'Puss In Boots: The Last Wish' is genuinely DreamWorks' magnum opus. Directed by storyboard artist-turned-director Joel Crawford ('The Croods: A New Age', 'Trolls Holiday'), the film follows Puss in Boots on the last of his 9 lives and the adventure to obtain the Last Wish to restore them. A movie that understands its characters and audience, 'Puss In Boots' serves as a great big-name franchise continuation and family-friendly action-adventure film.
A sequel arriving an entire decade later, 'Puss In Boots: The Last Wish' brings new laughs and creative visuals while showcasing why the orange cat has become such an iconic character. Antonio Banderas ('Shrek' Franchise) brings a charming voice performance as Puss In Boots, as he fights his way to reach the Last Wish along with his old flame Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek, 'House of Gucci', 'Eternals') and a new cheerful therapy dog friend, Perrito (Harvey Guillen, TV's 'What We Do In The Shadows'). They evade "Big" Jack Horner (John Mulaney, 'Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers'), who wants the wish to keep all the magic in the world for himself and Goldilocks "Goldi" (Florence Pugh, 'Don't Worry Darling') and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo) who seek to get the wish so that Goldi can get a "real" human family. Whilst on their adventures, Puss In Boots is fearfully chased by Death himself - a haunting Wolf (Wagner Moura, TV's 'Narcos') - think the grim reaper but with a twist – as he refuses to confront his selfish nature and lack of appreciation for his lives.
'Puss In Boots' captures many different themes in simple ways for children to understand and mature extensions for adults to enjoy. The writing by Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow is clever and funny without ever crossing the line to being annoying – Perrito is a great comedic relief while providing emotional support as an aspiring therapy dog for the titular characters (Kitty Softpaws tells Puss he does "really need therapy"). The jokes land for different ages, from kid-friendly jokes to adult jokes for contemporary pop culture.
While the modern practice of casting big names for animated movies is very much a slightly concerning hit or miss – see the Internet's reaction to'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' (2023) voicework in the trailers if you don't believe me - 'Puss In Boots' brings stellar voice acting (and singing) to the fray. Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas bring vibrant chemistry to their bilingual characters who switch between Spanish and English, and John Mulaney and Wagner Moura are great as the villains. The most surprising performance for me was Florence Pugh in her voice acting debut using her natural accent as Goldi, a perfect fit that quickly dissolved all my concerns about her casting as a big name.
'Puss In Boots' brings stellar voice acting (and singing) to the fray. Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas bring vibrant chemistry to their bilingual characters who switch between Spanish and English.
And lastly... life can be divided into Before 'Into The SpiderVerse' (BITSV) and After 'Into The SpiderVerse' (AITSV). AITSV has seen many recent projects inspired to take on the same envelope, breaking away from the now-commonplace "Pixar Look" to this fresh stylised animation style, from Netflix's 'Entergalatic' (2022) to DreamWork's 'The Bad Guys' (2022). Coming in hot AITSV, 'Puss In Boots: The Last Wish' (2022) captures a similarly inspired vibrant and gorgeous animation style – every frame is a painting (seriously - you can see the brushstrokes) reminiscent of the storybook world the characters inhabit. With the modern development of animation, 'Puss In Boots: The Last Wish' is 100% a step-up from its predecessor in 2011, with a mixture of 2D and 3D animation and usage of different frame rates to create a dynamic look. We can be extremely, extremely, extremely grateful DreamWorks did not embark on a treacherous journey to create a photorealistic National Geographic art style (See: 'The Lion King', 2019) and flex how many fur hairs Puss In Boots has.
Landing neatly on its feet as one of the best animation, action, and family films of the year, 'Puss In Boots: The Last Wish' has something for everyone with a tidy runtime of 1 hour 40 minutes: feet-tapping songs, gorgeous animation, and at its core a heartfelt examination on confronting our mortality without fear of death. The SCU (Shrek Cinematic Universe) is alive!