He’s fearless, cute, orange and let’s be honest here – Puss in Boots is probably the last animal we would think would have a sequel film, but Antonio Banderas returns as the swashbuckling feline in this purrfect comeback, a spin-off from the highly successful Shrek films, and this time, he’s on an epic journey to find the mythical ‘Last Wish’, and restore his nine lives.
In continuing to up-end traditional beliefs and notions from fairy tales and popular tall tales, the reason Puss has lived so long is because of the fabled nine lives cats have, but Puss has burnt through eight of them, and is on the brink of death. Determined to continue a life of adventure, Puss reconnects with old friend turned adversary Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), makes a new one in Perro (Harvey Guillen) and embarks on a search that puts him in a heated rivalry against Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Coleman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo), as well as Jack Horner (John Mulaney).
All whilst being hunted by The Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura). Phew. Were the other fairy tale staples unavailable for this outing?
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a fair mixture of action, adventure, horror and comedy with even pacing and enough characters to keep you invested, without the story being too crowded and convoluted. There are plenty of funny moments that will make viewers laugh out loud and emotional scenes that will squeeze a tear or two out. Most impressively, all these heartful moments are perfectly balanced with tension and a heart-pumping climax.
Still, this is no average family movie that features cute fairytale characters. Whilst familiar characters like the Three Bears and even Puss himself are pulls for the younger audience, the movie’s themes and messages are geared towards older audiences. And like the Shrek films, there are also plenty of snark and flippant one-liners that makes this a kids film that also appeals to adults.
Each of Puss’ rivals are also looking for the ‘Last Wish’, a magical star that will grant the wish of the person who finds it. Goldilocks wants to find her family and Jack Horner wants to be the biggest and baddest villain in all of the land. What seems like simple wants, actually tell a much deeper tale on morality, confronting death and realising that what you want, is simply right in front of you, and all you have to do is open your eyes.
These characters aren’t just bad and good, with perhaps the exception of Jack Horner, but even then one can sympathize with him. No one is inherently bad, but are rather a product of their upbringing. Their motivations are well explained that you can empathise with their desire to find the ‘Last Wish’ – no matter what it takes.
Banderas is better than ever in voicing Puss, bringing new layers to the character as he faces an existential crisis and for the first time, lays down his sword and his ever-so-charming persona. This is not the Puss we saw in the first movie, and definitely not the Puss we see in the beloved Shrek movies. This new shade of Puss makes the cat even more likeable and makes us want to see more of him following this enjoyable sequel.
Pugh’s Goldilocks and her trio of bears are a second favourite. Each actor brings their own personality to their roles with the relationship between Goldilocks and Baby Bear being all too familiar for those who grew up with a healthy level of sibling rivalry or in a big family full of unique and eccentric personalities.
This sequel is also a kaleidoscope of colours. A burst of colours from start to finish, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’s 2D hand-drawn stylings and mix of CG animation remind us of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, making this look like it’s right out of a comic book.
Dreamworks Animation was a juggernaut in the early 2000s, having brought viewers beloved film franchises like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon but have since lost their touch in recent years. The Boss Baby films were funny and The Croods movies were colourful too, but both franchises did not capture the magic that came with Shrek and its peers. With Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, it seems like Dreamworks is back on the ball and is regaining its power after all.
And no, we’re not saying this because we’re a sucker for Puss’ ever so-adorable eyes.
Ok, maybe slightly. Can you blame us?
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has us wishing for more sequels in this heartful and colourful comeback, featuring the charming Antonio Banderas as everyone’s favourite swashbuckling feline.
Story - 8/10
Direction - 9/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10