Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 42 minutes, Directors – Joel Crawford, Juanel Mercado
Down to his last life Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) retreats to a quiet life of being a regular cat, unless he can be the first to reach the mythical wishing star to wish for more.
There was something of a worry that the main trailer for Puss In Boots: The Last Wish had shown the majority of content, luckily my mind was very wrong in thinking this as most of what’s shown comes from the opening stages. It might be the fact that I’d seen so much from this that the prologue and build-up for the film felt somewhat drawn out, but luckily it’s not a lasting tone. We see a fearless (and reckless) Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) taken down to his last life. He’s told by the doctor (Anthony Mendez) that he should consider taking things easy, and therefore finds himself taking to the downbeat life of a regular cat (now named Pickles) in the quiet, cramped home of Mama Luna (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
However, on learning of the mythical wishing star Puss jumps back into his life of fights and adventure as he becomes set on wishing for more lives. Yet, as he enters the path that will lead him to the star he discovers that he’s not the only one on the track. He teams up with self-training therapy dog Perrito (Harvey Guillén) and old face Kitty Softpaws (a returning Salma Hayek) to outrun criminal family Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the three bears (Ray Winstone, Olivia Colman, Samson Kayo), alongside power-craving Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney) alongside his Bakers Dozen and plethora of magical items. However, perhaps the biggest threat faced by Puss in the constantly changing magical landscape – according to whoever is holding the map to the star – is Death himself (Wagner Moura). Chasing him with an eerie whistle there’s a truly sinister nature to the darkness and threat posed by the character as he stalks the protagonist.
The visual style of the film truly comes to life when he appears, alongside the various fights that take place. Many have cited the potential anime inspirations, which are notable, within the explosions of rushing colour and the ways in which the battles are depicted. They bring an engaging energy to certain sequences and allow them to burst through the screen, further catching your attention. As do the ways in which the landscapes, and the elements within them, we see throughout the predominant chase/ race element of the film – which once started is where things truly start to move – capture your interest through their general design and style. The ways in which they change and create obstacles for the characters whilst never feeling like they just happen for the sake of narrative convenience or to add to the run-time
In relation to this, the fairy tale and nursey rhyme elements and references feel much more lived in this time around than in the previous Puss In Boots film (released 12 years ago now). They’re played around with more and allowed to feel more a part of the world, even if just for a point of effective humour. Including an occasional patch of successful self-awareness; Jack Horner’s backstory relates to the fact that his nursey rhyme was never as successful as other attractions – such as Pinocchio – and in general was quite naff and not as memorable. It’s a potentially small detail within the rest of the film but works rather well and simply adds more to keep you amused as things pan out. It’s the detail within the world/s which keeps you engaged and entertained, in this case it’s a rather good thing as these are such big parts of the film and the narrative which takes place an unfolds in a truly entertaining fashion – also managing to not jump back and forth too much between different characters in different locations.
As a whole there’s plenty of visual creativity on display to help liven up the film with its already successful humour and narrative. There’s an energy to it that helps to lift the fantastical elements in both light and dark realms. Allowing them to work together and all feel a part of the same piece. All held in through the pacing and the ways in which the narrative is kept moving along largely thanks to just how much detail there is in the various areas of the film.
Once past the prologue and build-up there’s a fine pacing to Puss In Boots: The Last Wish as its world truly feels lived in to allow for the visual energy to match that of the narrative and the well-used, amusing fairy tale elements which crop up throughout.