Last year, Dreamworks' most lucrative animated series, SHREK has finally milked dry with SHREK FOREVER AFTER. However, the franchise doesn't just stop there. So it's easy to see that the studio decides to feature one of the franchise's most popular characters, which is none others than PUSS IN BOOTS. The result is a charming and entertaining adventure that explores the origins of the swashbuckling feline.
Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) is an orphan turned outlaw who suffers from an ugly past. When Puss is a younger kitty, he used to befriend with his fellow orphan Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Both of them spend their time trying their best to acquire the magic beans that would lead them on a journey into the clouds. However, as time goes by, their countless attempt has gradually turns sour. Then came an incident where Puss has suddenly becomes a town hero after saving an old woman from a raging bull. He also earned his prestigious boots as a symbol of honor as well as the citizens' respect. Humpty feels left out, and later betrayed Puss by robbing the citizens of their village and leaving his friend behind to take the blame.
Now Puss is constantly on the run, and he has been anticipating to steal the magic beans from notorious outlaws Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). But his mission is interrupted by sneaky Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who is surprisingly partnered with his old nemesis Humpty. However it doesn't take long before Humpty and Kitty manage to convince the stubborn Puss to join them in a quest to steal Jack and Jill's magic beans. Apparently Humpty is longing to snatch the golden egg high above the cloud but manage to get the golden goose instead -- a result that leads to a deadly consequence.
Blessed with a magnetic central performance by Antonio Banderas, he reprised his iconic Puss role with such charisma and style that watching him is already worth the price of admission alone. Adding the credibility is his sizzling chemistry with Salma Hayek, who excels in a passionate performance as Kitty Softpaws. It's hardly surprising anyway, since they have been collaborated together four times before since DESPERADO (1995). Zach Galifianakis is equally fascinating as the two-faced Humpty Dumpty, while Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris are wickedly fun as Jack and Jill.
PUSS IN BOOTS is also benefited from its sweeping and well-choreographed action set-pieces, particularly in the exciting first half of the movie involving the rooftop chase between Puss and Kitty, the dramatic canyon chase and the beanstalk ride they feel like a rollercoaster. Thanks to a confident direction by Chris Miller, the pace is reasonably fast and playful enough (especially with its gorgeously-rendered animation) to keep one occupied throughout its 90-minute running time. Most of the jokes are spot-on hilarious (courtesy from Banderas' perfect comic timing which includes some of the cat jokes -- e.g. chasing the light and drinking a glass of milk).
Tom Wheeler, Brian Lynch and Will Davies' screenplay is worthwhile without relying too much on pop-culture references that characterized the SHREK franchise. Such move is a refreshing change of pace, although their screenplay would have done better if they don't go overboard with its lengthy third act.
PUSS IN BOOTS may have not reached the creative peaks both SHREK and SHREK 2 had done well before, but this entertaining spinoff remains a worthy addition to the franchise.