Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: Swashbuckling Adventure Has a Magic All its Own

4 out of 5 stars (one of the best of its year)

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish is a breath of fresh air.  A belated standalone sequel to 2011’s enjoyable Puss In Boots, this new film comes with vibrant animation style, plenty of clever gags, and energetic action all buoyed by a good story.  Puss in Boots: The Last Wish provides family fun for everyone and shows that sometimes, old franchises still have a little magic left in reserve.

`The fearless feline Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) has faced adventure, danger, and romance throughout his nine lives, throwing his mortality to the wind.  However, upon his most recent death, Puss discovers he is on his last life and is told to take it easy at a retirement home.  After meeting the perky puppy Perro there (voiced by Harvey Guilen), Puss learns of a magic wishing star that could reinstate his nine lives.  Begrudgingly assisted by Perro and old flame Kitty Softpaws (Voiced by Salma Hayek Pinault), Puss sets out to literally reclaim his lives with star-seekers Goldilocks (Voiced by Florence Pugh), Big Jack Horner (Voiced by John Mulaney) and Death Himself (voiced by Wagner Moura) in tow.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a refreshing entry in the Shrek franchise.  The animation style (the same used for Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse) is eye-catching and full of energy in the action scenes, but never goes too far as to induce visual overload.  The cast is excellent across the board, most of the jokes land, and the film has oodles of fun playing with its fairy tale characters.  Hayek Pinault and Banderas bounce off each other well and the film takes Puss’s fear of Death itself seriously without becoming overly downtrodden.  Death (here humanized as the big bad wolf, cloaked and carrying a scythe) will likely creep out young kids (some 6 year-olds left my screening), but 10 and ups should be able to handle him.  While it doesn’t reach the comedic or emotional highs of Shrek 2 (the best entry for my money), this is still a heartfelt, funny, and thoroughly creative fantasy adventure for families to enjoy together.  See Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Rated PG for Action/Violence, Rude Humor/Language (Perro gets bleeped out a couple times), and Some Scary Moments (the tone darkens when Death appears, complete with creepy music)

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