Everyone’s favourite boot-wearing cat returns for a colourful and action-packed sequel in Puss In Boots: The Last Wish – here’s our review.
Since he made his debut in 2004’s Shrek II, Antonio Banderas’ take on Puss in Boots has easily become one of the most memorable animated characters in cinema. His oversized hat and boots, his bold and adventurous ways and the charisma Banderas brings to the role won the swashbuckling feline his own movie in 2011, and The Last Wish is an extremely bold sequel.
Most noticeably, Dreamworks have taken a brave leap away from the textured, realistic 3D animation of the Shrek films and Puss In Boots – instead taking a leaf out of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’s book, and to truly excellent results. Director Joel Crawford, who also helmed 2020’s The Croods: A New Age, has made something really quite special.
The Last Wish is less concerned with realism or even detail than it is with the expressiveness and dynamism of its animation, as well as how vivid everything is. The animation style heightens the fairytale world Puss resides in – it’s extremely colourful and the action scenes are well choreographed, over the top and dynamic. There are even some comic-style lines drawn around the characters to enhance their movements.
On top of being a good-looking film, the premise is one that’s fun but also really quite moving. Everyone knows that cats have nine lives, and after a daring and exciting opening sequence he discovers he’s burned through eight of them. Next time he dies will be the last. Fearful of his mortality, Puss seeks a mundane life that will keep him safe, but is pursued by a Wolf bounty hunter (Wagner Moura) who’d rather take him in dead than alive.
Puss’ foray into the life of an ordinary cat becomes a rather amusing interlude. While the other animals behave as you’d expect, Puss is attempting to cook his breakfast on the stove and definitely doesn’t get on with the idea of using a litter tray.
Then he hears about the last wish – a magical wishing star that resides in the heart of an enchanted woodland. The first person who finds it can wish for whatever they want, and of course Puss wants all of his lives back. But he’s not the only one after it – Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the three bears (wonderfully voiced by Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo) also seek it. So does the malevolent Jack Horner (John Mulaney), a collector of magical items who wants to wield all the magic in the fairytale world.
Like the previous Shrek films and spin-offs, The Last Wish innovatively presents us with familiar fairytale characters that play unexpected roles. One would never think of Goldilocks as head of a crime family, but it works surprisingly well.
As Puss pursues the last wish he befriends Perrito, an aspiring therapy dog voiced by Harvey Guillen. He’s an endearingly naive character that provides a lot of the comic relief. He’s also remarkably potty mouthed in a way that’s both suitable for a young audience and great fun for the adults. He also runs into Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who accompanied him on his previous adventure, and it’s clear the two of them didn’t part on good terms.
With so many characters all after the same thing it sometimes feels that The Last Wish is attempting to do a little bit too much. The Wolf, easily the most memorable and sinister adversary of the movie, is used sparingly, while Jack Horner gets much more screen time. Despite this, the only thing really interesting about Jack is his arsenal of magical tools and weapons – not the character himself.
It feels almost as though the film isn’t big enough for the both of them, and with the Wolf being a much more effective villain Jack’s presence feels a little redundant by the end. It also leads to the movie having two separate resolutions for the two characters – one that plays out in a really interesting way and another that’s incredibly generic.
In many ways The Last Wish is an animated film that doesn’t break the mould. It revolves around the quest to find a MacGuffin and several of the characters arcs are predictable. But it also balances the familiar narrative with its vivid and captivating animation, fun characters and more sombre central themes.
Having the main message of The Last Wish be accepting mortality may seem dark for a family film, but with the colourful animation, frenetic action sequences and jokes it blends together very well to make something that’s not too dark, not too light, but just right.
Puss In Boots: The Last Wish is in cinemas now…
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