It would be fair to say that DreamWorks Animation is not the juggernaut that it used to be. From the early 2000s up until the early 2010s, the animation studio has given audiences true classics in the medium including the first two Shrek films, the Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon trilogies, the Madagascar franchise, and Rise of the Guardians. While at the time it may not have had the same batting average as its main competitor Pixar, they were still a name that families could trust in providing entertainment suited for people of all ages. Unfortunately in recent years, they’ve been slipping. While there are still a few gems in the rough, they also gave us The Boss Baby films. It’s been 11 years since the first Puss in Boots was released in theaters and since then, the Shrek franchise has had a bit of a resurgence to say the least, not through film, but through countless internet memes, to the point where it’s puzzling that DreamWorks has yet to revisit the fairy tale land of Far, Far, Away. That is until now, with the long-awaited sequel Puss in Boots: The Last Wish featuring the return of the sword-wielding Spanish cat voiced by Antonio Banderas.


The film starts off several years after the events of the previous film, where we find Puss in Boots in the middle of an existential crisis upon learning that he’s down to the last of his nine lives. Stalked by the seemingly supernatural Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura), for the first time in his life, Puss in Boots isn’t the one who is feared but now is in fear of death itself. Defeated, Puss moves in with Mama Luna (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), an old woman who houses dozens of stray cats. Forced to live like an actual cat, Puss meets Perro (Harvey Guillén), a scrappy little dog clad in a sock sweater who has been living unwanted with the rats underneath Mama Luna’s home. When a bounty is placed on Puss, several sinister forces chase after him, including Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, and Samson Kayo), and “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney). To make matters even more complicated, Puss reunites with his former flame Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek Pinault), whom he’s become estranged since the events of the last film. After learning of a shooting star that has the ability to grant him additional lives, Puss, Kitty, and Perro embark on a wild adventure to get to the star before their adversaries get to it first.

For a sequel that’s taken over a decade to finally hit the screen, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish may have been the hero that DreamWorks Animation has needed all along. Much like the studio’s previous film The Bad Guys, the animation style has its own unique style and a personality of its own. Much like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Last Wish combines 2D hand-drawn stylings with CG animation to great success. The action is exciting and allows filmmakers Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado as well as the animation team to get creative; at times it plays out like a comic book, there’s a scene that feels like a rainbow-coated homage to Mad Max, and plenty of visual gags that’ll have the older audiences cracking up right alongside the younger viewers. The landscapes are gorgeous and there’s never a dull frame in the film’s 100-minute runtime.

Image via DreamWorks Animation


RELATED: Why ‘Puss in Boots’ Is an Animated Spinoff That Worked

Banderas is better than ever voicing Puss, as he brings new layers to the character as he faces a more existentialist dilemma than he has before. The new additions, including Goldilocks, Jack Horner, and the Big Bad Wolf, are all wonderful as well, with Pugh, Mulaney, and Moura bringing their own signature personalities to the roles. It’s Guillén’s voice work as Perro that is the real stand-out of the cast, a character that gives the film an extra spoonful of heart and is destined to become you and your kids’ new favorite character. Perro fits right in with the rest of the characters and Guillén’s voice work is responsible for some of the film’s funniest moments. He’s one of the best sidekicks DreamWorks has given us who fits right alongside Donkey and the Madagascar penguins.

The film is surprisingly much more ambitious and mature than one might expect, it goes beyond the messages you might expect from your average family movie and decides to dig deep into themes of mortality and confronting death. The stakes are actually felt and there are moments in the film’s climax that are effectively tense, while the general story may be a predictable one, the places it goes to while telling it almost seem like its targeting the adults or those who grew up with the Shrek films rather than the younger fans who weren’t even born when the previous film hit the big screen. The jokes are plentiful, and it’s one of the funniest movies of the year, but it is the strong emotional core that holds the movie together. In a time when many sequels fail to live up to their potential by just attempting to recreate what their predecessors did so well, The Last Wish aims to do something different and one that shows a hopeful future for DreamWorks. There’s even more than meets the eye with several of the film’s antagonists, including Goldilocks’ relationship with her makeshift family and the Big Bad Wolf’s connection to Puss. While Jack Horner may be the more conventional villain, the others aren’t necessarily portrayed as truly “bad” people, but the film portrays them in a way where we understand their motivations and even, in some cases, care for them just as much as we do for the central trio.

puss in boots the last wish (1)
Image via Universal


There are times when The Last Wish may feel a little bit too crowded, the cast of characters is as impressive as it is vast, but Paul Fisher‘s script does an effective job of preventing the movie from ever feeling too overwhelming or convoluted.

Nothing in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish feels lazy, it more than justifies the long wait. It is not only one of the best animated films of the year, but it’s one of DreamWorks’ best, and one that will strike a chord with moviegoers of all ages. It’s equal parts exciting and hilarious as well as earnest, it never feels like it is talking down to anyone. With The Bad Guys and now Puss in Boots: The Last Wish it is more than safe to say that DreamWorks is back and (maybe) better than ever.

Rating: A-

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish comes to theaters on December 21.

Leave a Reply