Finally, we have an IMAX screen here in Bend! No more heading over to Portland for IMAX midnight screenings now that we can get our faces melted from the comfort of our little mountain town. For my first IMAX-ing (in 3-D), I watched the Shrek spin-off Puss In Boots, starring the sounds of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis. I wasn't expecting too much since I thought the last two Shrek movies were so pop culture laden that they were dated about eight minutes after release, but Puss In Boots keeps the references to a minimum and comes out feeling timeless and, at times, almost classic.
The sound system in the Old Mill 16's IMAX auditorium is 12,000 watts of pure auditory adrenalin and, combined with the giant screen and tastefully done 3-D, Puss In Boots was an incredibly immersive experience for me. The story is a mash-up of a few different fairy tales with Puss (the flawless Banderas) on the hunt for magic beans that will allow him to get to the castle in the sky so he can steal the goose that lays golden eggs. He partners with Kitty Softpaws (a seductively smoky Hayek) and his old friend Humpty Dumpty (the indispensable Galifianakis) to do one last heist and then he's done stealing. All the story beats are predictable from a mile off, but the kids will be eating up every word and the world of Puss in Boots is so bizarre and surreal that cooler parents will also be swept along with them.
Even with all the stuff to dig in the film, like the insane visuals and very complex character arcs, there's also a bit of flab to wade through in the middle and the final action beat is kind of anticlimactic. It's hard for Dreamworks to pull off animated films that have the three hallmarks that make Pixar so successful: 1) appeal to kids, 2) appeal to adults and 3) tell a thematically relevant story without any waste or filler. The only film of theirs that has even come close to pulling off the trifecta is How to Train Your Dragon, but even that animated romp pales it comparison to, say, Up, Wall-E or The Incredibles (let alone the Toy Story trilogy). Puss can't stand in the same room as Pixar's finest, but it's nevertheless pure fun.
Puss is an entertaining and often hilarious diversion, even though it might not have been the ideal film for me to experience IMAX for the first time. But it did get me excited to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Dark Knight Rises on this majestic screen and it will get you excited, too... as long as face melting, ear drum bursting, theatrical badassery is your thing.
Puss in Boots
Starring Antonio Banderas,
Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis,
Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris.
Directed by Chris Miller