Sunday, February 26, 2012

Movie Review: Puss in Boots

Please note this is NOT the new Dreamworks movie, rather an ... interesting version from Canal + (among others). The full title is "The True Story of Puss'n Boots."

Oh dear, where to begin?

First, I need to let you know we found this on Netflix and watched it at home in our Bedroom Drive-In, so my experience was very relaxed. If I'd have paid rental or movie ticket money to see this, I would have been much more annoyed with it.

Next, the movie is a European production, which makes for a cultural shift and a different movie experience. Some people might find it interesting, but from the online reviews I've read, most found it to be a combination of bad imitation US animation and creepiness.

It is a mish-mash of genres, IMO. The animation is gorgeous in many places, and this production pulled from a richer background of architecture and art history to come up with a small, unique style and kingdom. The action pacing reminds me of old-fashioned pantomimes, where things happen, but clumsily, and the audience is not expecting a lot of logic. I found myself looking at the Art Nouveau doorways and caught up in the rich palettes, which helped me overlook some of the more annoying (and yes, slightly creepy) characters.

When pulled away from the sets and design, I was confused. Were they trying to imitate Shrek? If so, why did the cat sport a pirate bandana and medallion that was ripped off from Jack Sparrow? And what was the cat doing with William Shatner's voice?

I thought they did a bad job of trying to tell a classic fairy tale with a modern twist. In particular, the Royal Family was incredibly hard to watch. I didn't like any of them. I could not get my head around Ma and Pa Kettle as serious Royalty, who had a daughter of colour (stuck in the 1980s in spandex) who sang in disguise at the inn where everyone knew her identity except the Miller's son, who's in love with her -- what's up with that?). And the Miller's son was not engaging. If anything, he looked half asleep the whole time.

They most lively characters were the Chamberlin (who is really creepy, especially if you don't like evil clowns), the Cat (William Shatner seems to enjoy the heck out of this role and almost carries the movie with his joie de vivre, at times), and the Ogre (who does this weird transformation into Bill Nighy's Davy Jones of the second Pirates' movie).

There are many surreal moments, such as a monkey suddenly appearing and becoming a quasi main character. His weirdest scenes include playing what looks like a Pez organ to calm the Ogre from hulking out into a giant, murderous squid (which pretty much goes contrary to everything I've ever heard about an ogre). I cannot describe the music paired with these scenes, it its bizarre in the extreme. I am sure Dali would have been intrigued. The Ogre's voice, by the way, is a really good imitation of Robby Benson's voice for the Beast.

Our 9 and 7 year olds stayed through the movie, although James (7), had extreme difficulties in sitting still and concentrating after the first 15 minutes. I asked James just now if he liked the movie and he said "yeah." When asked which part he liked best, he said, "The windmill." I rest my case.

My husband and I just had to watch it, it was just that strong a mix of bad with splashes of good. Most reviews give it almost 2 stars, and I agree.

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