Greetings and salutations, dear reader! 2022 has been regard as the year of the year of Pinocchio according to the internet- with not just one, not two, but three movies! One is a remake of the Disney classic starring Tom Hanks, one has Pauly Shore, and last is the Guillermo Del Toro’s dark fantasy remake- with the movies ranking from bad, ok, to good respectively. While it may seem like this post is about Pinocchio, but it’s not. Rather, this is about a 3D animated movie that was not even on my radar and that was highly entertaining, and that movie is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
Never once did I thought that a sequel to a spin-off movie that’s 11 years too late would be my most raved animated movie of 2022, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. Just days after James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to Avatar hit theaters, DreamWorks Animation released what I like to call “sleeper hit’ in the form of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. With a visual 2.5 D visuals akin to that seen in Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, giving this fairy tale adventure an artistic freedom packed with genuine laughs and splashy art.
Since Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a sequel movie, I no recollection of the events that transpired in 2011’s Puss in Boots, though I’m happy today, going straight into the sequel completely oblivious what previously happened didn’t ruin my experience of Antonio Banderas-voiced sword wielding cat. The basic premise for this movie is that the titular Puss in Boots has used up eight of his nine lives in reckless abandon. Then comes a wolf, a physical manifestation of Death who wields two scythes and is voices by Narcos’ Wagner Moura, and I have to say that this depiction of death is by far the coolest I’ve seen in a long time. As the two initially battle, our arrogant feline hero is confident that he’ll come out on top, but the wolf proves too much for him, and is wounded in the process, now truly wraith the fear of dying, Puss runs away.
Now choosing the life of a simple house cat, Puss overhears the legend of a fallen star that will grant a wish to whoever finds it, sets off on a quest with returning character Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and a therapy dog named Perrito (Harvey Guillen) in the prospect of regaining his former life as an adventurer. Standing in their way are Goldilocks (Florance Pugh) and her Three Bears Crime Family, and the magic obsessed collector, “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney)- all who want the star’s wish for their own.
As it turns out, talk of a Puss in Boots sequel was well into development after the success of the first film. Executive producer Guillermo del Toro teased the back in 2012 that a script was being written with Banderas returning and Mike Myers’ Sherk would be in to. Unfortunately, none of this came to pass, and DreamWorks saw many shakeups over the years. It wasn’t until The Crood director Joel Crawford stepped in to helm the project, along with Januel Mercado as co-director thinking of what a CG-animated movie should look like.
As mentioned earlier, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish borrows inspiration from Spider-verse with its 2.5D animation style, emulating this hand-drawn art style fitting the storybook setting. This is very evident throughout the movie, especially as our cast of characters make their way to the wishing star- traversing prismatic backdrops from bright pinks and green forest to the rustic interior of a cat-lady prison. The clever use of color, linework, and kinetic camera moves to bring viewers deeper in the action.
While the visuals and spectacles will surely please younger audiences, but will this movie entertain adults? The answer is yes. I’ve said it before, this movie wasn’t even on my radar for 2022, and I walked into the movies with very low expectations. For adult viewers in the audience will find genuine laughs as the jokes flow naturally aren’t force like most CG-animated movies. This movie does offer some nostalgia for long time Shrek with the many easter eggs and references sprinkled here and there, with brief appearances from the Gingerbread Man and Pinocchio, even the scene where Jack Horner’s arming up his arsenal there’s a tons of fairytale references. If there’s one aspect of this movie that deserve praise is its handling on topics such mortality and acceptance. There are moments where Puss’ fear of dying takes over and proceeds to have panic attacks- for animated movie, this has to be one of the best depiction anxiety.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish might just be the best thing DreamWorks Animation, a studio that isn’t as known for pushing the limits of the medium, has produced in the last decade. The 2010s gave us the motional thrill ride of How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda 2, a martial arts odyssey bursting with imagination. Whatever the case, if you’re in the mood for something good to watch, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is one you should not skip out on. It is a movie of pure entertainment from start to end that all can enjoy.