Alex Reviews "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"
What happens when a hero who thinks themselves invincible is faced with their own mortality with death all too close on their heels? Will they retreat into cowardice domestication or face the dangers of the world just as fervently? If you think Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a dark, gritty, adult movie about a superhero facing demons, you wouldn’t be far off…and you also skipped the title. In a film that is dark and borders on unsafe for children, it also might be the best animated movie of the year.
Spoiler alert: It is for me.
Antonio Banderas returns as the brave adventurer who realizes he has expired eight of his nine lives and faces his end in the form of the Big Bad Wolf. Puss must outrun his pursuers en route to the mythical fallen star that grants the one who finds it one wish. Unfortunately, he is not the only one hot on its trail with people from his past, his present, and possibly even his future… if he can make one.
While the story IS one that ties to the Shrek universe, it is absolutely the most adult entry as it deals with themes of mortality, anxiety, and outright murder. Given this, I do want to stop short of saying that kids shouldn’t watch it, but I’d urge parents and guardians give it a watch before deciding for themselves to see if the other themes of appreciation, mental health, and family (which add some great heart to the story) would balance things out. Never would I expect a movie like this one to represent PTSD and a panic attack so well, but it does in one of the best examples of “It’s OK to not be OK” that I have seen in just one example of how the writers balanced wildly fantastical elements with real world situations.
Beyond Banderas, this cast is stacked with talent. Christi Soper continues to perfectly fit voice to animated role as they are the common element to both of my top animated films of 2022 (The Bad Guys). Salma Hayek (The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard) returns in a role that continues to show me how she will forever be tied to Banderas as the best on screen counterpart for each. The ensemble is rounded out with names like Florence Pugh, Ray Winstone, Olivia Colman… sorry, Oscar-winner Olivia Colman, and Samson Kayo in roles that I would love you to be surprised by. Outside of this, the real heart of this film rests with Harvey Guillen (What We Do in the Shadows), whose delivery as the lovably naïve dog that adopts Puss in Boots as his new best friend is sure to be a favorite with the kids who do watch it, even if his “family story” is one of the darkest moments. The only voice I struggled with was John Mulaney, who fits his character but uses the same delivery for all of his voice work. Despite how well very member of the cast performed, there was one portrayal that stood above them all in the Big Bad Wolf’s Wagner Moura (Narcos) is the new answer to “I could listen to them read a phone book.” His voice dances through the material with intensity, ferocity, suaveness, and a depth that left me terrified but captivated with every scene in which the Big Bad Wolf appeared.
The artists who brought this story and these characters to life should receive recognition, bonuses, and awards for their work here. Blending the trademark DreamWorks style we love with a visceral pop style during action sequences blend to form a quality worthy of the Louvre in a way that really needs to be appreciated on the biggest screen possible. Give Puss in Boots: The Last Wish your time and money as every single person who worked on it deserves the recognition for the best animated picture of the year.