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Puss in Boots: The Last Wish


Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

review by Jacob James

Cinema started in 2001 when our lord and saviour made his big screen debut: Shrek. Hero worship aside, Shrek really was a milestone for animation. Not only did Dreamworks’ giant green middle finger to the House of Mouse mark the studio’s biggest success yet, but it went on to nab the first ever Oscar for Best Animated Feature (beating both Pixar’s Monster’s Inc and Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron).

The first Shrek still holds up 22 years later, although some of the animation has dated (mostly with the humans) and we’ve grown numb to the generic romance plot. You know – the one where two people fall in love, have a misunderstanding, break up, feel sad, one of them realises their mistake, they make up, and they bang.

So, what does Dreamworks do after making their smash hit? They release two films that are currently listed as their biggest bombs and nearly caused the company to fold in on itself. Not the smartest move. But don’t worry, they came back to life with box office smash Shrek 2. And I say this with no sarcasm or meme perspective: Shrek 2 is one of those sequels where I think it’s not just as good as the first film, it’s better. Seriously, Shrek 2 is a masterpiece with good animation, sharp writing, and one hell of a soundtrack.

Skipping to 2007, we got Shrek the Third and in terms of quality, this film falls face first through the glass coffee table. Following Shrek 2 was always going to be hard. I don’t want to say the film didn’t even try, because there are some decent elements. But everything else is just… I think the best way to put it is that Shrek the Third feels more like a parody of Shrek rather than, you know, actual Shrek.

After the critical and commercial ‘eh’ of third, Dreamworks decided to cancel all of their planned Shrek sequels and release Shrek Forever After in 2010. And it wasn’t that bad honestly (although I don’t know if that’s because Shrek the Third lowered the standards or not). Then Dreamworks decided they hadn’t squeezed all the juice out of the Shrek lemon after all, and made Puss in Boots. A film that feels very disconnected from the Shrek universe – that if someone said this film took place in an alternate universe, I wouldn’t bat an eye.

Ok, after a 396 word introduction, I think I should get to the point – Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish which, for my money, is the best film in the Shrek series since Shrek 2.

The first thing I should probably talk about is the animation. During the film, you might notice that the animation becomes choppy here and there (mostly during the fight scenes). It’s clear Dreamworks has been looking at the success of the Spider-verse and lifting some elements for themselves. Their previous Bad Guys (good film, check it out) played around with the 2D and 3D hybrid style and, once again, played around with frame rates. I love the fact that Dreamworks are doing this because animation (mostly the CGI variety) has sort of been avoiding what animation is. Animation is really the medium that can do whatever you want. You can make anyone do anything, make the world weird and beautiful. But when CGI kicked off, a lot of the studios tried to make the animation smooth and photorealistic. That isn’t bad, per se, and does showcase how far technology has improved. But it does also mean that a lot of animated films’ styles blend into this almost Cronenberg style blob. I will admit that sometimes the frame rate changes do happen a bit too suddenly, but it’s very minor, so whatever.

Anyway, let’s talk about the characters of this film. More specifically, the villains. I’m just going to come out and say it: they’re the best Dreamworks villains since Captain Chantel DuBois from Madagascar 3, which was released in 2012. Not to say the villains between these films were bad but they just lacked staying power. In this case, John Mulaney’s voice really helps make Jack Horner seem self-absorbed and funny. I love the foreboding presence of Death and his little whistle and when it comes to Goldilocks and her bears, I like how they portrayed them. They could’ve made Goldie the straight man while the bears were the dumb henchmen (and to be fair, they are kinda stupid) but, instead, they portrayed them as the nice little family that just happens to do crime.

No film is perfect. But I’ve I got to be honest, I don’t really have much to slate here. All my negatives (ranging from how not all of the jokes land for me or how Jack Horner can occasionally get a bit much here and there) are all very minor and feel a bit nit-picky to discuss. The only real thing I could write about is that I wasn’t really a fan of the first part of the film. Everything up to when Goldilocks and the three bears show up at the cat owner’s house felt a little stale (with the giant fight being the exception).

Overall, The Last Wish proves that when it comes the second instalment in a Dreamworks series (with the exception of Boss Baby, Madagascar, Trolls, and The Croods) is always the best one. Now, please stand up for a holy song. Somebody once told me the world is gonna- {The proceeding song has been deleted to avoid copyright – Wellington Orbit}