REVIEW: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

This review is spoiler-free.

Despite having a cinephile as a close friend, I don’t see a lot of movies in an actual theater. Even discounting the last few years of shutdown, going to a theater was still fairly rare. It only happened when there was a film interesting enough to get one person riling everyone else up (like myself, when Dune [2021] came out).

So when my friend shared that the new Puss in Boots film was allegedly fantastic, I was a bit surprised.

I was also surprised to discover that, yes, this film is fantastic. I do not remember the last time I had this much fun watching a movie.

Many films have exciting action, or funny dialogue, or charming acting (or in this case, voice acting), or clear cinematography. Many films even have a combination of some or all of those elements. What, then, does The Last Wish get right?

The Last Wish combines myriad elements of a good movie together with a diversity of styles in their presentation to tell a strong story in a remarkable fashion. Truly, it’s the film’s style, synthesized from various sources—perhaps best exemplified by the blistering choreography of the film’s opening—which won me over. Drawn from sources (as best I can tell) as varied as Quentin Tarantino’s films, to traditional oil paintings and stop motion, to Into the Spiderverse, and probably some Japanese animation as well, the visual medley kept my eyes glued to the screen for the whole film.

And then there’s the villain. The bounty hunter chasing Puss—modeled on the Big Bad Wolf—has an absolutely fantastic entrance, and every time he shows up on-screen lives up to that first impression. This film’s gonna scare your kids, and they’re gonna love it.

Yet spectacle is available in abundance on the modern screen. The Last Wish also has substance. Its plot and theme are not, perhaps, revolutionary. In general, The Last Wish wisely chooses to focus on telling a simple story well. There is a little bit of subversion at play. The film’s portrayal of anxiety, trauma, and emotional support to foster character growth during the events of the story is well done. This helps it stand out a bit compared to similar films focused upon the classic “hero’s journey” (for example, Luke’s journey during Star Wars). Because of [redacted for SPOILER STUFF] I did have some pleasant uncertainty and curiosity about the ending. I wasn’t able to predict it, despite a pretty straightforward plot, and I enjoyed that. It wasn’t an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist—the film’s ending felt natural—but it also wasn’t one of my guesses about how the plot would resolve.

The one aspect in which the film didn’t “Wow!” me was music. The score is fairly good, it just isn’t as superlative as basically everything else in the film. There’s one marquee song presented in the opening scene, and the Big Bad Wolf has his own melody (not a full musical number). Speaking broadly, though, the music didn’t jostle for attention with the visuals, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The score certainly wasn’t negative; it was “merely” good.

Overall, this is really a film I think everyone could enjoy. Even if you don’t usually like kids films. Even if you don’t usually like animated stuff. The one exception I’d make is if you get motion sick easily. I love the action and choreography, but I can see this being a bit tough for some people in theaters.

I would compare The Last Wish favorably to long-time, all-audiences favorites like The Mask of Zorro or The Princess Bride.

Don’t believe me? Go watch it yourself.


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