The Last Wish: A Beloved Daredevil’s Redemption
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After 11 years away from the big screen, the adventure-loving Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) returns to the Shrek Cinematic Universe in Puss In Boots: The Last Wish. This time, Puss’s reckless thrill-seeking has sent him on a quest for the only thing that can save his life: the magical Wishing Star.
After losing all but one of his nine lives due to his daredevil antics, Puss decides to abandon his life of adventure, escaping to the home of Mama Luna, a crazy cat lady. It is there that he meets a passionate yet naive dog, Perrito (voice by Harvey Guillen), and reunites with a lover from a past life, Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek). After realizing that the Big Bad Wolf (voiced by Wagner Moura) is after him, Puss leads the unlikely team on a journey to seize the magical Wishing Star, battling fairytale villains and undertaking the trials of the deadly Dark Forest on the way.
The cast of The Last Wish is star-studded, featuring actors like John Mulaney and Florence Pugh, who both voice supporting characters. Despite the growing trend of empty celebrity casts used only for name recognition (looking at you, The Super Mario Bros. Movie), The Last Wish perfectly matches each cast member’s voice to their character’s, effectively complementing their on-screen animated counterparts. Take Mulaney, for example, who voices the film’s primary antagonist, the greedy Jack Horner. Using his signature over-dramatic tone, Mulaney imbues Jack with a childlike immaturity consistent with the goofy yet evil man seen on screen. The best example of thoughtful casting in the film is Banderas as Puss. Banderas brings an air of authenticity to Puss, often breaking out into smooth and rapidly spoken Spanish that establishes Puss’s intriguing persona. Additionally, Banderas’s singing should not go unnoticed; the musical aspects of the film truly flourish from the strength of the leading man.
The most striking aspect of the film lies in its visuals and bold design choices. There is a notable difference in art style between The Last Wish and other films under the Shrek banner. The animation places less emphasis on realism, instead opting to embrace a cute and whimsical minimalistic style with bright colors. It can seem a little disjointed at times, but usually serves a purpose. The Big Bad Wolf, for example, has a jagged appearance that gives him a threatening otherworldliness, making him truly stick out from the colorful scenery. This style, along with the fast-paced action, eclectic character lineup, and mystical scenery has led many to compare the movie to the critically acclaimed Into the Spider-Verse (2018). The most successful aspects of that film are channeled in The Last Wish, especially in regards to character backstory. Characters who originate from fairy tales like Jack Horner and Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) incorporate their tales in unique ways, with Jack’s nursery rhyme prompting him to turn to villainy, and Goldilocks and her three bears using extreme, bounty-hunting methods to search for their “just right” ending.
Despite being a children’s movie, The Last Wish manages to appeal to all audiences, not only through its impactful visuals, but also through its easily accessible humor: Romantic scenes between Puss and Kitty are followed by reminders of Perrito’s oblivious nature, violent scenes between The Wolf and Puss have twinges of physical comedy by way of Puss’s clumsiness, and Kitty’s sarcastic remarks are frequent and witty. This comedic appeal, along with the incredible voice acting and colorful world-building, makes the movie a true animated success. Fans of the Shrek Universe, cat lovers, and suckers for a happy ending will definitely enjoy Puss and his gang’s spectacle in The Last Wish.