Posts Tagged ‘Puss in Boots’

Tops ‘n Tails of 2011

January 31, 2012

OK, so I haven’t been living up to the ACTIVE in my blog’s name, and I apologise profusely. It was a very busy silly season… Here then, without any further ado (because goodness knows there’s been a lot of ado already…), my critical glance over the past year’s 3-D releases:

The worst 3-D release of 2011:

Jock of the Bushveld – without a doubt.  Some folk in the local film industry complained that the film struggled against low budgets, and had overworked staff doubling up their duties, etc, etc. The bottom line is: if you can’t compete with the Dreamworks of this world, then don’t put yourself in the same arena. Make an interesting short film, or another style of film that isn’t as labour-intensive. Yes, we know that the big American animated features utilise cheap labour in the East. Well, do the same, then, but don’t turn out something of such low quality and punt it as a “South African first”, because it isn’t a “South African first” of which to be terribly proud…

Fourth, Third and Second Best Movies of 2011:

In Fourth Place comes the Sony Pictures/Aardman co-production, Arthur Christmas. A neat, funny, adventurous and sometimes quite moving tale of family politics, it finally clarifies just how Santa manages to deliver quite so many prezzies in one night!

In Third Place, the Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots. I really hadn’t been looking forward to this, but its satirical take on the western genre and Hispanic melodrama was consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious.

It was a close call between this one and the movie with which I eventually crowned the list. That said, Second Place goes to Rio. A domesticated male parrot meets – and falls beak-over-tail for – a female parrot from the wilds of Brazil. They’re both targeted by cruel animal-smugglers, but after much colour, adventure and mayhem, all ends happily.

And the 3-D Movie of The Year for 2011…

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

We waited a long time for this Spielberg motion-capture epic, and hardcore Tintin fans were worried that the essence of our Belgian boy-hero would be lost in a big Hollywood budget. I’m happy to say that the director and his creative team have shown nothing but the highest respect for the source material (that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of so many of our childhoods).

I had worried about the use of motion-capture, as, in films such as Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol, this nascent technology made most of the protagonists look cross-eyed. This time around, however, the eyes work just fine, and make for meaningful interaction between the characters. Going by the closing credits, it looks as if teams of people were kept busy with that task alone; keeping the characters’ eyes realistic.

That concern having been tucked away, I could concentrate on enjoying the film, which lovingly and faithfully resurrects all those colourful folks one remembers from the Tintin comics. The extrapolation from creator Hergé’s two-dimensional cartoons to three-dimensional computer images is largely successful, although, curiously, Tintin himself is the one who takes the most getting-used-to, as his computer-animated manifestation is the furthest from the books, I thought. But it’s no biggie, and I soon settled in to it… Climb in and enjoy the short-tempered, booze-addled Captain Haddock, the twittish Thompson twins, Haddock’s butler, and assorted villains – and let’s not forget the formidable opera diva,  Bianca Castafiore! They’re all there, as we’ve treasured them in the vaults of childhood memory, and their exploits are packed with action and derring-do (to the degree that I’d suggest the film might be too frightening for those under schoolgoing age – who shouldn’t be seeing 3-D movies anyway, for the sake of their ocular health). The gun-play is quite realistic, which startled me at first, but let’s not quibble:

Spielberg’s Tintin was everything I’d hoped it might be, right from the opening title sequence which pays a three-dimensional homage to the story’s two-dimensional comic-book origins by expanding the 2-D planes (as had been done in Captain America’s closing title sequences, if memory serves…). Now; roll on the sequel!


Puss in Boots 3-D : Mee-YOW!!!

December 2, 2011

An Active3D Movie Review

Rating (out of 5 stars): *****

Got a feline you're foolin'... Puss in Boots steps out from Shrek's shadow and struts out in his own comedy.

We’ve been seeing the trailers for months, and I have to tell you that I was left unimpressed and uninspired. This promised to be little more than a self-congratulatory feast of in-jokes and knowing smirks. And, yes; a needless spinoff, riding on the popularity of the Shrek franchise.

And then I saw the press screening. And was utterly blown away.

With this tongue-in-cheek homage to the western genre, crammed with sly jabs at its conventions and clichés, the team at Dreamworks have pulled out all the creative stops. The environments in which we find ourselves are colourful, inviting and utterly immersive. This is 3-D animation at its finest, inviting us back into the story books of our childhood; no matter our ages.

And the gags – both visual and verbal – are laugh-out-loud hilarious; almost ribald at times, though nothing to offend. The story centres around the once-solid friendship between Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) and Humpty Dumpty (vocalised by Zach Galifianakis). They had grown up as childhood friends, it appears, and, although they both appeared set to become petty crooks, Puss ultimately chose the moral high ground, leaving Humpty to turn into… well, a rotten egg. As if this backstory on a famous Mother Goose character wasn’t enough, we’re also exposed to the truth behind Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), who, it appears, were the nursery rhyme equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde. Just tougher and nastier.

With all the shameless ferocity of a gatling gun, this madcap holiday attraction unloads a relentless barrage of laughs, adventure, and mock melodrama. Furry good indeed!