Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a heartfelt, surprisingly mature look at life and death from one heroic cat’s perspective. Read our review of the Oscar-nominated animation.
Originally a character introduced in Shrek 2, Puss in Boots was an instant fan favourite. The character’s solo film, a little unimaginatively titled Puss in Boots, premiered in 2011, and it’s taken 11 years to get a sequel to that.
Thankfully, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is well worth that long, arduous wait for animation fans.
At the beginning of The Last Wish, Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) finds himself on the last of his nine lives. Even fearless, swash-buckling kitties will have to face death eventually, but Puss is keen on continuing his adventures and desperately needs some extra lives.
He sets out to find a magical Wishing Star which could grant him more time on Earth. Joining him is his ex-fiancee Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek). Still, the villainous Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo) are after the map to the Wishing Star too.
As you can see, the voice cast to The Last Wish is stacked, like really stacked. Oscar nominees and winners left, right and centre of it. There’s always something very giddy about hearing your favourite actor do a particularly fun voice performance. Florence Pugh is the highlight here, clearly having a ball doing a heightened Cockney accent that somehow never feels out of place in this world. Her Goldilocks is an excellent addition to the world of Shrek, firmly rooted in fairy tales but also given a surprising amount of depth here.
Antonio Banderas, as per usual, is also pitch-perfect as the titular cat. His voice is sultry and seducing, so much so that it feels a little wrong for a kid’s film. The same goes for Salma Hayek. Their vocal chemistry is off the charts, making The Last Wish a treat for kiddos and adults alike.
Perhaps that’s the biggest strength of the film. It’s very clearly a kid’s film; most of the comedy is pure slapstick, but the storyline feels much more mature than previous Dreamworks animated efforts. It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff plot-wise, but The Last Wish feels distinctly more ambitious than its predecessor.
The Last Wish also reaches for the sky with its animation style. The film mixes several different styles, which gives it a sense of prestige. The Last Wish clearly wants to hit the same notes that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse did. Animation is a genre that is constantly evolving, and The Last Wish successfully blends different styles together for a dynamic end result, even if none of it is quite as memorable or zeitgeisty as desired.
There is also something uncanny about the human character design. In the first sequence, in which Puss is hosting a lavish party, the human faces look Disney-fied with unnaturally large eyes. This brings the film down a tad, but thankfully, the story is what really keeps The Last Wish going.
The Last Wish is funny enough to appeal to kids, but it’s also honest enough to entertain adults. There are plenty of references to other fairy tales, occasionally making The Last Wish feel like a game of bingo. The film also holds a potent, if uninspired, message about appreciating and living your life to the fullest.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a worthy sequel and Dreamworks Animation’s most ambitious, visually striking film in years. With stellar voice performances from Banderas, Hayek and Pugh, The Last Wish has cemented its place as a great sequel and a superb animated film.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is in cinemas on 3 February.