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Review: “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” presents deep themes under excellent animation [MUSE]

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As someone who has loved animation as a medium for storytelling all my life, I have found numerous animated films over the years that resonate with me. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen countless pieces of art and other media based on one recent release: “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.”

The “Shrek” franchise is one of the most universally popular animated film franchises in existence. From memes on social media to references in popular culture to its iconic soundtracks to its recognition as one of Dreamworks’ best, “Shrek” and its characters have been immortalized in the public consciousness. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is the latest installment in the franchise, centered around the character Puss in Boots, who makes his first appearance in “Shrek 2.” This film is about Puss’s journey to find the Wishing Star using a map through the Dark Forest after Puss loses his eighth life and is now on his final one. Joining him are Kitty Softpaws, his ex-fiancée who has her own wish to make, and Perrito, a friendly dog that Puss meets at the residence of Mama Luna, a cat lady. 

The animation of the film is stunning. The color palettes, lighting and the incorporation of 2D style elements into the 3D-animated film captivated me as I watched the film. The action sequences drew my attention easily; they are full of vivid motion and really drew me into the storyline. Additionally, the character designs are reflective of each character’s personality. From the onset, their appearances give clear impressions of what kind of role they will play in the story: for example, Death—an antagonist—appears as a menacing wolf with an imposing figure and unsettling eyes, clear indicators of how terrifying of a character he is. 

I particularly enjoyed the film’s interpretation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, iconic fairy tale figures who “The Last Wish” reimagines as a crime family (with British accents) intent on also obtaining the last wish from the forest. Furthermore, the landscapes are gorgeous. Each environment is fresh and new, with unique lighting and riveting concepts. When the characters are in the Dark Forest, the constantly-shifting landscapes immersed me.

There are lots of clever jokes interlaced throughout the movie. Ones I particularly enjoyed were the Goldilocks jokes, which are plays on the “too hot,” “too cold” and “just right” phrases from the original fairy tale. The movie is full of references to the nursery rhyme about Jack Horner as well, which are incorporated in a humorous way I enjoyed. 

Speaking of Jack Horner: it was refreshing to see the different types of antagonists that are all present in “The Last Wish.” Jack Horner is an irredeemable, unquestionably evil character who disregards the lives of his subordinates but he is undoubtedly delightful to watch; Goldilocks and the Three Bears are a family that, despite their conflicts with each other and their role as antagonists opposing Puss, still care for each other; and Death, despite his less frequent appearances, is key to the main themes and sets a frightening atmosphere whenever he shows up. 

Most of all, I loved the main characters. Puss in Boots is an entertaining protagonist, and his interactions with Kitty Softpaws and Perrito made me laugh and “aww” several times throughout the course of the movie. I love the banter and teasing between Puss and Kitty especially; their relationship is full of scenes I’ve rewatched over and over again. The scene where they dance together while fighting Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the scene where Kitty and Puss fight for the map to the Wishing Star near the beginning of the movie and of course all the shenanigans that “Team Friendship”—as Perrito calls them—get up to throughout the movie are memorable sequences. 

Puss’s growth from the beginning of the movie to the end of the movie is well-written development and full of parallels (most notably during his fights with Death at the beginning and during the finale). At the beginning, Puss is a legendary hero who believes he’s immortal and is self-centered and arrogant—shown by the songs he sings about himself along with how his past lives are presented in the Cave of Lost Souls. But at the end of the movie, rather than regaining all nine of his lives, Puss learns to cherish his last remaining one with Kitty and Perrito instead. 

All in all, I enjoyed every aspect of this movie. It is a fun, emotional experience the whole way through, and I think everyone—regardless of age or preferred genres—can find something they like about it. The depth of the themes and the compelling characters make for a cohesive, engaging experience that I highly recommend.

On this blog, members of the Carmel High School chapter of the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists (and the occasional guest writer) produce curations of all facets of popular culture, from TV shows to music to novels to technology. We hope our readers always leave with something new to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.  

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