To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a computer-animated adventure film directed by Joel Crawford (The Croods: A New Age) and Januel Mercado (Dear Diary: World’s First Pranks) from a screenplay by Paul Fisher (The Lego Ninjago Movie) and Tommy Swerdlow (Cool Runnings). Featuring the voice talents of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek reprising their roles from the first film with newcomers Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, John Mulaney, Wagner Moura, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Anthony Mendez; Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a sequel to Puss in Boots (2011) which is a spin-off of the Shrek franchise. Taking place after the events of Shrek Forever After, the story follows swashbuckling outlaw and reluctant hero, Puss in Boots as goes on a journey to find a magical wishing star that can restore eight of his nine lives.
Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) throws a house party in del Mar with many of his adoring fans in attendance. He showers them with gold coins and sings them a song at their request. As Puss sings and dances around the room the party is interrupted by the Governor who is returning home. Upset that the party has trashed his home, the Governor demands that his men arrest the people and bring him the head of the feline outlaw. During his fight with the soldiers, Puss sets off a box of fireworks that awakens the sleeping giant of del Mar and frightens the people.
The giant begins destroying the mansion and capturing people. Puss challenges the monster to save the hostages, including the governor and is overpowered by the behemoth. After a quick coffee break, Puss becomes energized and engages the giant again. Using his small size and quick reflexes Puss manages to confuse the giant and take the giant out with a large bell. After receiving praise from the public, Puss begins to sing another song before he is crushed by the weight of the bell detaching from the antlers of the giant.
I remember when I was 11 years old my mom took me to see Shrek. I thought the film was hilarious and couldn’t wait to see a sequel. Three years later I got my wish when Shrek 2 hit theaters. The follow-up was just as good as the first and introduced audiences to the lovable assassin Puss in Boots. The character was very popular and returned in Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. Of all the fairy tale characters introduced, Puss would be the only one to receive a theatrical spin-off film. Surprisingly to no one, the feature was a critical and financial hit assuring a sequel would hit theaters quicker than a cat nap.
Although plans for a sequel to Puss in Boots began in 2012, the film was delayed numerous times due to corporate restructuring within DreamWorks Animation limiting them to releasing only two animated films a year, director changes, rewrites to the screenplay, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. After being removed from DreamWorks’ release schedule entirely, the film was eventually added back with distribution switching from Paramount to Universal. I can say with all that time and restructuring behind it, this movie was worth the wait!
Due to the 11-year gap between the two films, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish feels more like a legacy sequel in line with the likes of Top Gun: Maverick or Blade Runner 2049. There are many callbacks to the first film as well as ties to the Shrek movies. We see glimpses of his time with Shrek and Donkey as well as cameos from Pinocchio and Gingy. Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) returns for this adventure, but the rest of the characters are new to the franchise. (Unless they appeared in the television series The Adventures of Puss in Boots which regrettably I have not watched.) Puss is now older and not the same fearless cat he once was. He only has one life left and knows any moment could be his last. Only by sheer luck is he forced back into the adventure. Antonio Banderas has not lost a step and still portrays Puss with all the charisma and charm fans are used to. This time around, however, Banderas also adds maturity to the role, showing that Puss has indeed learned from his past mistakes.
The new cast of characters is also great. There’s Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney) who is the main villain and the embodiment of affluence. He was born with all the privilege to live a good life yet he chooses to be a bad person. Even the cricket companion (Kevin McCann) acting as his conscience eventually realizes he’s not worth saving. We get to see a version of Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo) who are a family of thieves challenging Puss for the wishing star. While the aforementioned characters are great, the best addition by far is Perrito (Harvey Guillén). He is the sweetest dog across all animated media. He is shown as a purely good being who only desires friendship. I’m glad he’s sticking around for more adventures. Lastly, while I enjoyed the film’s interpretation of Death (Wagner Moura) and the choice to have a Latino actor voice him, I feel an actor like Tony Todd would have been a better choice for the role as his voice is recognizably menacing.
The animation style used this time around is the same style used in The Bad Guys and is completely different than previous films in the franchise. This fresh animation style was inspired by the success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which let the studio know that continuing with the more traditional style they were used to isn’t necessarily required. The animation is appealing and helps to further distinguish DreamWorks Animation projects from other Disney, Pixar, and Illumination. Hopefully, this stunning storybook style of animation is carried over into all future DreamWorks Animation features.
It’s hard to believe that 11 years later Puss in Boots: The Last Wish would be a true triumph! This movie had no business being this good! It’s the cat’s pajamas. It’s the cat’s meow. It’s whatever cat idiom you can think of. I give Puss in Boots: The Last Wish a Decent 8.9/10. DreamWorks Animation delivered an awesome adventure with a beautiful new animation style that continues to impress. They should get started on Shrek 5 and Puss in Boots 3 faster than a cat-lapping chain lightning. (Okay, okay, I actually had to look that idiom up!)