- Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
- Studio: Dreamworks
- Director: Joel Crawford
- Where to Watch: In Theaters or Prime Video ($)
The legendary Puss in Boots has lived eight lifetimes of adventure and chaos, each life building upon the accomplishments of the last. But when Puss finally lands on his ninth life, it appears that his luck has finally run out. Death has come for Puss and he will stop at nothing to get his ninth life. As Puss flees Death, he leaves his old life behind and becomes a lap cat until some fairy tale creatures come looking for him in order to hire him for a job. Puss evades them but learns that the score is The Last Wish and it could restore him to legendary status.
Much like how the Star Wars prequels have grown in popularity from memes and nostalgia, so have Shrek and its associated properties. The first Puss in Boots spinoff was released in 2011 and the Shrek franchise has remained mostly dormant since then. There was a Puss in Boots six-season 77-episode series on Netflix that ran from 2015-2018, but that’s about it. Occasional rumors crop up pertaining to a fifth mainline installment and the non-spoiler ending to The Last Wish will only fuel that speculation further.
Antonio Banderas steps back into the boots as the voice of Puss in The Last Wish. Banderas retains the gravelly voice with suave delivery that audiences are so familiar with. Since it has been over a decade since the last time Banderas played the role, his voice has a little more mileage on it and that lines up nicely with where the character himself is at in this story. Also returning to the Shrek universe is Salma Hayek as Kitty Softpaws. I’ve never seen the original 2011 Puss in Boots so I was unfamiliar with her original performance of this character, but I have seen her in several other movies over the past few years (Eternals and House of Gucci) so I knew roughly what to expect. She’s sassy, bold, and just as funny as Banderas.
Hayek and Banderas worked well together and that’s due in part to the impeccable writing from Etan Coen, Tom Wheeler, Paul Fisher, and Tommy Swerdlow. As an adult watching this I was able to predict the relatively simple story beats with ease. Obviously that’s because it’s a movie for children and I’ve seen a lot of movies, but it’s still a little formulaic. It’s entertaining throughout, but there aren’t any bold steps forward with the story. A few minor tweaks to a tried and true procedure that’s still good, just a little too familiar.
Even though it was familiar for 85% of the movie, the 15% that was tweaked was extremely well done. Giving Puss a real set of nine lives with a deadly Grim Reaper-esque bounty hunter chasing after him was a stroke of genius. The voice work by Wagner Moura as the Wolf was cold, cunning, and relentless. He reminded me of Boba Fett or The Mandalorian with how cool and unconcerned he was with catching his quarry.
The real star of the show is how gorgeous this movie looked. My goodness, the 4K looked incredible on my home tv and the soundscape matched wonderfully with the soundbar set up I have. If it managed to look this good at home, the theatrical experience must have been even better. The frame rate noticeably more “animated” and almost comic book style. It reminded me a lot of Into The Spider-Verse and how certain shots were floaty and lacking full range of motion. But then there were moments where everything was so fluid and smoothly rendered it was like watching the best hand drawn Ghibli animation. The art style was more blended than traditional Dreamworks visuals as well. It looked like a painting, rather than what audiences might have been expecting for a Shrek spinoff character.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish deserves all the runaway success and nominations it has earned since its release in late December 2022. Riding the wave of nostalgia and memes, The Last Wish is incredibly well made. Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek return in full force as Puss and Kitty Softpaws with great performances. Not only was it a very funny and smartly written movie, but it was exceptionally gorgeous to look at. Dreamworks has really stepped it up the past few years and I’m excited to see what else they have in the lab after this surprise hit.