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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’: A view of fear, love, loss

Puss+in+Boots%3A+The+Last+Wish%3A+A+view+of+fear%2C+love%2C+loss

Collegian | Madelyn Hendricks

Alex Prast

DJ Vicente, Staff Reporter

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is DreamWorks Animation’s newest addition to their catalogue of animated features and the direct sequel to “Puss in Boots” from 2011. The story wonderfully tells another tale of the titular feline while also depicting surprisingly grounded lessons about life, death and purpose.

The film takes place within DreamWorks’ own “Shrek” universe, indicated by the movie’s dry, witty humor, its consistent comical cynicism in the portrayal of fairy tale characters and a story that mirrors universal struggles of the human experience.

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The film centers around the endearingly extravagant Puss in Boots’ (Antonio Banderas) quest in finding the eponymous “Last Wish.”

“Puss’ fear of death leaves him unable to see the value of his current life and the relationships he formed with those along the way.”

Puss himself sets off on his quest after realizing he has depleted eight of his nine lives due to his daring and often reckless escapades. While initially dismissive, a cat-and-wolf chase of mortality ensues from Puss’ very literal fear of death, brought to life by a vicious, red-eyed white wolf voiced by Wagner Moura.

The film’s portrayal of death as a looming, ever-present trauma to Puss is effective in its grounded depiction of someone dealing with their own mortality. Puss’ fear of death leaves him unable to see the value of his current life and the relationships he formed along the way.

The shockingly sweet and well-realized lesson in the value of life is carried by the other two tritagonists: an orphaned dog named Perrito (Harvey Guillén) as well as rival and old flame Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). The two bounce off Puss in humorous and surprisingly emotional banter as the three talk about their own wishes, their pasts and the fondness they grow for each other.

One strikingly touching moment arrives at the halfway point when Puss has a panic attack after a short run-in with the wolf. Perrito comforts Puss in a moment of vulnerability, unheard of from a character like Puss.

One subplot involves the interpersonal relationships between the antagonists of the Three Bears Crime Family: Goldilocks, voiced by Florence Pugh, and the three bears in her company: Papa Bear (Ray Winstone), Mama Bear (Olivia Colman) and Baby Bear (Samson Kayo).

The subplot deals with the ties of found family, portraying the character of Goldilocks as an orphan daughter to the three bears. It effectively weaves itself into Puss’ own conflict with a heavy emphasis on connection and family presence throughout the movie.

John Mulaney’s inclusion as Jack Horner is presented as a fun yet pure-evil villain whose character offsets his peers’ sympathetic backstories.

A main draw of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is its newfound animation style, drawing viewers in with a more stylized painting-like approach in visuals that spruces up every frame. The characters are painted with beautiful brushstrokes, especially in wildly kinetic scenes, such as the movie’s introductory fight.

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The industry-wide push to aim for more two-dimensional, computer-generated animation is largely in thanks to Sony Pictures Animation’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” from 2018, with its critical success owing much to its comic book-like visual style. 

The movie score, which was composed by Heitor Pereira, is another one of the film’s most notable qualities. Orchestral sweeps mixed with flamenco-style guitar and electronic beats make for an energetic and heartfelt soundtrack.

A persistent musical motif performed by Banderas is present throughout the film, beginning from the opening musical number and carrying itself throughout the movie in different moods and moments to create an emotional timeline for Puss’ growth.

Through it all, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” makes the landing with catlike precision through its dry humor, fairy tale cynicism and powerful emotional beats, giving this film a striking modern identity that harkens back to its universe’s roots.

Reach DJ Vicente at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @DeejMako.

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