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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

Take Your Kids To See Puss In Boots 2, But Teach Them About Death First.

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

"Puss in Boots?? Really??"

Yes, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, is a sequel to the 2011 Spinoff movie of 2004’s Shrek. You’d think by this point it would be bad, just a money grab, or a last-ditch effort to make Shrek a meme, or relevant to the zeitgeist in some way.

But no! Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, is amazing. It’s heart-warming and charming, but equally harrowing and disturbing. It follows the trend of including lots of fairy-tale magic, with the inclusions of the titular Puss, his female friend Kitty Softpaws, a talking dog, Goldilocks and the three bears, and little Jack Horner.

But it also has a darker side, as it explores mature themes of mortality. Death is a character, for instance. And he is SCARY. I’ve heard tell that the villain is so scary that it made children cry in theatres, which, look I don’t blame them—immortalised as a big, grey wolf with glowing red eyes, and twin blades.

This wolf, named Lobo, follows, no, HAUNTS Puss throughout the movie, taunting him, as Puss in Boots has lost 8 of his 9 lives, so true death is a-knockin’. Now that I’m writing this, I’m not sure you should bring YOUNG children. Maybe 9+? Anyway, so Lobo follows Puss as he searches for the one true star that you can wish upon, to get his 9 lives back.

There are some really cool techniques to indicate the coming of Lobo, for instance, he has a haunting whistle, and then suddenly he’s there. And there are other great cues within Puss, his heartbeat becomes loud, his fur stands on end, and his eyes go wide. He has panic attacks about his own mortality…

But there’s also a cute doggy!! Named Perrito, and Kitty, who help calm him down, and help him on his journey. There’s a lot of heart here like Perrito is training to be a therapy dog. You see Puss be a cat a lot more, especially in some scenes where he plays a house cat. The relationship with the main three characters is touching and only blossoms as the movie goes on, and they help Puss accept his own limitations, letting him know it's not how many lives you have, it’s how you use them.

Then there are the secondary antagonists, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, who are both a family of bears with an adopted daughter, and a kind of cockney thievery crew. Goldi is played so well by the fantastic Florence Pugh, and her character isn’t even particularly villainous; she and her family are just on a parallel journey to Puss. Then there’s little Jack Horner, the boy who sat in the corner eating pies, but he is huge now and played by John Mullaney who also does a great job. Jack wants the wish to covet magic. He’s very comical and unserious, but a good counterpoint to the much scarier Lobo.

By the end, there’s a very cool, Western-style faceoff with all the groups which is very satisfying.

The major thing you’ll notice in the movie more immediately is the animation style is different to anything Shrek has ever done before. Shrek, for whatever time it and it’s sequels came out, and the first Puss in Boots went for realism. Skin tones were smooth, you could see hairs and the details on clothing etc. HOWEVER. Puss in Boots 2 has decided to follow a recent trend of trying out 2.5D animation. That is an animation that is some detail but far more stylised. The framerate (how many shots you see per second,) is dropped, bringing a more blurred, storyboard-type animation, saturated with bright jewel-tone colours.

This really rejuvenates the franchise, I personally think, even more. The old style of animation has sort of gone out the window, that sort of old DreamWorks/Disney style has changed. Some credit this change to the introduction of Into the Spiderverse, which utilises all these things and is even more visually challenging and stunning. If you haven’t seen that movie what’s wrong with you?? Anyway, that movie's legacy is felt here in The Last Wish.

It makes it feel like you are watching a child’s storybook come to life, that’s the effect. Which is something Shrek has been striving to do for years, capture that real fairy-tale spirit. Puss in Boots does that. Puss has been given a facelift and is even cuter, his fur less detailed but just as poofy, the combination of visual effects creates just a stunning movie. The final battle happens on the surface of a star and is dazzling.

The most exciting parts of the movie are the battles, the opening battle against the giant, or any of the fights against Lobo, which are so special. The camera whisks around the characters as they fight, flashes, graphics, and sheer speed of the fights combined with the new animation style just WORK.

So, yes Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has some dark and adult themes, however, it's still a beautiful vibrant piece of art. I would say it has earned it’s Oscar nod. And may there be a Shrek 5??

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