Everyone’s favorite ginger feline hero returns to thrilling form in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. This sequel to the hit Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots sees Antonio Banderas reprising the titular swashbuckling cat, who learns he only has one life left thanks to his risky, devil-may-care lifestyle. Forced to confront his mortality, Puss goes on an epic journey of redemption and discovery that provides poignant life lessons between exciting adventure set pieces.
We open with Puss living large as usual, though shakes from an illness hint at a ticking clock. After being betrayed trying to capture three legendary wishing beans, Puss must team with former partner Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) against Goldilocks gangsters, his doppelganger Wolf, and the mysterious Sphinx (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) to secure the magic beans and restore his lost eight lives. But Puss will learn sometimes having one life to live can be a gift.
Director Joel Crawford balances rapid-fire animated action with emotional resonance. As Puss wrestles with regret over past mistakes and fear of his dwindling time, Banderas brings sensitivity to the typically arrogant hero. Puss’ personal growth gives the film heart to match the spectacle. And the buddy comedy dynamic between him and Hayek’s Kitty remains charming, especially as their frienship deepens. The stellar voice cast handle comedy and drama with equal aplomb.
Dazzling animation from DreamWorks immerses viewers in vivid storybook worlds across the globe, from the bright Mexican-inspired town of Puss’ youth to dizzying giant’s castle in the clouds. Stylized animation allows physics-defying fight choreography as Puss wields his rapier against colorful foes. And Goldilocks crew’s bears make for humorous yet menacing heavies. The film marries adorable talking animals with real jeopardy and life lessons.
The Last Wish expands Puss’ origins with flashbacks to his kittenhood ambition to become a hero, establishing motivations beyond his surface swagger. We experience Puss’ hubris in youth leading to mistakes haunting him in maturity. His reconciliation with parents and a heroic canine mentor add emotional resonance. While the plotting follows classical structures, the film keeps it fresh with charm and heart.
Unfortunately, The Last Wish does drag slightly in its midsection during Puss’ introspective soul-searching. The paused momentum disrupts the urgent cat-and-mouse hijinks established early on. While Puss grappling with mortality provides poignant themes, the execution slows the film’s energy at times. The final act picks back up with an epic showdown and emotional resolution to satisfy.
In the end, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish delivers on both spectacle and sentiment. Antonio Banderas remains perfectly cast as the scene-stealing feline. And the film expands Puss’ story with heartfelt life lessons on making peace with one’s past and present. Kids will love the adorable animal antics, while parents appreciate the poignant themes. Puss proves there’s plenty left in his boots as his sword-slashing adventures tick down.