After more than 20 years, the franchise that put DreamWorks Animation on the map is still kicking, and the latest in the series is fine addition.
As the title implies, the film focuses on the character Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). After many dangerous adventures before and after meeting the ogre Shrek, Puss in Boots is down to his ninth and final life.
With a desire to continue living life on the edge and knowing the predicament he’s in, the feline decides to go on a quest to find a place that will grant him a wish, which he plans to use for more lives. Along the way, he’s joined by friends new and old, and is introduced to new enemies.
It was easy to be skeptical about “The Last Wish,” considering it had been quite some time since the last installment. When “Puss in Boots” came out in 2011, the “Shrek” franchise had run out of steam, and DreamWorks was wisely moving on to series like “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The concern is that a film like this will either feel like a simple cash grab or another spin-off to a beloved franchise with nothing much to say, see this year’s “Lightyear.” Fortunately, “Last Wish” had come creativity behind it and it shows on screen
The protagonist’s journey in the film is legitimately compelling to watch, as Puss lives with fear in his heart knowing he doesn’t have another life waiting. Viewers can feel for him as he considers giving up his life of adventure, and will root for him as he becomes determined to accomplish his quest, accepting mortality in the process.
It’s a fun journey overall, too, as the film plays out like a classic adventure tale. There’s a destination with an important item and the characters go through some dangerous situations to get there. This includes both hazardous terrain and fearsome enemies. The latter produces some really good action.
No joke, “Last Wish” has some of the best fight scenes of any movie released in 2022. During the action sequences, the new “Puss in Boots” incorporates a great looking anime style as the characters engage in exciting combat. The final fight in this movie had more emotion and thrills than those found in some of the big blockbusters this year.
While all of that works in the movie’s favor, what doesn’t are the antagonists. There are three antagonistic factions in “Last Wish,” including Jack Horner of the nursery rhyme and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as Goldilocks and the three bears. That’s six bad guys in total.
Having the Wolf in the mix is fine, as he was often in the background serving as a personal foe to Puss rather than the big bad of the overarching story. The problem is the spot of the big bad is kind of stretched to include both the Goldilocks gang and Horner, which doesn’t really work. The film should have had the primary antagonist either be Goldilocks and the Bears or Horner.
The villain department does cause the story to become a bit muddled and one wishes it was tighter. However, the new “Puss In Boots” is still a good time. There’s an engaging hero’s journey, having Antonio Banderas and Salma Haeyk back was great, and the new dog character Perrito (Harvey Guillen) was a cute addition. Add in some exciting animation and the film earns a 3.75 out of 5.