DreamWorks exceeds expectations with their latest film “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”


Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation

The titular Puss in Boots returns alongside old and new friends including Kitty Softpaws, Goldi, the Three Bears and other fairytale-inspired characters.

Shivangi Nanda, Copy Editor

While many serious moviegoers flocked to theaters for the long-awaited release of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” children—and those still children at heart—enjoyed the latest installment in the “Shrek” franchise. A sequel to 2011’s “Puss in Boots,” titled “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” has gathered widespread acclaim, even achieving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%.

What makes this movie, which was directed by Joel Crawford and released Dec. 21, unique is how it uses its simple characters—and a stacked cast of voice actors—to propel its thematic agenda. Tackling topics like mortality, companionship and family, “The Last Wish” surprised audiences—me included—with how seamlessly it incorporated these messages into what appears to be a simple children’s film.

The plot is a comical adventure revolving around everyone’s favorite feline hero, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). Styled almost like a video game, various fairytale-inspired characters vie for the map of the Wishing Star which will grant the holder access to the titular Last Wish. Puss’s partners include Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and Perro (Harvey Guillén), an orphan dog Puss met at a cat rescue. Rounding out the character list are “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney) and Goldi (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears. Parallel to their adventure, the film delves into the looming issue of Puss’s mortality as he is on the last of his nine feline lives and a Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura) is on the hunt to take the remaining one away.  

At its core, the film is a run-of-the-mill quest story; it’s the characters and animation that make it interesting. Starting with Puss, we are finally given a dynamic character. Unlike previous films which highlighted his prowess in battle, this film sheds light on his flaws and more honest desires: love, belonging and life. When faced with the menacing whistle of the Big Bad Wolf, we see our strong hero cower, fearful of his impending death. We bear witness to a version of Puss who is a fighter and a risk-taker, but not invincible. Over the course of the film we also get to see an empathetic and vulnerable side to Puss as he desires a relationship with Kitty and a friendship with Perro. A former lone fighter, Puss also learns to trust and seek the support of his comrades. Perro, notably, steals the show with his unbridled optimism and pure innocence. Despite his size, Perro bears the weight of some of the most emotional scenes in this film, teaching Puss and Kitty the power of friendship, and proving that hope can be a beacon of light in a world of darkness. 

Character performances were only bolstered by a stylistic animation and flow that set this film apart from others in the franchise. Many reviewers have already noted the painterly animation style—similar to that of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”—which helps create the illusion of a fairytale in motion. Within this style, producers created seamless transitions from vibrant to more rustic art to convey changes in mood or theme. Altogether, the film sets a high watermark for animated films with its sophisticated visuals and more complex characterization.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is funny, serious and warm all at the same time. It swept me away with its artistic whimsy, but also grounded me with complex themes that felt real and relevant. There is a warmth in its loveable cast, easygoing plot and eye-catching visuals, making it truly special.