In the wake of ‘Into The Spider-Verse‘, it has been a true pleasure seeing animation truly reawaken in Hollywood. It might be giving it too much credit at this point but there is no denying that after its explosive visuals and passionate love for the medium, studios are now putting more faith in its animation projects. Dreamworks and Pixar have been consistently changing up their designs with each movie and it seems like a success with each release. To return to the mega-hit franchise that is ‘Shrek‘ and give it this new life with this spin-off sequel seemed rather unfeasible but what the crew at Dreamworks Animation have accomplished with ‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish‘ is not just admirable but a truly best-case scenario. A stunning accomplishment that should further push animation into this new ground of experimentation, maturity and ingenuity.
very mild spoilers for ‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish‘ are featured in this review.
‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish’ is a mesmerizing feat of stunning, colourful and bold animation that brings to life a script that’s full of heart, thrills and that humour that we love from the earlier ‘Shrek‘ movies. It cannot be overstated just how much of a pleasant surprise this film is. Even after weeks of hearing nothing but praise for it, I did not expect to find myself enjoying it this much. Dreamworks Animation has been ramping up the quality lately and it’s been truly rewarding to see. Right from the opening scene, this movie establishes this stunningly colourful animation which is just mesmerizing to behold. That being said, this movie works as well as it does because the script, music, timing and animation work together in unanimous harmony. The structure and pacing of each action sequence are perfectly timed to get this constant sense of exhilaration happening. Again, there are so many moments in that opening sequence that happen in such a short amount of time yet they’re so memorable. Puss being catapulted by the strings of a bass into the air, him drinking coffee instead of milk and getting hyped up, that shot with the monster throwing the bell across town far from a distance as we follow Puss jumping from one building to the other. It is just magnificent. Yes, the animation is spectacular but it truly wouldn’t have had the same effect had it not been for the storyboards and the script.
The script for ‘The Last Wish‘ genuinely captures that same magic present in the first two ‘Shrek‘ movies. It is absolutely hilarious, frightening, mature and heartfelt. The ambitious amount of characters surprisingly make for a cast that contributes to the story in a lot of ways. I was struggling to pinpoint who the exact antagonist is, I thought that Goldie and the Three Bears and Jack Horner would be pushed to the side or defeated in the first two acts but they actually stick around the whole way through. The thing is, I actually didn’t mind them at all! In fact, I loved their characters. Goldie and the Bears contribute this touching story about found family and it was a pleasant surprise hearing Florence Pugh and Olivia Colman in here. When I first laid eyes on Jack Horner, I got concerned that Dreamworks was going to present this huge unlikable, whiny and annoying guy and pass him off as a villain. Imagine my surprise when he ends up becoming one of my favourite characters! John Mulaney is perfect! It’s no surprise that his comedic timing and unforgiving delivery make Jack a hilariously menacing antagonist. There is nothing to him really, he is just an asshole and he owns up to it, he is great!
The difference between the original 2011 film and this sequel is as clear as day. Look at me bringing ‘Evil Dead 2’ back into the conversation. The opening scene in that sequel showed such a clear improvement and understanding of what type of film it is supposed to be. Watching the first solo Puss In Boots movie, it was very clear that Puss as a character was too good for it. The film and its script failed him because as a character it is clear that the animators and Antonio Banderas understand him completely. In ‘The Last Wish’, Puss finally gets the solo film he deserves. Puss is a golden lead, he shines in everything he does, even when he is a lap cat. Banderas and the animators bring him to life so wonderfully with the comedy and the action. My biggest flaw with the 2011 film is Humpty Dumpty being the antagonist when he should’ve been broken in the first scene he was introduced in. DEATH himself is a massive upgrade. A truly frightening and chilling antagonist that leaves one hell of an impression. The whistle is inspired, the horrific look in his eyes would’ve made me piss myself as a child and the weapons and cloak complete him perfectly. Wagner Moura is absolutely fantastic in this role, he is a truly magnificent villain. I am so happy with how sparingly they used him, he is a total scene-stealer and the less they exposed him, the more terrifying he was. I think Perrito was very much an Olaf from ‘Frozen’ but without the singing and the stupid jokes so he was great! Kitty Softpaws is a great partner for Puss, I thought their storyline was rather mature and cute.
Overall, ‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish‘ is easily one of the best sequels animation has seen in a long time. The simple yet beautiful story is brought to wonderous life with explosively colourful animation that asks audiences to reconsider what an animated film should look like. The voice-cast is stellar, the messages deep and the use of fairytales as didactic and parodistic as a ‘Shrek‘ film would. I am genuinely excited for the future of this franchise and Dreamworks Animation as a whole.
‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish’ is showing in cinemas now.