Review: Puss in Boots 3D (U) ****

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This action-packed prequel to the Shrek phenomenon is an animated paella Western with added jalapenos for extra zing.

Antonio Banderas as the gravelly-voiced charmer hooks up with husky feline Salma Hayek for a fast, frenetic, furry and funny excursion into fairytale frolics that involves battling villainous Humpty Dumpty, who’s a real rotten egg. A proper stinker, in fact.

All the familiar Shrek-esque elements are present against a backdrop of traditional characters that includes Jack and Jill plus a giant bird that is less goose than Goose-zilla. The filmmakers are having fun and that feeling transfers perfectly to the audience.

Director Chris Miller and his gaggle of writers pack Puss in Boots with references to other pictures – from Zorro to Fight Club. Meanwhile Jack and Jill are straight out of a Peckinpah western.

Banderas, like stable-mates Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz, has been a denizen of the Shrek universe for more than a decade now. It’s about time he got his own mini franchise and what’s more it works. The familiarity of the previous adventures is a boon, the animation is a delight and the double-act with Mexican firecracker Hayek provides the perfect combo.

Magic beans, golden eggs, the golden goose and Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Hangover star Zack Galifianakis) provide the building blocks for non-stop entertainment. Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris are Jack and Jill and even cult auteur Guillermo del Toro gets in on the act, voicing a couple of characters.