Directed by: Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado
Premise: A spinoff of the Shrek series and a follow up to the 2011 film. The swashbuckling feline hero (voice of Antonio Banderas) is down to his last cat life. He races other groups of criminals in a quest for a magical wishing star.
What Works: 2011’s Puss in Boots was a better-than-anticipated spinoff for the popular supporting character from the Shrek series and a cut above the direct-to-video spinoffs often released by Hollywood animation studios. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish goes well beyond its predecessor in storytelling and in style. This is one of the best films in the Shrek franchise and one of the best feature films produced by DreamWorks Animation. The craftsmanship of The Last Wish is remarkable. The visual texture of the fur and clothing is vivid and the action is highly kinetic while maintaining the continuity of the action. The Last Wish breaks from the visual style typically seen in the Shrek series and most DreamWorks Animation features, including some anime-influenced sequences. The film strikes a balance of humor and drama. The Last Wish is very funny but it also has gravitas and the characters possess depth. Puss in Boots has lived a carefree life and was free to be reckless because of his nine lives but now he faces true mortality. At first he is paralyzed with fear which Puss must overcome and in doing so he becomes heroic and lives up to his own myth. The Last Wish is about familiar themes of appreciating life because of its finite quality and valuing relationships. It also returns to the reversal of desire seen in the better Shrek films. These ideas are familiar but they are done very well and The Last Wish is an intelligent story but also authentically emotionally engaging.
What Doesn’t: The previous Puss in Boots feature distanced itself from the Shrek formula and the series’ use of cheeky humor and pop culture references. This was for the best and The Last Wish steps even further away from that formula. This is to the movie’s credit but viewers who were particularly enamored by the hook of the Shrek universe will find that missing here. The finale of The Last Wish is visually and conceptually impressive but the internal logic is inconsistent. The story establishes that the magical world changes depending on who holds the map but that idea gets abandoned in the climax.
Bottom Line: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish surpasses its predecessor and most of the films in the Shrek series. This is a fast-paced adventure with humor and intelligence that achieves pleasantly surprising emotional resonance.
Episode: #935 (January 15, 2023)