Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022) – Review
(3 / 4)
Puss in Boots returns to the silver screen for the first time in over a decade, with darker themes and impressive animation. The Last Wish effectively balances a large ensemble of characters in a tight, 102 minute runtime. Younger and older audiences alike will sincerely enjoy this Shrek spinoff’s adult-friendly humour.
Set after the events of the Shrek films and the previous Puss in Boots, our titular hero Puss (Antonio Banderas) roams the lands defending the common folk against the tyranny of rich governors and powerful monsters. After losing eight of his nine cat lives, Puss is forced to face the prospect of retiring from heroism, for his own survival.
Puss must unite with spurned lover Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and aspiring therapy dog Perrito (Harvey Guillén) to find the Wishing Star and restore his nine lives. In doing so, they must evade mob boss “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney), Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears Crime Family, as well as the mysterious, foreboding Wolf (Wagner Moura).
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish immediately strikes the audience with its beautifully stylized animation. The film blends 2D and 3D elements similarly to Sony’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. However, rather than using that comic-book aesthetic, Puss in Boots appears like a fairy tale painting has sprung to life.
DreamWorks previous 3D works had more static, rigid animation, while The Last Wish features fluid movements with characters that stretch and deform. This new style has the same lively spirit as DreamWorks’ classic 2D features, such as The Prince of Egypt, Road to El Dorado, and Sinbad.
The film further emphasizes motion by varying the frame rate at which each character moves. In action scenes, fast characters animate on every single frame, while slow characters move only on every other frame. Overall, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish benefits from this expressive blend of 2D and 3D animation techniques.
While screentime is balanced well enough across the ensemble, some characters are simply underbaked. Goldilocks and the Three Bears never have a shared wish for the Star, only a secret one Goldilocks is hiding. Perrito is a grating side character whose presence reeks of a failed attempt to copy Donkey’s dynamic with Shrek.
On the other hand, “Big” Jack Horner is a hilariously sociopathic nursery rhyme protagonist. His mad lust for power and lack of redeeming traits is greatly amusing for audiences to root against. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Wolf is uniquely threatening to our heroes in a way no other Shrek antagonist has ever been.
The majority of the comedic weight lies on Antonio Banderas’ performance as Puss in Boots. With this film, he is arguably more iconic as Puss than he ever was as Zorro. Something about mixing an adorable cat with swordplay and machismo simply never stops being funny.
Heitor Pereira’s score is delightfully catchy, and your young kids will never stop playing Puss’ opening number in your car. It’s best to accept that fact of life rather than fight it.
While Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has a fairly simplistic plot, it is executed well. The method in which Puss ultimately defeats the villain is unique and resonates with the film’s themes of mortality. Nothing in this film steps outside a PG rating, but DreamWorks clearly respects the young audience’s ability to handle darker themes, when dealt in lighter doses.
The Last Wish is flush with comedy, creatively animated, and has enough for all ages to sincerely enjoy. This is a great movie to see with your whole family going into the new year.