Puss in Boots The Last Wish Synopsis: Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll: He has burned through eight of his nine lives, leaving him with only one life left. Puss sets out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives.
Shrek fan favorite Puss in Boots embarks on a new silver-screen adventure in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. This time, the legendary crusader is coming face-to-face with his own mortality. After living eight lives jam-packed with perilous adventures, Puss discovers he is on his ninth and final life.
The discovery places Puss in Boots in a moral quandary, unsure if he can live a meaningful life without the cheering spectators and thrilling odysseys that became embedded within his legacy. To rediscover his spark, Puss in Boots, a feline lover from a past life and a free-spirited dog, journey on a quest to restore his lives through a magical "last wish." Goldilocks, the Three Bears, Jack Horner, and a menacing mercenary, The Big Bad Wolf, follow their trail as they look to stop Puss in Boots once and for all.
Puss in Boots broke out on the screen as a fan favorite in Shrek 2 before receiving his own standalone feature in 2011. The effective, albeit forgettable, 2011 film feels like a lifetime ago, but I do remember the title providing a solid foundation for highlighting the character's buoyant personality.
Thankfully, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish marks a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. This sequel effectively strives for more ambitious narrative grounds while showcasing Dreamworks animation's newfound stylistic ingenuity.
I give Dreamworks ample credit for holistically reinventing itself after 20-plus years of success (2022's The Bad Guys is also a stellar film). Taking notes from the innovative success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse's blending of animation forms, The Last Wish comes to life through a flurry of evocative animation flourishes. Directors Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado work prosperously alongside their skilled animation team in splicing traditional 2D animation techniques within the film's 3D animation backdrop.
The meshing of craft approaches creates a lively storybook canvas fitting of Puss in Boots' fairy tale nature. I am glad animated studios are now more focused on enhancing their craft through evocative style and framing choices rather than creating the most life-like imagery. The Last Wish boasts an electric visual presentation that effectively enhances the tensions and emotions of its narrative. The combative action frames are a particular highlight as the spirited Puss in Boots goes toe-to-toe with the ominous presence of The Big Bad Wolf. During these unnerving encounters, some of the animation team's techniques sent shivers down my spine in ways most live-action blockbusters can't equal (kids look away, the Big Bad Wolf is a legitimate terror).
The Last Wish also showcases Dreamworks' transition towards thoughtful narrative avenues. Paul Fisher's screenplay genuinely reckons with Puss in Boots insular struggles with mortality and entering a new chapter of his once-adventurous life. It's a narrative focus that awards more complexity and rich textures to Puss in Boots compared to prior offerings. Even supporting characters, like Goldilocks and her deep family ties with the Three Bears, receive expressive attention to detail. Is the film's descent into its characters and themes incredibly nuanced? Maybe not, but the shading that is present imbues necessary humanity into the proceedings.
The expressive voice-over performances provide an additional spark to the characters. Antonio Banderas exudes movie star charisma as he conveys Puss in Boots's cunning bravado while still vulnerably digging into the character's internal struggles. Salma Hayek makes for a fitting comedic partner to Puss in Boots as the sharp-minded Kitty Softpaws. Likewise, the presence of Florence Pugh, John Mulaney, and Ray Winstone in their villainous roles enhances the material's sharp edge.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is an accomplished sequel that fearlessly strives for and achieves grander heights than most of its animated peers. I am thrilled by the second-act creative renaissance that Dreamworks has initiated, and I look forward to seeing what the studio dreams up next.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is now playing in theaters.