A paw-sitivley purrfect film: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’
With DreamWorks’ latest romp into the highly successful Shrek franchise came a movie that surely almost no one was expecting. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a sequel that seemingly came out of nowhere, coming more than 11 years after the original “Puss in Boots,” which in and of itself is a rather unremarkable movie. So I, as well as many others, were under the assumption that this movie would be nothing more than a mediocre cash grab, or an attempt to garner interest in the potentially soon to be released “Shrek 5.” So when reviews for “The Last Wish” started coming back overwhelmingly positive, my interest was piqued. Now having seen the film I can say with confidence that this film is easily my favorite animated movie of 2022.
One of the first things that stands out about this movie is just how eye-catching the animation is. Right away, it is clear that inspiration is taken from the 2018 film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which was groundbreaking at the time for its unique animation. The film features techniques like two-dimensional effects over three-dimensional models, as well as alternating frame rates to make characters and scenes pop. While both films shares similarities, it never felt like “Puss in Boots” was copying the work of “Into the Spider-Verse” because it still had its own style and identity. The characters and environments are adorned with vibrant, storybook-esqe colors and designs, presenting a look that stands out not only from the other movies in the franchise, but from DreamWorks’ entire catalog. And nowhere is this style more apparent than in the movie’s action sequences. By utilizing 2D visual effects through decreasing the frame rate from 24 frames per second to only 12 frames per second during high intensity fights, these scenes become visually distinct and stunning, with impressive choreography and flair. Every move, from the characters to the background paintings, feel exhilarating to watch almost as if it is jumping right off of the page of a comic book.
Aside from the animation, one of the strongest qualities of this movie comes from just how entertaining and engaging each of the characters are, as well as their motivations and relationships with other characters. Vocal performances from Antonio Banderas, Florence Pugh, John Mulaney, and a slew of other talented actors breathe so much life into the characters, making them even more alluring. Our main hero, Puss in Boots, must come to terms with his mortality as he realizes that he is on the last of his nine lives. His fear and anxiety about death — as well as how he deals with it throughout the course of the film — feels not only genuine, but also creates a captivating character as he attempts to maintain his “fearless hero” persona. He and the other main characters are used to convey a subtle yet thought-provoking message about anxiety, fear, and trust. However, while the heroes serve as great protagonists for the movie, the antagonists are, in my opinion, some of the best DreamWorks has ever seen.
This film has not one, not two, but three different parties of villains fighting against the heroes. The first is Goldilocks and the Three Bears, who form a crime family and hunt down the same thing that both the heroes and other villains are after: the wishing star, which can grant any one person a wish. The family serves as not only a source of comedy throughout the film through their interactions with each other, but also offer much in the way of sincere, heartfelt moments. The second party of villains is based on the nursery rhyme, “Little Jack Horner,” where Jack Horner himself is the owner of a pie corporation, and is also after the wishing star. Jack Horner is so sadistically evil and heartless to the point where it’s comical; he is truly one of the most entertaining parts of the movie, as he carelessly commits murder and acts of animal cruelty, but poses a real threat for the heroes. The last villain is the one that stands out to me the most; when Puss realizes that he has only one life left, the manifestation of death appears in the form of a wolf. While the other villains present as more lighthearted and comically evil, Death is a menacing, scary, and serious antagonist who literally had me jump out of my seat while watching. It is the character of Death who gets the plot moving in the first place and is responsible for much of Puss in Boots’ character development throughout the film. Animation is often touted as “for kids,” and while I think this is definitely a movie that kids can enjoy, characters like Death show that they are not the only target demographic. Both from a visual and character standpoint, his final fight with Puss in Boots offers a scene that I think is worthy of a watch from anyone.
As an avid animated movie enjoyer, I would say that it has been a long time since I have had as much fun watching a movie as I did with “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.” If I had to make a complaint about the film, I would say it does take a little while for the adventure to get started, but even that feels a little nitpicky. I was wholeheartedly engaged and impressed during the entire runtime, and I feel that many others will be too. I’m sure by now many have received countless recommendations for this film, but that is for good reason. If you have any interest or just have the free time, and want to watch a fun movie, I cannot recommend it enough. I look forward to seeing what DreamWorks does next, and if it’s anything like this project, then I know I’m in for a good time. 9/10, would definitely watch again.