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‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ Is A Charming And Exciting Return Of A Most Beloved Animated Character – Review

It’s been eleven years since the last time Puss in Boots pounced his way across the screen, creating uncertainty regarding his return. Thankfully, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is incredibly fun, profoundly emotional, and a fantastic animated blockbuster. DreamWorks implements a style that hasn’t been seen in any of their other productions, breathing new life into the Shrek franchise. The movie starts with fast-paced action and almost doesn’t stop throughout its whole runtime, providing an explosive ride for all ages to enjoy.

Years after the events of the first movie (and all of the Shrek installments), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) finds himself in a complicated situation when a doctor helps him come to the realization, through a hilarious montage, that he has died eight times already, leaving him with a single life in the tank. Puss enters an existential crisis until he finds out a legendary wishing star that crashed in the Dark Forest is real, and it has the ability to grant a single wish to the brave explorer who finds it.

Puss in Boots
(Courtesy of DreamWorks)

His troubles are far from over, given how he is constantly followed by the haunting bounty hunter, the Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura). The Wolf is as menacing as villains in children’s movies can be, always surrounded by scary imagery and creepily whistling a song to remind Puss of his presence during the whole story. Combined with Moura’s commanding voice acting, these theatrics consolidate the Wolf as one of the most formidable adversaries the studio has produced.

The titular hero still shines with his unmistakable charisma, as Banderas still brings a lot of fun to the table playing the character that debuted in Shrek 2 (back in 2004). Puss has grown a lot since his last appearance, struggling with coming to terms with his mortality in this movie and changing his perspective into that of a hero who must be ready to fly off into the sunset, though he is not prepared for that yet. Gone are the days when the hero jumped into an abyss with nothing but his boots and sword, forced to go through a watered-down version of a mid-life crisis.

(Courtesy of DreamWorks)

Salma Hayek comes back as Kitty Softpaws, Puss’ on-and-off-again lover, rival and fellow cat burglar. Softpaws is a brilliant co-lead for the story, guiding Puss through his reflection upon his mistakes and life choices. Hayek is clearly having fun in the role, providing the animated cat with a confident and emotive delivery. Her energy compliments Banderas’ gracefully, making the adventurer duo a force to be reckoned with by characters such as Goldie Locks (Florence Pugh) and “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney).

Before Joel Crawford was announced as the director for The Last Wish, Into The Spider-Verse helmer Bob Persichetti was attached to the project. Some concepts from that version of the movie remained, given how the energetic tone matches that of the 2018 hit. The frenetic flow of the second Puss in Boots installment is also reminiscent of a comic book mixed with bright watercolour paintings. The change of pace is welcome, given previous DreamWorks releases, which utilized a more standardized 3D animation style in recent years. 

Fast-paced action dictates the movie’s pace, with big action sequences taking place quickly, one after the other, without becoming unbearable and allowing the story to hit its emotional beats forcefully. The characters are introduced into the quest for the last wish as you get to know them along the journey instead of constant exposition dumps or a collection of flashbacks. Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow’s screenplay goes straight to the point, finding creative ways to display the characters’ motivations in a comfortably organic fashion.

(Courtesy of DreamWorks)

The story’s theme is the search for the meaning of life. While existential dread isn’t precisely what a Puss in Boots movie might be expected to deliver, the exploration of life and its purpose through the eyes of the protagonist is sincerely beautiful. Not only Puss but most of the characters come to face their hopes and dreams and why they might not be what they actually need to feel complete. Above the car chases and sword fights, this movie’s most prominent adventure is learning to appreciate what life throws at us and do our best with what we’re given in our brief time on this planet.

With fantastically charismatic voice acting, mesmerizing animation and an engaging script, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish makes a statement as a powerful entry into DreamWorks’ catalogue. It successfully does what it sets out to do. Explosive action, the franchise’s trademark humour and a thrilling adventure are the highlights of Joel Crawford’s third feature. With Puss’ many lives at stake, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish doesn’t waste them.

Rating: 10/10

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish opens in US theatres on December 21.

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