Puss in Boots: The Last Wish? More Like I Wish I'd Watched A Better Film (SPOILERS)
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation
Streaming Service: ROW8, Vudu, Prime Video, Redbox, Apple TV on your Roku device
Release Date: 21 December 2022
Copyright Disclaimer: I do not own anything DreamWorks related, only my opinions.
Description (Hot Take Warning):
Okay, hear me out—Puss in Boots: The Last Wish isn’t a great movie.
Before you get out your torches and pitchforks, let me clarify; I do not think that it is the worst movie ever. On the contrary, I’ve seen much worse. I just do not see Puss in Boots: The Last Wish as fantastic, phenomenal, or that outstanding where it absolutely outshines every other animation film I have ever witnessed in my life to date.
To begin, I’d like to mention a couple of things I did mildly enjoy about this film before promptly ripping it apart...I mean giving it a firm in-depth analysis.
*SPOILERS AHEAD* So if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to be spoiled, then I’d suggest you don’t read this article. Or do. It’s a free country—you do you. Also, this is all my personal opinion—not fact.
The Pros of this Film
1.) Freaking Death
I’ve always held the belief that DreamWorks makes some of the best villains in the animation industry, and the villain from Puss in Boots: The Last Wish passes the vibe check. If you look can look past the cliché DOG vs CAT design and character plot that has been used pretty much ever since man could write, DreamWork’s “fairytale” version of Death goes pretty hard.
He’s a wolf manifested in a mostly(?) physical form who’s coming for Puss’s last life and wants to best Puss in a fight before taking him to…the afterlife? Heaven? Hell??? (The movie is not that clear about where, but short version is Puss would be dead as a doornail.) Death is also a seemingly unbeatable force of nature—literally—and continuously hunts Puss during his journey to find the wishing star and attempt to get more lives. Very much like the interpretation of real life death, which we all—minus the rising AI and maybe that one cloned sheep—are all familiar with since we all share a common mortality. Death even draws blood, which was apparently super graphic to some parents even though it was like, one drop? (I don’t know, maybe I’m desensitized from that kind of “graphicness” since I used to watch films like War of the Worlds (2005) when I was three years old. My dad clearly did not care about the official ratings.) I digress.
Like many “villains” are coming to be nowadays, Death has some dimensionally and grayness to his character as well. He isn’t just an “evil bad guy.” In his own way, he is serving justice. At the beginning of the movie, Puss lives each life carelessly instead of treasuring each, and understandably as someone who probably must deal with the paperwork (I’d imagine) every. single. time. that a cheeky cat would die recklessly, I’d likely take some pleasure in personally escorting that same cat down to whatever domain I’d be in charge of. Hell, I’d probably bring some flowers and fireworks to celebrate.
Puss attempts to run from Death, but like the real thing, Death follows behind closely and can’t be driven off. Yet, at the end when Puss finally realizes the worth of his one remaining life with his family, Death doesn’t needlessly take Puss’s life. Instead, while slightly frustrated that he can’t have the battle he’s been hoping for, Death does recognize that Puss has been through some mental growth and lets him live. In the end, Death comes for us all, and for Puss, it seems like it will be at least one movie longer before Death comes to collect.
2.) The CGI Art (Pro/Con)
This is a love and hate thing for me. On one hand, as a film major, I love the fact that DreamWorks is branching out on their animation art styles (unlike other animation companies that will remain unnamed). It has a uniquely distinct look to its style, and it does vaguely remind me of the groundbreaking animation style that was used in Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, which is a beautiful film that is very refreshing.
At the same time, using this new style of animation loses the iconic semi-chunky, exaggerated animation style that the Shrek franchise is known for. Instead, the world feels a bit more 2D compared to the previous DreamWorks films from the same franchise, and it thus loses that connection for me. When I saw Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the change in animation style was so jarring from the other Shrek franchise films that it knocked me right out of the film because all I could focus on what that it wasn’t the same or remotely similar art style. It almost felt like this film was an entirely separate entity from even the first Puss in Boots film—essentially a remake. The only things that saved it from being considered that were the references made by Puss about the Shrek world and the inclusion of Kitty Softpaws from the first film.
I mean, look at this!
What in the multiverse....Yes, it’s the same cat variation, but you can’t tell me that THAT is the same exact cat. The original was more sharp and “realistic” with its dimensionality. Versus when you look at one on the right, that cat is using a snapchat filter that would have the Kardashians jealous. Everything is softened, rounded, and blended to an almost unrecognizable level. One could even argue it’s more “child-like” in style.
Then take a look at how they are changing people to market to their own version of a Disney princess. We went from iconic queen animation style of human and ogre Fiona that was different from any other major franchise at the time to…feral Elsa if she were raised by bears in Australia and had no ice powers. You can’t convince me that either of those characters come from the same world based on their animation styles. Just look at their eyes alone!
What I’m trying to say is that while I appreciate DreamWorks trying new animation techniques, I don’t really like it when it’s haphazardly applied in a well-known and established franchise with its own iconic animation style, especially when it is still relevant. Instead, I would hold back on using it on a pre-existing franchise and use it in a whole brand new one that can be marketed exclusively based on that new animation art style. Don’t be tacky and try to “out-do” the competition by applying it to film franchises that don’t need it to be applied to.
Things I didn’t like about Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
1.) This M*F* Character
Perrito is so annoying to me, and I think it’s only for the fact that this is DreamWork’s attempt to get Gen Z/Generation Alpha into their film franchise—and they try SO HARD. It’s too much. It comes across as too much for me.
I mean, we get it. He’s a super optimistic homeless dog with no official name that wants to be a therapy dog and have a family. Understandable. But even he as a character tries too hard to the point where he comes off as both clingy and annoying. Everything comes almost…easy yet hard for him because of his overly over-the-top optimistic viewpoint of life. A total damsel-in-distress most of the time, he sticks like a thorn in the side to Puss.
On top of this, his humor just seems to try too hard too. The bleeping out swears and overly peppy roasts just don’t do it for me.
He does help Puss and Kitty realize the importance of each other, their limited mortality, and for Puss specifically, how to deal with trauma and anxiety, but that’s where the character’s positives end for me. Clearly, DreamWorks wanted this film to have a trio so that the fresh young character can continue the franchise for when they retire the old favorites. However, if Perrito is the one they are banking on, count me out.
2.) Deteriorating Humor
This may be just a me thing, but I felt like there wasn’t much for humor in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Perrito, for all his flaws, was one of the few “comedic” parts of the film, as much as I hate to admit it. Was it cheap comedy? Considering it was mainly “dark humor” mixed with bleeped out swear words, I’d say yes. In that department, please try harder. Otherwise, we had John Mulaney and his character, but I think that was about it, honestly—and even that wasn’t very funny for me.
What I miss about early 2000s animation is that we used to have more of an intermixing of child and adult humor in films so that all parties could enjoy some comedic value. Nowadays, animated films like this one seem to be pandered more solely towards children in regards to humor and content. The jokes were dumbed down to the point where I didn’t even feel like they were jokes anymore. They were just stupid lines. I think I *lightly* chuckled once during the entirety of the film, and that was it.
Side note: Ratings from the 2000s are so wild. Obviously, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is PG. If it was anything stronger, I’d be shocked. But somehow the original Shrek was also PG??? I would have figured that with both of them being so different in content, style, and humor, that Shrek would have been at least PG-13. Shrek calls Donkey an A$$, for Pete’s sake!
3.) John Mulaney
No, I will not elaborate.
4.) Also, this M*F* Character
Jack Horner is a mid-villain with low-tier comedy lines and not very memorable. Convince me otherwise.
5.) H*rny Cats Romance between Puss and Kitty
Honestly, I kind of digged the two as a couple in the first Puss in Boots film. They had chemistry but it wasn’t overdoing itself because there was that friendly rivalry between them. However, this film…well, it either wasn’t there at all, or it was THERE, and you couldn’t escape it. That shaving scene, for instance. Why is it a semi-parallel to any spy film between a spy and love interest before they fall into temptation/do the deed?
No. Just no.
Also, the fact that Kitty just stops having trust issues with Puss by the end of the film? Super unrealistic (or just stupid). I mean, have you met Puss? Seen him in any of the previous films? I do not care if “he’s changed.” That just does not happen. He’s a womanizer (cat-anizer?) and always very “let’s PARTY!” Eight lives living like that and you’re telling me he changes in less than one and won’t fall back into his familiar pattern? Riiiiiight.
ALSO also, she’s just as untrustworthy (if she’s telling the truth—isn’t that a conundrum?). These two are very toxic as a couple. Always have been, likely always will be.
6.) Simple Plot?
I may be a film major, but I felt I could tell how the film was going to unravel within the first five minutes. I could almost see the film before actually seeing it.
It was an experience. Also, I was bored.
My Final Thoughts
Like I said, I may criticize the heck out of this film, but I actually do not not like it. I thought it was enjoyable enough, and it entertained me for an adequate amount of time. Will I watch Puss in Boots: The Last Wish again? I will if a friend wants to see it, or if it’s for free and I have nothing else to watch maybe. Otherwise, probably not. I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to view it.
I’m one of those people who really dislike how film companies are making endless remakes of old classics or milking the cow until the cow’s utters are literally shriveled up inside the cow’s body and so dry that nothing comes out of it. With this in mind, I hope that the next Shrek film doesn’t pursue this same path, or else I think DreamWorks will effectively kill off one of their greatest franchises.
Reviewer Name: Kaitlyn Liddicoat
Date of Review: 17 February 2023