it was eventually decided to turn the film into a theatrical feature in 2006. With the popularity of the Shrek films at the time, it’s no wonder such a change would be made, and now, after four of those films, Puss finally has an adventure of his very own.
The film, which acts as a backstory for Puss (Voice of Antonio Banderas), tells of his life before he met Shrek. He was notorious as a thief and, supposedly, as a womanizer. When he hears rumors of Jack (Voice of Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Voice of Amy Sedaris) having found the legendary magic beans, he decides to go after them himself. However, another thief, Kitty Softpaws (Voice of Salma Hayek), shows up to steal them as well. After the botched heist, she leads him to an old acquaintance of his, Humpty Dumpty (Voice of Zach Galifianakis), who fills Puss in on a plan to fulfill his childhood dream of planting the beans, climbing the beanstalk, and becoming rich from the golden eggs of the golden goose.
The story here is interesting because Puss has always been one of the more mysterious characters of the Shrek films ever since his introduction in Shrek 2. He comes out of nowhere as a hired assassin, eventually becoming good friends with the main characters, but now we get to see where he came from and how he became the swashbuckling cat we know and love.
Aside from the main plot, we are taken all the way back to when Puss was just a kitten who finds himself in a basket at the door of an orphanage in the small town of San Ricardo. It is here where he originally met Humpty Dumpty and began to share in his dream of the golden eggs, but due to some trouble-making and a betrayal by Humpty, Puss’s life as a notorious outlaw began, causing him to leave his home and go on the run.
The animation is the same professional level as their previous releases and features a lot of beautiful imagery. The characters and landscapes are in bright, vibrant colors that really help bring everything to life. Back when the film was in theaters, it was offered in both 2D and 3D. Now the choice is being offered yet again on Blu-Ray, and once again, I must suggest that you stick with the 2D. As per usual, it baffles me why anyone would pay extra to watch a dimmer version of any movie, particularly when it tends to ruin the hard work of the animators and production designers.
We also get top-notch voice work from the entire cast including Antonio Banderas, who gives his usual suave personality to Puss. Salma Hayek provides the voice of Kitty Softpaws and does a great job of integrating mystery and passion into the role. This, of course, is not the first time these two have worked together, having appeared together in four other films. The final lead is voiced by Zach Galifianakis, known for his work in The Hangover and its sequel. He too adds a good touch of mystery to his character and does well with the changes his character has to go through as the plot develops.
This film is notably different from its original franchise in that there aren’t really any pop culture references that the Shrek films became infamous for. There is some attempt made to split the level of humor, where some jokes will be for adults while others will be for the kids, but not nearly as much as usual. You may recall in the first Shrek film how some jokes were made about one of the characters privates. That’s basically the extent of the adult humor here. That being said, some of it is funny, as are some of the jokes that are meant for all ages.
Overall, Puss in Boots is light, breezy family entertainment that runs a very short 80 minutes. While the Shrek films may finally be over, and not a moment too soon as they were starting to decline in quality with Shrek Forever After, perhaps Puss in Boots will spark a new series of adventures that would eventually lead up to where he meets his future friends. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing another outing of this feisty feline.
The film is presented in a gorgeous 1080p high definition, widescreen transfer that makes for a stunning picture. I’ve already mentioned the bright, vibrant colors, but this video quality really allows them to come out and show what a great job the animators did. The audio is crystal clear, making for a very pleasant viewing experience with every aspect of the audio coming through quite lucidly.
As for special features, here’s what’s included:
- A DreamWorks Fairytale
- Puss’ Paw-Pouncing Challenge
- The Animators’ Corner
- Purr-fect Pairing: The Voices Behind the Legend
- Deleted Scenes
- Kitten to Cat: The Progression of Puss in Boots
- Glitter Box Dance Off!
- Klepto Kitty
- Fairytale Pop-Up Book
At first glance, this may seem like a lot of special features, but unfortunately, most of them are merely games and activities for kids. The only three that are really worth paying any attention to are the “Purr-fect Pairing” and “Kitten to Cat” featurettes as well as the deleted scenes.
In the “Purr-fect Pairing” featurette, we are given a behind the scenes look at the voice actors recording their roles as well as interviews. It’s interesting to watch how the different actors go about the process. Banderas puts quite a lot of zeal into his role, even though he’s just recording dialogue, while Galifianakis merely stands there, concentrating on his lines. The Cat to Kitten” featurette charts some of the process of bringing the film to life by including interviews with the creative teams behind Shrek 2 and Puss in Boots. It gives a very superficial overview of certain aspects, but overall is not particularly informative.
As for the deleted scenes, three are included, all of which were cut due to changes in the story during the development process. The first two aren’t really that noteworthy, but the third is intriguing as it offers a look at where the story would have originally gone. This scene features Puss fighting an actual giant while trying to save his hometown, which was obviously changed for the final film. All three of these scenes were originally planned, but apparently never actually animated, so they are instead brought to life through storyboards, which offers another intriguing look behind the scenes at the process of its making.
These are decent special features, but I would have liked to see more, particularly featurettes that deeply explored the making of the film and the different planning stages it went through. It was in production for a long time, so there’s bound to be stories of the different stages it went through throughout its beginnings in 2004. A lot of work goes into a film like this, including various stages of animation, from storyboards to finishing touches. It would have been great to see that process as well.
Puss in Boots is a delightful film, and while the special features on the Blu-Ray aren’t particularly great, the film provides a good amount of entertainment on its own. It’s got beautiful animation, wonderful voice actors, and some good laughs along the way. If you’ve enjoyed Puss as a supporting character, you’ll definitely enjoy him in his very own film.
Puss in Boots is light, fun and breezy family entertainment that features some top notch voice work from everyone involved.