REVIEW: “puss in boots: the last wish” sets the standard for animated film

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Pranav Suresh

Senior Nikhil Ramaraju is captured in the moment as he replicates his favorite scene from “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (2022).

Pranav Suresh, Arts & Entertainment Editor

“Oh, not another Puss in Boots movie,” many probably said with rolled eyes when they saw this in the box office showings, and if these individuals saw any of the older versions, their opinions might be justified.

Puss in Boots, one of the characters from the SCU (Shrek Cinematic Universe) had its standalone movie in 2011. While amassing a box office hit of $556 million, reception was mixed. So, many were wary about this adaptation, but once anybody sat through the opening scene, all doubts were shut up. 

Users of social media and movie review site Letterboxd raved with praise. One user saying, “Nearly every single second of this movie is perfectly crafted to take advantage of the medium of animation,” shows that this movie is not just another kids movie with poor plot churned out for box-office revenue.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”  premiered in theaters Dec. 22, 2022, and it currently has an astounding 96% on Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Universal Pictures delivers what might be the most unexpectedly great movie ever.

Bringing back the original cast with Antonio Banderas voicing this feline bandit once again, every single frame was a visual spectacle. The opening scene is a brilliant fight scene that is not only amazing for a kids movie, but for cinema in general. 

Another Letterboxd user wrote, “Spider-Verse swung into style so Puss in Boots could land perfectly on its feet. What a surprise banger this was,” showering praise upon the brilliant animation. On par with some of the best animated films ever, many laud the animation style to be “spiderverse-y,” referencing the style of “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” (2019), widely considered to be one of the best animated movies of all time.

Never shying from being ambitious, action scenes play into comic-style fights, something that works exceptionally well in the medium of animation. Dropping frame-rates in fight scenes, there is this unexplainable cohesiveness to every push, kick and punch on the screen. There is some natural code of visual satisfaction that Dreamworks Studios has mastered. Dreamworks is well known for their animated features, past works including “Shrek” (2001), “Kung-Fu Panda” (2008) and “How to Train your Dragon” (2010).

Despite being a kids movie, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” seemed to also be directed towards older audiences, with some relatively mature topics and conflicts seen on the big-screen. The antagonists and obstacles that Puss faced included the classic bad guy, but also very deep and relatable personal conflicts that he had to face.

Puss in Boots is a fearless vigilante who lives off of thrill, but when a bell drops on him and he loses his eighth life, he is on his ninth and final feline life. Now having to face the possibilities of death, Puss becomes a recluse, abandoning his feisty rebel ways.

The movie revolves around Puss and his posse of Kitty Softpaws and Perrito as they venture to find the shooting star that fell into earth that created magic in the world. Puss, in his last life and afraid of dying, wants to wish for nine more lives.

Viewers can see fairytale favorites like Little Jack, Goldilocks and the three bears. Voiced by Florence Pugh, Goldilocks is British for some reason, as well as the three bears, voiced by Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo and Olivia Colman.

This choice, though seemingly unconventional, was a perfect tiny addition that made these characters lovely secondary antagonists. As a whole, all of the characters were very lovable and them being a British crime-family was one of the things that elevated this movie above others. Like Puss, Goldi and the three bears also want to get the wish from the wishing star.

As all of these characters aim to find the star so that they can have their one wish in the world granted, conflict is resolved in ways that subvert the common tropes of the childrens’ genre.

Instead of the antagonists getting defeated by Puss, many of them just realize that why they wanted a wish in the first place was flawed. Realizing that the conflict wasn’t the chase to the star, but rather internal conflicts, this movie brilliantly finds a way to have exciting action sequences while still ensuring that all characters end with a positive resolution. 

These internal conflicts set up what will surely be considered one of the greatest animated villains of all time. Death (not metaphorically, or rhetorically, or poetically or theoretically,) is the wolf who stalks Puss in his most uncertain moments. Death pops in and out with his menacing whistle, constantly reminding Puss that he only has one life left to live.

Puss, so afraid of Death, both literally and metaphorically, is seen falling into a panic attack at the sight of Death. This scene is one where the movie breaks the mold of these animated movies, delving into a realm of realness that most others don’t. As Puss grows to deal with this anxiety of Death, Dreamworks sets up one one of the studios greatest climactic clashes.

Death is one of the greatest animated villains ever and every single time he was on screen, he flooded the viewer with a shivering chill down their spine. 

Senior Nate Goy recently watched the movie and was impressed with Death. “In movies like this I always assume that the main villain is going to be pretty tame, but Death was a great character that definitely felt scarier than most,” Goy stated.  “Death was a really cool character, and the final scene with Puss and Death on the star was very cool to see.” Goy concluded.

Death was not just a strong and formidable villain to Puss because he was stronger and beating Puss in battle, but because he was Puss’ internal dilemma with facing death. Avoiding spoilers, the final battle is a visual and cinematic beauty that is not just one of the best animated movies of 2022, but best movies period. Death and Puss have a battle that solidifies Death as one of the greatest villains.

With stunning animation, captivating characters, brilliantly choreographed action sequences and a truly frightening villain, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a movie that should be on everybody’s watchlist. If you need any more convincing, here is an extended preview released by Universal Pictures to show just how good the visuals are.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” cements itself as one of the best movies in the Shrek Cinematic Universe and shows the beauties of cinema and animation when the medium is perfected into a brilliantly cohesive movie for viewers of all ages.