As Puss in Boots sets Box Office records in the US, we were very keen to watch a special preview screened by Paramount Pictures at the BFI Southbank on Sunday afternoon, to judge if the film lives up to the surrounding hype, and we weren’t disappointed.
It’s unusual for a spin-off character to be more popular than the parent franchise, but Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots is arguably more charming and charismatic than Mike Myers’ incredibly successful Shrek series, which got progressively less entertaining on each release.
But it was Shrek who established Dreamworks as a big player in the CG animation business, and reworking classic fairy tales with a modern twist has come up trumps for SKG again. The witty script uses well known characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Jack 'n' Jill, but unusually it’s the North American accents that are the villains of the story, with the Latin accents being the heroes.
The budget of $130 million has been well spent on producing a beautiful environment for the story to play out, the fantastic lighting and scenery capture the fairy tale atmosphere and set the scene for the animators to create a rip roaring adventure, as the cats fly about with feline fury.
Indeed these furry furies are at their best during the 'Dance Fight' scene busting out the Litter Box and the Scoot move, where Puss extends his hind legs in front and drags himself forward. The audience lapped up the laughs like Puss lapped up his milk, as the smart talking cats reverted to silly kitties chasing a light across the floor, and when Puss employs his infamous ‘big eyes’ trick.
The fur was beautifully rendered as each hair gently swayed by the breeze and you could well imagine stroking the soft fluffy coats. Of course the story is not challenging, after all this is primarily a children’s film. I would have chuckled more if a few Cat Video references had been parodied maybe Ninja cat for example, but saying that ‘Oooooooooh cat’ got a laugh every time, as he put his paw to his mouth and made a Kenneth Williams-esque ‘Ooooooooh!’ in an entertaining Carry On style. Silly but fun.
The 3D stereoscopic work was intelligently applied and added to the adventurous story, although some red hazy artifacts were occasionally disrupting the richly coloured and finely detailed textures, which was a shame. This may have been due to the screen, glasses or projection, but it’s a detail theatres need to get right to maximise the 3D viewing experience, and not detract from it.
Overall I’m sure Puss in Boots will be a runaway success when it receives its full UK release on Friday the 9th of December, probably so successful it won’t be long before a Puss in Boots 2 is released - and we generally know what happens to sequels, don’t we Shrek?