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Puss in Boots (3D Blu-ray Review)

23 Feb, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 2/24/12
Box Office $149.07 million
$29.99 DVD, $34.98 two-DVD set, $39.99 Blu-ray, $54.99 3D Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for some adventure action and mild rude humor.
Voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris.

Four films and several TV specials may have exhausted the effectiveness of stories featuring lovable ogre Shrek, but its fairy-tale setting leaves plenty of room for a spinoff. And the franchise’s take on the Puss in Boots character, as voiced by Antonio Banderas, is a great place to start.

Puss in Boots gives the title character an origin story that depicts him as a Zorro-esque hero — a rogue bandit roaming a vaguely European desert like the antihero of a spaghetti Western. The story works within the fairy-tale structure of the “Shrek” movies but gives Puss a world that feels wholly his own.

The plot finds Puss against Jack and Jill (ingeniously depicted as a pair of Bonnie and Clyde-type outlaws) in a quest for the magic beans of “Jack and the Beanstalk” fame. Puss is recruited for the scheme by Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), with whom he shares a troubled past, but is enticed by the lure of Kitty Softpaws, voiced by Salma Hayek. They aim to grow the beanstalk, journey to the Giant’s castle and steal the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The story is well crafted to set up some inventive action sequences that make good use of the 3D effects. The CG-animated cinematography is filled with camera sweeps across landscapes that in 3D almost feel like model miniatures. Also in 3D is the bonus follow-up short film The Three Diablos, in which Puss takes three troublesome but adorably cute kittens under his tutelage.

Many of the extras are interactive programs designed for younger viewers. One lets kids assemble a fairy tale using characters and situations from the movie. Another plays songs using a cat at a piano, while a third presents character profiles in the form of a pop-up storybook. Those interested in learning Puss and Kitty’s dance moves can check out the “Glitter Box Dance Off” featurette.

An “Animator’s Corner” commentary details the making of the film using picture-in-picture video. There’s also a less-intensive pop-up trivia track. Two separate featurettes focus on the voices in the film and how the story evolved.

Finally, the Blu-ray includes a handful of storyboards for deleted sequences, the most significant of which is the original ending, which featured not a giant goose but the actual Giant attacking the town, probably meant to tie into Puss’ reputation as an ogre killer from his first appearance in Shrek 2.

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