Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022): Animated Purr-fection

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is directed by Joel Crawford and co-directed by Januel Mercado. This film stars Antonio Banderas (The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Uncharted), Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Eternals), Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows, The Magicians), Florence Pugh (Black Widow, Don’t Worry Darling), Olivia Colman (The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Empire of Light), Ray Winstone (Point Break, Beowulf), Samson Kayo (Our Flag Means Death, Famalam), John Mulaney (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers), Wagner Moura (Brazil, Narcos), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Selfie, People of Earth), and Anthony Mendez (Jane the Virgin, Foodtastic). In this sequel to the 2011 spinoff film “Puss in Boots,” the title character is down to his ninth and last life. Carrying his hopes to recover his past lives, Puss sets out on a journey to find a Wishing Star.

2011’s “Puss in Boots” is a surprisingly good movie. I think it is a bit rushed, but it has its pros. The characters are likable. The voice performances are solid. The music is catchy as well. I did not think it was as memorable as say “Shrek” and “Shrek 2,” the latter of which introduced Puss to the iconic DreamWorks franchise. Nevertheless, the movie was solid despite being a quick ride. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a follow-up part of me never thought we would get. The spinoff seemed like a one-off. But, someone, somewhere wanted to make this sequel. After all, in an age where “Star Wars” is still relevant, it is evident that nostalgia sells. The last major “Shrek”-related project to release in theaters was in fact the 2011 “Puss in Boots” movie. As to whether this would be a great sequel or a cheap nostalgia bomb was a mystery. The trailers looked good, but so did the trailers to “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which did not mean much when I saw the movie.

Ladies and gentlemen, if there is any indication that you should see this movie, here are some bold statements. First off, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is better than the original. Not bold enough? Okay, let me take it a step further. Not only is it better than its 11-year-old predecessor, I would say it is superior to all of the “Shrek” installments. This includes the original, and my personal favorite, “Shrek 2.” Is this a case of recency bias? Possibly. It has been awhile since I have seen the “Shrek” films. But it does not change the fact that I was smiling the entire time this movie was playing. And when I was not smiling, I was either laughing or dropping my jaw.

The first ten minutes of this movie is some of the most bonkers, ridiculous, unhinged stuff I have witnessed on a screen this year. There is a moment where Puss is taking down a beast and goes towards it by catapulting himself into the air via a stringed instrument. How cool is that?! Meanwhile he has time to sing a song and brag about himself. This is not only a fitting introduction to this movie and the character, it is some of the most fun I had at the movies this year. I have not felt this giddy at the start of an animation since maybe “The LEGO Batman Movie.”

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” blends 2D and 3D animation elements to make a movie that is wonderfully stylized and perfectly realized. Few movies released in 2022 look as visually striking as this one. At times, this movie has the tone of previous material featuring the Puss character, including the “Shrek” installments, while also inserting a style that reminded me of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” Select scenes felt like a graphic novel coming to life. To say I was struck with awe might be an understatement. And when I say awe, I am not just talking about big eyes. Although those do, coincidentally, make an appearance in the movie.

Puss in Boots is a role Antonio Banderas is practically born to play. His voice is absolutely perfect as the iconic feline and I was somewhat worried after all these years it might not be the same. Nope, he still has the goods! There is a certain hyperactivity Banderas commits to with the role that I think few actors would be able to encapsulate. There is a saying that actors are replaceable, and I would agree with this philosophy. However, I think if somebody else were to play the Puss in Boots role in the future, they have massive shoes, or boots in this case, to fill.

The film has multiple threats including Goldi and the Three Bears, Jack Horner, and a wolf bounty hunter. Having seen a couple “Spider-Man” films butcher themselves by poorly utilizing multiple threats at once, it might as well be easy to worry that this movie could lose control. Thankfully, it does not. Each antagonist has a purpose and place in the story. In addition to all of these antagonists opposing themselves to Puss and his crew, some want to use the Wishing Star to fulfill their own desires. This adds threats not only to Puss’s life, but his past lives as well. Without giving much away, one of these mentioned antagonists might be the creepiest DreamWorks animation villain ever put to screen. Both in terms of looks and motivation. If I were a young child watching this movie, I would quiver upon first sight of this fiend.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a quickly paced, action-packed thrill ride of a film that while I will say is okay for children to watch, impressed me because of its tendency to go full throttle with certain action elements. This movie even has blood in it, which I do not often see in PG films. The action sequences in “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” are my favorite DreamWorks action scenes since “Kung Fu Panda 3.” There is little shortage of color, wacky effects, and pizazz. Again, it was like watching a graphic novel come to life. It almost felt like a flashy video game. I would go see this movie a second time for the action alone. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” has action that reminds me of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which this movie nearly rivals in terms of flashiness. Another movie the action reminds me of is “Bullet Train,” which has a series of creative sequences and fights with impressive choreography. Simply put, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” contains my favorite action sequences from any movie released this year.

If I had any flaws with “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” they would be hard to come by. Although if I had to come up with one it would be that while the humor is solid for the most part, there are one or two jokes that fall flat, including one that was probably just inserted to get a laugh out of the younger audiences. This may be a personal thing, but for those who remember the 2011 “Puss in Boots,” there is an oohing cat that is constantly used as a gag during the film. I did not find it funny the first time, nor did I find it funny the third or fourth time. But for some reason the cat finds his way back to this sequel. Thankfully it was only in one scene, but still.

In the end, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a great spinoff, a stellar sequel, and a smile-inducing time at the movies. This movie was so good that I am surprised to say that I want a third installment. This movie is up there with “Turning Red” and “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” as one of the best animations of 2022. Packed with ridiculously enthralling action sequences, unbelievably eye-popping animation, and a shockingly emotional ending, this film is perfect for all audiences. Take it from someone who is not much of a cat person. Or even a pet person in general. I loved “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and I am going to give it a 9/10.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” releases in theaters everywhere Wednesday, December 21st. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have more coming soon! The 2022 reviews are likely coming to an end, but I do plan to see another movie this week. My next review is likely going to either be for “Babylon” or “The Whale.” I have not decided yet. That said, if you want to see more animated movie reviews, check out my thoughts on “Strange World,” “DC League of Super-Pets,” and “Luck!” If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish?” What did you think about it? Or, now that we have four “Shrek” movies and a couple of “Puss in Boots” spinoff titles, which movie in the “Shrek” universe would you say is the best one? Honestly, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” might take the cake. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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