This review contains minor spoilers for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
Cats off to you DreamWorks: you’ve done it again. Joel Crawford’s latest addition to the universally-adored Shrek franchise has finally dropped. And, boy, are we in for a treat. The Last Wish is, unexpectedly, set to become one of the greatest animated films of the year. In fact, as a testament to its achievements, critics are even comparing Crawford’s film to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) — and we know how good that was! What can I say? It’s practically purr-fect in every way.
Cat puns aside, Crawford manages to do something that many movies aimed for children struggle to do: appeal to a wider audience. In fact, one could even go so far as to say that this is a movie tailor-made for millennials. With multiple cameos from characters across the franchise (spoiler alert: we won’t mention who), it’s hard for any fan of the original Shrek (2001) not to enjoy this film. And yet, despite the repeated cross-references, The Last Wish has enough fresh material to capture the interest of new fans. Indeed, this is a film for adults and kids alike.
Combining 3D animation with a ‘painting’ aesthetic, from the outset The Last Wish feels like a fairytale. Influenced by the style of films like Into the Spider-Verse, the animation is both beautiful and urgent. But despite the continual wide shots of fairytale landscapes, the film does not stop to reminisce. For all its artistry, then, the pacing remains quick and continually engaging. With fast-paced action sequences coupled with artful shots of the night sky, The Last Wish maintains its action and beauty in equilibrium consistently.
As with many kids films, the comedy has a tendency to be cringe at best — downright dismal at worse. The Last Wish however, maintains its witty edge. Following on in the footsteps of its renowned predecessors — I’m thinking, specifically, Shrek 2 (2004) — Crawford’s humour has just enough silliness to keep the kids amused, whilst maintaining its cheeky glances to adults. As a mature viewer myself, I found myself repeatedly giggling along to Puss’s (Antonio Banderas) various antics. One rarely finds repeated amusement in a movie designed specifically for children; but characteristic of several Shrek films, The Last Wish does this very well indeed.
Joining Puss on his adventure we have Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and Perrito (Harvey Guillen). I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between the three characters, or should I say ‘Team Friendship’ (it’s meant to be cliché, I assure you). From Banderas’ chivalric charisma as Puss, to Haymek’s bitter, cut-throat (literally!) persona as Softpaws, these characters counterbalanced one another perfectly. In the middle of this duo, is Guillen’s endearing Perrito, whose amusing anecdotes and trauma dumps keep viewers uneasily amused. It’s a fantastic trio — with enough character-driven bonding moments and conflicts to carry the action forward throughout.
As the film’s antagonists we have Goldilock’s (otherwise known as Goldi; voiced by Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Coleman, Samson Kayo and Ray Winstone), crime lord Jack Horner (John Mulaney), and Wolf (Magner Moura). Jack Horner is by far the least compelling villain — who is, essentially, a carbon-copy of Kingpin from Into the Spider-verse (2018). It’s as if they cut and pasted Marvel’s infamous crime lord, and put a purple wig on him (think Lord Farquaad’s hair, but worse!). Fortunately, Pugh’s dynamic with the three bears, especially Coleman’s loveable Mama Bear overset this. But the best villain, in my view, is Moura’s Wolf. The sinister animation of his red eyes concealed under a red cape, coupled with Moura’s eerie tones established Wolf as an extremely menacing, but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable antagonist.
It’s paw-some! (last cat pun, I promise). The Last Wish is a tour-de-force in the DreamWorks archives, and is set to become one of the best animations of the year. Bring on the awards, I say! Regardless, The Last Wish is a film that deserves to be seen by many. So get that popcorn out, recline those seats, and immerse yourself in Crawford’s latest addition to the Shrek franchise.
Featured image: Pixabay on Pexels.