DreamWorks Does it Again: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ is Way Too Good

On December 21, 2022, DreamWorks’ latest foray back into the ‘Shrek’ universe after more than a decade after the last movie, ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ released in theaters. I had the chance to watch it at a real-life movie theater in Leominster, an opportunity that can often escape the average college student in the age of streaming. After DreamWorks’ recent children’s features such as ‘The Boss Baby’ and ‘Trolls’ that personally didn’t appeal to me, I didn’t go in with high expectations. I should have, because I was blown away within the first 30 minutes.

Puss, the titular, snappy, boot-wearing cat voiced by Antonio Banderas, had nine lives. He’s now down to only one life after being crushed by a bell in the opening sequence, and reality sets in for him. Eventually he learns of the last wish, which he’s determined to get and restore his nine lives. He teams up with his ex-fiancée Kitty Softpaws, voiced by Salma Hayek, and a friendly therapy dog named Perrito, voiced by Harvey Guillén, on this journey. Confronting mortality ensues.

An issue many studios seem to be having recently with their children’s animated features is that they try to fit too many messages into the average 98 minutes of runtime. ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ doesn’t do this. There are many overarching themes in the film, as well as two plots going on at once, and viewers are able to leave the theater feeling that there weren’t any loose ends or unanswered questions.

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ themes of coming to terms with mortality is woven in seamlessly and handled expertly for a children’s feature film. It’s done so in a way that’s even relatable for adult audiences, as the topic of death is something we all are going to have to face at some point in our lives. After running from Death the whole film while trying to get this wish he learns his one life he has left with his friends is worth fighting for, and that death is nothing to avoid or be scared of.

The film’s animation is also stunning and fresh. The action scenes have a lower framerate than normal, low-action scenes. A drop in framerate might sound bad, but it makes those action sequences more dynamic and exciting to watch. On top of this, a more painterly style was used in this movie. inspired by Sony Pictures Animation’s ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse’ style. This is a deviation from the rest of the movies in the ‘Shrek’ franchise, which were more realistic. The stylistic choice makes the movie look like right out of a painting, and it’s easy to get lost in the little details.

You can tell that the people who worked on this Puss in Boots: The Last Wish poured immense amounts of love and care into it, and had a lot of creative freedom. Which is ironic because the ‘Shrek’ franchise started as a way to punish animators for failing on ‘The Prince of Egypt’. DreamWorks employees referred to being sent to work on the original ‘Shrek’ movie as being ‘shreked’. What started as being sent to the DreamWorks dungeons has turned into a beloved franchise that still holds up well, even over 20 years later. ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ is proof that franchises can continue long after their beginning, so long as there’s passion and heart behind it.