Short Ends and Leader

Flat...and Fun: 'Puss in Boots'

Two cats, an egg and a golden goose: a note on 3D aesthetics.

Puss in Boots

Director: Chris Miller
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek
Distributor: Paramount
Rated: PG
Year: 2011
US Release Date: 2011-2-21

Like most Americans, I haven't seen the two European dark-horse nominees for Oscar's Best Animated Feature (they haven't opened where I live), but again like most Americans, I've seen the three Hollywood offerings: Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, which has just come out on DVD and Blu-Ray in multiple packages, including a 3D Blu-Ray. I've seen them only in the flat presentation, and to me Puss in Boots is easily the most pleasant and satisfying of the three. It's cute and clever and short enough not to outwear its welcome. It's genuinely, absurdly surreal in its casual handling of a talking egg, fashionable cats with Spanish accents, a beanstalk, and a rampaging Mother Goose. Rango struck me as intelligent but overlong and a bit self-congratulatory, while the Panda sequel disappointed me by just being loud and frantic.

What I've really noticed, however, is a side benefit of the push to release everything (esp. animated kids' movies) on 3D. For years I've been annoyed by the flashing, edit-happy manner of so-called "action" movies, which disguise their lack of real action and effects with a thousand strobing cuts in our faces. 3D is forcing a re-imagined approach to action sequences and composition in general that relies more on composing lengthier shots in time as well as depth. This gives us time to register what we're seeing, even if it's still very quick. I've been noticing it in such CGI-heavy productions as Captain America and Iron Man 2 and in these animated efforts, and it's one point I appreciate even when watching the movies flat. Just thought I'd mention it.

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