by John Larkin
PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH might be the finest film to come out of the SHREK-O-Verse. I was never crazy about the SHREK films and I remember enjoying the first PUSS IN BOOTS spinoff film back in 2011 but it didn't leave an indelible mark on my memory. THE LAST WISH was a pure delight from start to finish and is by far the most charming and interesting film to come from Dreamworks Animation maybe ever.
Like all the best animated films it straddles it's subject matter in a place that's satisfying for both children and adults, exploring themes of mortality and appreciation for life while still delivering plenty of cute sad "cat eye" stare offs. The voice cast are firing on all cylinders with Banderas in particular delivering a deeper and gravely voice performance of Puss from previous appearances that matches well with his new beard.
There's a vast array of villains on display based off of other fairy tale characters, including a kind of bounty hunter "Big Bad Wolf" and "Little Jack Horner", who is the subject of an old nursery rhyme. Horner is anything but little and suffers from an inferiority complex as a neglected fairy tale character. There's also a dark cockney interpretation of the famed fairy tale quartet, GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS that I found particularly twisted.
The animation is superb with colors and textures that feels eons more immersive than anything in the SHREK films. There's a jagged handmade texture to some of the backgrounds that I found striking. The aspect that blew me away the most were some of Puss's facial expressions which almost felt more like motion capture from a facial contortionist than something created by an animator. The Blu-Ray transfer is noting short of resplendent. The earth tones, greens, fur colors and textures are perfectly rendered. Although I would have preferred a 4K version of the film the 1080p Blu-Ray is plenty to satisfy the film's visual demands.
The disc features a fun short film called THE TRIDENT about one of Puss's deaths, some unfinished deleted scenes and a behind the scenes featurette on the voice actors work on the film.
I'm not sure why it took Dreamworks ten years to put out this sequel, but whatever the delay, in the end it all payed off. PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH is a must see and my vote for Best Animated Feature at this years Oscars.