‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ is an excellent send off to 2022
By Owen Glancy
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is the latest film from DreamWorks Animation Studio and one of their best.
One of the greatest parts about the film is the beautiful animation style. While the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” influences are clear, the film takes this style and gives it a more childish look, allowing the action scenes to really flow.
The film’s opening action scene is an immediate indicator to the film’s quality. The titular Puss in Boots saves a town from its corrupt governor as well as a sleeping giant. The catchy musical number, the excellent vocal performance from Antonio Banderas as Puss, and the stellar animation all build to a mind-blowing crescendo. The final punchline at the end of the scene is so well delivered and executed that it made me audibly laugh in a crowded theater full of children.
The movie only gets better from there, following Puss as he deals with the loss of eight out of his nine lives. This theme of appreciating the life you’re given is a compelling and memorable one that sticks out compared to DreamWorks’ other films.
The animation and themes are only the tip of the iceberg. The characters are all excellent. Puss is a far more engaging protagonist than he was in the 2011 film “Puss in Boots” and Banderas has an honestly intoxicating voice. Puss’ companions Perrito and Kitty Softpaws are also great.
Perrito seemed to be built up as an annoying comic relief character and I was prepared to dislike him because of this. His first couple of scenes didn’t help this impression, but thankfully, he becomes an excellent character who offers my favorite interaction in the entire movie when he helps Puss recover from a panic attack.
Kitty Softpaws is the only returning side character from the first “Puss in Boots” film and her character is far more memorable than in the past. While her arc about learning to trust people is fairly generic, it still feels satisfying to see her slowly open up through the course of the movie.
While the main trio is undeniably great, it’s the villains that really stick in your head after watching. This film tackles three central antagonists - The Wolf, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Big Jack Horner. Typically films with three antagonists can feel bloated and overwhelming, but this film balances them perfectly.
The Wolf is perhaps the most memorable and cool villain to come from an animated film in a while. He is used very sparingly, only having three major scenes. However, his menacing character and the lasting impact he leaves on Puss lingers over the entire film.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears are all a ton of fun. Goldilocks is a very interesting character who is surrounded by three generic characters. They have a running joke that starts off hilarious, but it does overstay its welcome toward the end. Goldilocks’ relationship with the bears is interesting and even though their arcs are rushed toward the end, it still comes together in a satisfying way.
Big Jack Horner is by far the least interesting of the three villains, but he is absolutely the funniest. Seeing such an unapologetically demented and twisted villain in a children's movie is wild and his array of magical weaponry makes for an unpredictable threat. Seeing him accidentally kill his men in increasingly gruesome ways is hilarious and unlike the Goldilocks bit, never gets old.
The film’s only major negative is in its early pacing. After Puss learns he is down to his last life and encounters The Wolf for the first time, he retires at the home of a cat lady named Mama Luna. While this part of the film is a necessity for Puss’ character, it drags on for a little too long. This leaves the start of the story feeling very long and takes away from the actual journey.
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a huge step-up for DreamWorks as a studio. The new animation style, the more mature story and themes, and the excellent music and voice acting set a very high standard for the studio, and animated films in general.
A: An unexpectedly excellent film